Insecticides are chemicals used to kill mosquitoes, ants, flies, fleas, and other insects. Will this substance that can kill mosquitoes be harmful to our body? Practicing the following four precautionary habits will give you peace of mind when using insecticides, as the weather warms and bugs start to fly.
Many people are so frightened when they discover cockroaches indoors that they spray the insecticide on them until they are dead. Some people may have lots of planters around their yard, and regularly and excessively spray insecticides all over their yard to eradicate the mosquitos.
This excessive spraying can cause overexposure to the insecticides. Common insecticides are divided into spray-type insecticides which can be water-based or oil-based and smoke-type insecticides which are natural insecticides using the tobacco leaves and water. According to Zhao Mingwei, an associate professor of Zhongyan University who is a poison expert, no matter what insecticide we use, three parts of our body will still be affected.
3 Areas to Protect
Our respiratory tract is the first to be affected by the insecticide. As we breathe, the insecticide will be inhaled into the respiratory tract and lungs and may cause irritation. Over a period of time, one will develop allergies and pneumonia.
Our skin is the second area to be affected by the insecticide and overexposure to the skin can trigger skin irritations which include redness and dermatitis.
Our eyes are the third common area to get allergic reaction or irritating damage due to overexposure to the insecticides.
Studies Point to Possible Degenerative Disease Connection
Many studies reveal a possible correlation between frequent use of insecticides or pesticides and Parkinson’s disease or neurodegenerative diseases.
A periodical published in the 2013 International Journal of Epidemiology stated that using any household insecticide can increase the risk of getting Parkinson’s Disease by 47 percent. Furthermore, if the insecticide contains organophosphorus, then the risk of Parkinson will increase to 71 percent. This periodical inferred that households in the United States use insecticides on a regular basis and many of those insecticides contain organophosphorus.
Other common insecticides for household use often contain pyrethroid and pyrethrin with a milder toxin. However, some researchers believe that long-term pyrethroid exposure may lead to neurocognitive disorders.
Zhao said that one only uses insecticides infrequently, and takes care to shield the face, “then using the insecticide should not be a health hazard”.
Take These Precautions
1) Keep away from human and pets while spraying the insecticides.
If you are using spray-type insecticides, you should first remove your pets from the premises and avoid spraying in the direction where people are, and immediately vacate the premises afterwards. The smoke-type insecticides can only be used in a sealed and confine spaces where neither humans nor pets present.
The human body’s sensitivity to pesticides is very low, your health would not be affected as long as you are not overexposed. However, pets can be highly sensitive to insecticides. Pyrethroid, an ingredient in the many insecticides, is especially toxic to cats since cats lack the needed enzymes to break it down. In households with cats, one has to be extra cautious when using insecticides.
Do not let your pets come into contact with the treated area immediately after the application of insecticides. If your pets happen to come into contact with the insecticide, immediately bathe them to prevent chemical lingering on the pet’s hair.
2) Reduce the amount of exposure to insecticides.
Zhao suggested splitting the application of spray insecticides across two or three instances rather than all at once, in order to space out and reduce the amount of chemical exposure you are getting all in one go.
Smoke insecticides that fill a space are suitable for cases of indoor fleas, bed bugs, dust mites, and other insects that feed on dander and do not escape outside, but it is not recommended for the purpose of treating to exterminate the dust mites in bedding such as mattresses.
It is safer to remove dust mites via sun exposure than with chemical treatments.
“High heat and sunlight are the best ways to remove dust mites,” Zhao said. Spraying your mattress is of particular concern, as you may end up spending all night breathing in residual chemicals.
3) Do not return to the insecticide’s treatment area too quickly, and keep the space ventilated.
Zhao pointed out that it takes at least one to two hours for the suspended particles from the insecticides in the air to settle after the treatment. Therefore, regardless of the type of insecticides used, he recommended not to return for at least one to two hours after the treatment to avoid contact with the floating particles.
Then, you need to open the doors and windows when returning to the treatment site to allow airflow. Turn on the air purifier if you have one.
4) Sanitize the area with water.
Since smoke insecticides and water-based spray insecticides are water-soluble, you can sanitize the affected areas such as flooring and other household objects that are in contact with insecticides with clean water or dilute some bleach with clean water.
For instance, if cockroaches unexpectedly show up in high-trafficked areas such as the living room, you may sanitize the area with a clean wet rag after exterminating with insecticide, especially if you have pets that lay on the floor.
Oil-based insecticides are more difficult to handle. When the oil-based insecticides get on the floor, the floor is sticky and you can see it because it visibly reflects light. Using cleanser with oil or stain remover to mop or wipe the floor is the simple remedy. You can even use dilute dishwashing soap in water to clean your floor.
Alcohol aids in breaking down oil stains; therefore, alcohol can also be used on surfaces in contact with oil-based insecticides. However, you need to be mindful of the fact that rubbing alcohol can discolor the paint on the floor and the walls.
If the spray-type insecticides accidentally get on your body, or if you mistakenly enter a room while smoke-type insecticides are being applied:
If the insecticides get on your clothes, wash the clothes that same day.
If the insecticides accidentally get on your skin, first flush the skin with running water for 10-15 minutes and then wash the skin with soap at least twice. If there is a cut on the skin, you must determine if the poison has been rapidly absorbed by the skin. If you are unwell due to insecticide exposure, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.
If the insecticides get in your eyes, regardless of the type, you need to flush your eyes with running water for 10-15 minutes. If the eyes still feel a burn, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
What about if insecticides enter your respiratory tract? You will definitely notice it if you accidentally inhale insecticides. You need to leave the affected area immediately. Immediately go to a well-ventilated area, breath in more fresh air, and drink a lot of milk or a lot of water.
If you experience severe discomfort such as nausea, vomiting, or having difficulty breathing, then seek medical attention as soon as possible.