Pesticides in the Home

Pesticides may be used in and around the home to control a variety of pests - such as insects, weeds, mice, and microorganisms (e.g., molds, bacteria). Many common household products are pesticides, including disinfectants, ant and roach sprays, and head lice shampoos. If these products are used or stored improperly, they may be harmful to our health.

According to data collected from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2000 alone, an estimated 73,000 children were involved in common household pesticide-related poisonings or exposures in the United States. An additional 25,153 children were exposed to or poisoned by household bleach. Pesticides exposures may also result in chronic and sometimes more subtle effects, depending on the nature and extent of the exposure, toxicity, and other factors.

If pesticides are used indoors, they should be used carefully according to label directions. In many cases, parents and others in the home may take steps to prevent or reduce unnecessary pesticide exposures. For consultation or more information about pesticides, see the links below or our Pesticide Contacts page.

Emergencies/Hotlines

Minnesota Poison Control System

National Pesticide Information Center

Tips for Reducing Exposures

There are many steps that you can take to prevent or reduce unnecessary pesticide exposures around the home. For example:

  • Reduce the need to use chemical pesticides. Prevent pests from entering the home by closing or sealing openings. Eliminate sources of food and moisture so that the environment is not conducive to pests. Use physical means to control pests, such as fly swatters, whenever possible.
  • If you use pesticide products at home or elsewhere: (1) use products such as horticultural oils and diatomaceous earth or non-broadcast products such as baits or traps; (2) read and follow all label instructions, including instructions regarding the proper use of the pesticide product, the location for application, the quantity to be applied, the frequency of application, the method of application; and (3) remove food, dishes, toys, and other objects before treating indoors.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
  • Avoid treated areas during and after treatment.
  • Remove shoes at the door so that soil and dust are not tracked into the house.
  • Ensure that pesticide products are stored in safe containers and in places where children do not have access to them.

Hiring a Reputable Applicator

If you plan to hire a pesticide applicator, shop around. Ask the pesticide applicator if he/she has a current Minnesota license to apply pesticides, and ask questions about the pesticide product (name of product, active ingredient) and method of application. Ask where the applications may be made, and what steps you can take to reduce unnecessary exposures (e.g., remove toys, objects from the room when the application is made). Also, identify steps that you can take to prevent the pest problem from reoccurring so that future pesticide applications will not be necessary. For more information about hiring a reputable pesticide applicator, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Evaluating Your Risks

Information about pesticide products, including active ingredients, exposure, and toxicity:

Reporting an Incident

If you believe that you were exposed to pesticides as a result of an illegal pesticide application (i.e., the application was not made according to directions on the product label), report the incident to:

The Department will evaluate the information and determine if further investigation and/or disciplinary action is needed. MDA is the lead state agency for reporting and investigating pesticide incidents in Minnesota.

Resources

For additional information, see Pesticide Links (by topic), and the links below.

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Updated Monday, July 25, 2011 at 10:23AM