- While safer, heat treatment has no residual effect and reaches sublethal temperatures under conditions such as leather (Gondhalekar, 2019).
- Unfortunately, pesticide studies on chemicals such as DDT and RoundUp often have a “lag effect,” as their effects are not known until years after their usage. Thus, pesticides in use now may prove to be hazardous years later.
- Most pesticide poisoning occurs innocuously with 64% of victims reporting contamination through inhalation or dermal exposures (NPIC, 20
As pest infestations arise in commercial facilities, directors must quickly hire outside pest control companies to eradicate these unwanted visitors. As detailed in previous articles, infestations themselves incur a multitude of unpredictable costs – both nominal and hidden – that quickly accumulate over time.
A significant portion of these costs stem from the treatment itself. Pest control companies have two options that each have their advantages and disadvantages. First, heat treatment has become increasingly popular due to its relative safety. However, while effective if deployed properly, heat presents significant risks to the facility itself; utilizing high temperatures, this treatment could easily damage floors and furniture (University of Minnesota Department of Entomology). Moreover, research has found that bugs hiding under specific fabrics, such as leather, may survive this treatment as the temperature reaches sublethal levels in this environment (Gondhalekar, 2019). With no residual effects, heat enables some pesky bugs to persist.
Companies also opt to use insecticides, a cheaper option that has a residual effect. However, chemicals have their own list of dangers that one must consider when picking insecticide treatment.
First, bed bugs have built a resistance to commercial pesticides, often leading to their ineffectiveness in treating infestations. To reiterate, chemical solutions rely on penetrating the outside cuticle shells of the insects; however, in recent years, bugs have proven to be increasingly resistant to the most popular commercial insecticides due to a thicker cuticle shell (Lilly et al. 2016).
Moreover, these solutions use ingredients that are quite toxic, for both insects and humans alike. While many of the newest chemical solutions may have few studies proving their harms in humans, pesticide studies naturally have a “lag effect.” As scientists cannot ethically study the harms of these chemicals on humans, the data comes from either animals or case studies that cannot fully materialize until after the pesticides have been utilized for a significant amount of time. Examples of this reality include DDT and glyphosate, as the damaging side effects of these chemicals were not known until several decades of usage have passed (EPA; Zimmer, 2018).
While aeration helps reduce the chance of contamination, pesticide poisoning occurs innocuously, with inhalation and dermal exposures being the two leading types of incidents at 43% and 21% respectively (NPIC, 2019).
Unfortunately, despite the emergence of insecticide studies, pest control firms continue to utilize chemicals, even those with known side effects.
Next time… we will dive into the research surrounding these chemicals to give your facility a better understanding of what is being sprayed.
EPA. “DDT-A Brief History.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status
Gondhalekar, Ameya D. “2018 Highlights of Urban Entomology.” Journal of Medical Entomology 56, no. 5 (2019): 1188–93.
Lilly, David, Sharissa Latham, Cameron Webb, and Stephen Doggett. “Cuticle Thickening in a Pyrethroid-Resistant Strain of the Common Bed Bug, Cimex Lectularius Cimex Lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae).” PLoS One 11, no. 3 (2016).
NPIC. “Distribution of Pesticide Exposure Incidents in the US in 2018, by Type.” United States: Statista, 2019.
University of Minnesota Department of Entomology. “Understanding Bed Bug Treatments.” St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, n.d.
Zimmer, Katarina. “How Toxic Is the World’s Most Popular Herbicide Roundup?” The Scientist, February 6, 2018. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/how-toxic-is-the-worlds-most-popular-herbicide-roundup-30308.
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