Want to take out bed bugs without harming your family? You’re not alone. Moms all over the country are fighting bed bugs with one hand while minding the kids and home with the other. Fortunately, there are tons of bed bug products that are safe for use around kids and pets, and a few easy ways to check that they are safe for your home:
A common misconception is that pesticides are toxic to humans, and everyone who comes in contact with the chemicals will get sick. However, this simply isn’t true. Pesticide development is a very detailed and precise scientific field, with a lot of time and money invested into creating the right formula for the job. Chemical manufacturers are constantly producing new compounds that are lethal to invertebrates (like bed bugs) and relatively harmless for mammals (like your family).
There are a couple of reasons why these insecticides can be so effective against insects without harming humans. First, the sheer difference in size and weight between a human and a bed bug drastically affects the toxic effect of the chemical. Humans are tens of thousands of times heavier than bed bugs, and have a lot more blood and water in their body. That means that you would need a lot more of a poison to affect a human like it affects a bed bug, since toxicity depends on how much poison is in a certain amount of blood.
Even if you did somehow get exposed to a highly concentrated version of an insecticide, it simply wouldn’t work the same way on you as it does on a bed bug. This is because the insecticide specifically targets the bug’s unique anatomy. Most modern bed bug sprays act similarly to pyrethrins; they affect the flow of sodium transported through the nerve cells in insects, causing those nerves to fire off rapidly and repeatedly until the insect dies. Since mammals have more complex nervous and immune systems than insects, the insecticide is broken down before this effect can occur.
So what does all of this mean? Generally speaking, any insecticide that you find that is registered for indoor use against bed bugs will be safe, as long as you use it correctly. The only real threat to anyone’s health in a bed bug treatment (besides the bed bugs, obviously) is misuse of insecticide products. It’s vitally important that you read and follow the product label and MSDS for safe and effective usage. These documents come with every registered insecticide product, and explain everything you need to know about safe handling of the product. Here are a few key things to look for in these labels:
- The most important part of the product label is where and how to apply the product. The vast majority of pesticide-related poisonings are caused by over-applying a chemical or applying it where it’s not meant to be used. That’s why it is against federal law to use an insecticide in any way that it is not specifically labelled for.
- Most insecticides will advise that you remove children and pets from the room that you’re treating before you begin the treatment. This is due to varied immune system effectiveness among infants and different types of pets (i.e. cats may have more difficulty breaking down a certain insecticide than dogs).
- The MSDS will outline what protective safety gear is required. This could range from long sleeves and gloves to a dust mask and a specific type of gloves. It’s very important that you follow the safety guidelines to prevent any unsafe contact with the chemicals.
- Most product labels will advise that you not allow anyone to come in contact with a treated surface until that surface is fully dry. This is usually to eliminate any chance of excessive air or skin exposure to the product’s active ingredients.
If you or anyone in your home have underlying health conditions, it would be wise to consult with your doctor before beginning any insecticide treatments. Your doctor may advise for or against certain chemical ingredients, or may suggest additional precautions that are specific to the medical condition in question.
Don’t be fooled by advertisements claiming that their pest control solution is non-toxic and safe for the family. There are several products that claim to be natural, chemical-free, and non-toxic, but are still able to kill bed bugs. They often use one or more essential oils, which are believed by some to be effective against bed bugs. However, these products are simply not capable of eliminating your bed bug infestation. By using the right products, and following their instructions carefully, you can kill bed bugs while still keeping your family safe and healthy.