Before we carry out a pest control treatment, we often get asked if the treatments are safe for children and pets? It’s a good question to ask and indeed, as safety is our number one priority, we always carry out a risk assessment before carrying out a treatment. This is primarily focused on determining whether there are children around or pets on the premises, but we also take into account any environmental impact.
So, are pest control treatments safe? It’s probably worth looking at general pest control treatments and rodent treatments separately, before looking at environmental safety…
Safe pest control treatments
The chemicals used in pest control are a lot safer than they used to be, but it is still important to follow some general precautions. Whenever we are spraying, we need to make sure pets and children (and indeed adults!) are kept out of the treatment area. And they need to be kept out of the treatment area until the treatment is dry. This is because when the treatment is wet, it more easily passes through the skin.
(It’s always helpful if you can clear away toys and other items from the area to be treated before we arrive. We will double check this is done, before spraying).
If we use cockroach baits or ant baits as part of the treatment, we will generally place them out of reach of children and pets or place them in bait stations. However, since only very small amounts of bait are used, and the baits contain very small amounts of insecticide, even if a pet of child does ingest some, it won’t have any ill effect.
Safe rodent treatments
Whereas modern insecticides have a pretty good safety profile, such that if a pet or child comes into contact with the insecticide or accidentally ingests some, it is unlikely to have any effect, the same cannot be said for rodent baits. Rodent baits are designed to kill rats and mice. As rodents are mammals, like humans and dogs, accidental ingestion of rodent baits by pets or humans can cause problems.
Rodent baits contain a bittering agent, which make them very unpalatable to humans, which means it very unlikely that a child could eat enough bait to cause a problem. Nevertheless, if you suspect your child has eaten any rodent bait, you should seek medical assistance. Even though the bittering agent should make it less palatable to dogs as well, as we know, some dogs will any anything!
The good news is that as rodent baits contain only low levels of rodenticides, a dog would have to eat a large amount of rodent bait for it to be lethal. However, even if they eat some, it can make them ill, so if you suspect your pet has eaten any bait, take it to the vet immediately. Treatment for rodent bait poisoning normally requires a series of injections. Cats are carnivores so are unlike to eat rodent bait, which is based on grains. But they may eat any dead rodents, so it’s always important to check the yard in the days after a rodent treatment and pick up any dead rodents.
In our rodent treatment programs, we always place rodent bait in lockable bait stations to prevent inquisitive fingers and paws accessing the bait, and generally the bait stations will be placed in locations out of the reach of children and pets.
ECOSAFE PEST CONTROL and Environmental safety
When it comes to safety, environmental safety is also very important. For insecticide sprays, we are generally concerned about the impact on honeybees and the impact on aquatic life.
As the products are insecticides, they will harm honeybees. However, as many of the places we spray (e.g. external walls of buildings) aren’t the places bees rest anyway it generally isn’t a major concern. However, if the treatment involves spraying vegetation, we need to make sure the areas we spray do not have flowers in bloom.
Whereas modern insecticides have a great safety profile against mammals, they can impact aquatic life at very low concentrations. When we spray inside and outside the home, we make sure any fish tanks or ponds are covered so that any spray does not accidentally fall onto the water. In addition, when we are proposing termite treatment options, we consider whether the building is near a waterway or on a sloping block, as termiticides applied to the soil could leach into the waterways.
There are also significant environment risks when using rodenticide. Firstly, there is the direct risk – that possums may eat the bait. As possums are native animals, causing them harm or death can result in significant fines. Then there is the indirect risk, that of secondary poisoning. This is where predators, such as birds of prey, eat rodents that have eaten rodent bait, and so become affected themselves. The use of professional pest managers, who understand the risks and take actions to prevent these adverse events (for example by using lockable bait stations), makes sense to prevent any non-target deaths.
So, in answer to the question, are the pest control treatments safe for children, pets and the environment? The answer is yes, providing it is carried out by a knowledgeable, professional pest manager who places safety as their number one priority. At Rebel Pest Professional, you can be assured that’s the case!