Are pesticides safe for my family?

How many people use bleach in their household? I could not find any statistics on this but I would be willing to bet it is at least 50% of households. Do you realize that the signal word on the label of bleach is “Danger”.  A signal word is used in the chemical industry to make people instantly aware of the toxicity of a product. They rank, from least to most toxic, caution, warning and danger. In contrast to bleach, which is used every day by adults and children, the majority of pesticides labeled for household use have the “caution” signal word.

Since the environmental movement started in the late 60’s pesticides have gotten a bad rap. They are a necessary part of our life. For instance, DDT all but eliminated the mosquito population and Typhus in Africa during the 50’s and 60’s. It also kept our troops healthy throughout WWII. Then the EPA banned its use in 1972 and since then deaths from Malaria and typhus have quadrupled! This knee jerk reaction to misinformed public outrage has cost countless millions their lives throughout the world.

Even now the EPA continues its assault on pesticides and our industry. Recently they imposed restrictions on Pyrethroids (synthetic pyrethrines) complaining of elevated levels in our water supply. First, when they are talking about parts per billion, the levels they quote are not harmful to humans. Keep in mind that pesticides are specifically engineered to affect an insect nervous system by blocking their sodium channels effectively shutting down electrical impulses. Second, study any water report in California and the levels of pharmaceuticals are through the roof! But this is ok because their lobbyist have a lot more money to throw around.

The PCOC (Pest Control Operators of California) may not have as much money to lobby but what they do is regulate training. There is extensive continuing education for a license to apply pesticides. All the technicians treating your homes are highly trained on the proper ways to apply pesticides. We as an industry cannot say that pesticides are safe but I would rather have my kids around a bottle of Phantom then a bottle of bleach!

Download What are Signal Words? from the National Pesticide Information Center.

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