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FAQ: PESTICIDES 101
By: Robert D. Batman

KEEP PESTICIDES OUT OF THE REACH AND SIGHT OF CHILDREN AND PETS. The law says you, Repeat You, must read and follow pesticide label instructions. Read the entire label before you purchase the pesticide. Do not purchase a pesticide from anyone who cannot tell you how to use it: "use" refers to transportation, storage, mixing, application, clean-up of spills, and disposal of the pesticide container. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling pesticides or pesticide containers.

1. First things first. What is a pest? A pest is something which competes with people for their food. It can also be defined as something that causes injury or damage, or both, to people, their pets and domestic animals or their property. A pest may be something which simply annoys either people or their pets and domestic animals. There are animal pests, plant pests, and even odor can be a pest!

2. What is a pesticide? Everything is chemical. Can you name anything that is not chemical? A pesticide is simply a special chemical (a chemical tool) designed by chemical engineers to aid in the control of a pest. There are many types of pesticides: insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, miticides, and many others. From the Latin "cida" for "killer." Therefore, pesticide means "pestkiller."

3. What is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and what is the significance of a pesticide being registered by the EPA? Federal laws regarding pesticides are designed to protect those who use pesticides, consumers, pets and domestic animals, and the environment. The first federal Law was the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1906. It was commonly referred to as the Pure Food Act and regulated interstate commerce of food stuffs: it didn't actually regulate pesticides. The Federal Insecticide Act of 1910, was a consumer protection legislation which regulated, to some extent, only insecticides and fungicides. Skipping over some amendments, and moving on to 1947, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) was passed into law and underwent several amendments. The Environmental Protection Agency (commonly referred to as the EPA) was created in 1970 and became responsible for the administration of FIFRA. The EPA is now responsible for Pesticide Registration. All pesticides must be registered by the EPA. The EPA is responsible for overseeing the testing, extensive testing, of pesticides. Before a pesticide can be sold it must be registered. Before a pesticide can be registered, it must be tested. According to the law, the EPA can not register a pesticide unless it can be used in accordance with its label and labeling instructions without harming (injuring) the user, people, pets and domestic animals, threatened and endangered species or their environments. Label registration testing could take 5 to 10 years and cost $25 to $50 million dollars. Ask the service technician about the pesticide label reentry instructions and times and common sense should tell you to keep people and pets out of treat areas and off treated surfaces until the pesticide is dry.

4. Do we need pesticides? Yes. Without pesticides we would be paying much more for many of our necessary products including, but not limited to, food products, and we would be doing a lot more stomping and swatting. In many situations, if not most, pesticide application is still the most economical and effective method of controlling a pest. Negligence with respect to the upkeep of a structure and its grounds leads to conditions conducive to pest infestation and re-infestation. Good Sanitation and correcting conducive conditions (moisture problems, wood-to-soil contact areas, sealing cracks in concrete floors and foundation walls, removing debris from under decking and from within crawl areas, moving the firewood pile away from the structure, caulking where caulking is needed, mowing and/or removing weedy-brushy environments, cleaning up clutter environments and; etc.), are good recommendations, but such action and other alternatives will not replace the need for pesticides.

5. How do I know a professional pest control service technician knows what he is doing and will use pesticides properly? You should have faith in the abilities of your pest control service technician. Service technicians are required to undergo special training in our area of operation: registered technicians in Kansas and licensed technicians in Missouri. Certified applicators must pass state certification testing in the various categories which they use pesticides. We have been providing professional pest control services for a long time and we are really good at what we do! Want to know why? Training! We (Best) are sticklers when it comes to training. We, at Best, believe the first step towards wisdom is the realization one always needs to learn more. We are striving to become even better technicians, and we are enjoying the journey! To find out more about Best: click on our Company Profile.
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6. Are your products "Natural" and/or "Organic?" "Natural" or "Biopesticides" refers to products derived from animal, bacterial or biological, plant, or mineral sources. Microbial pesticides contain one of the following as an active ingredient: bacterium, fungus, virus, protozoan, or alga. "Organic" refers to any substance containing carbon. "Natural-Based" means the product contains some materials that could be referred to as natural. "Organic Based" means the product contains some materials that are organic. Most pesticides we use in residential structures would qualify as one of the above.

7. Do I need to stay out of the house during professional pesticide application and, if so, for how long? This depends on several factors: the label and labeling instructions of the pesticide being used, the extent of the service to be rendered (small area or entire house), the health and/or medical status (also read question 14) of the occupants of the house (some medical conditions may require you to leave for a while), the occupants control over children and pets, and/or the policy of the company providing the service. Ask the service technician about re-entry instructions and re-entry requirements stated on the pesticide label. Your service technician should be able to advise you regarding any requirements to leave during the service and regarding re-entry requirements/recommendations. To minimize your risk, you could wait outside in your vehicle during the service and/or leave following the service and not return for the period of time recommended by your service technician. Common sense should tell you to keep people and pets out of treated areas and off treated surfaces until the pesticide is dry.

8. Do the pesticides you professionals use cause cancer? I hope not! I'm neither a chemist nor a toxicologist, but, I can tell you this: before a pesticide can be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it must undergo extensive testing and it must meet certain standards with respect to risks, potential risks and benefits. The product must, with reasonable certainty, be able to be used in accordance with its label and labeling instructions without causing harm (injury) to the user, humans, their pets, and the environment. There are a great many pesticides out there; more than you might imagine. I have attended special seminars where this subject was addressed, and I have not heard of, nor am I aware of, any evidence, scientific or other, which proves any pesticide we (Best) use to be carcinogenic to humans. But, don't take my word for it: I'm not an epidemiologist. If you have concerns regarding a specific pesticide being carcinogenic, you should contact the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs. They will need the product's name, EPA Registration Number, and perhaps the active and inert ingredients listed on the label along with the percentage of each. You could also contact the manufacturer's toxicologist regarding the product: call the 800 number on the product's label. You should request a written response to the question(s) you ask and to confirm any verbal responses you were given. Don't ask a PCO to give you information and answers he is not qualified to give.

9. How can the insecticide you professionals use kill insects and not harm people and pets? The principal is simple: the amount used, although adequate to kill insects, is far less than that which would harm people, pets and other mammals (big or small). You are exposed to low rates of various toxic chemicals every day and no harm was done because the level of toxicity was too low to harm you: same principal. This does not mean pesticide applicators (anyone using a pesticide) have a license to be sloppy or careless when using pesticides or that they (anyone using a pesticide) can ignore the law (Federal, state, and product label) regarding pesticide use. Professional pest control service technicians must undergo special training before they can use pesticides for commercial purposes. Some insecticides are chemically engineered to enter the insects system and not a mammals. Some insecticides are chemically engineered to be sprayed on food stuff (the fruit on fruit trees, crops in field, grains in grain storage facilities, and etc.), but the residues, if the products are used properly and the food stuff is not eaten or processed until specified on the pesticide label, are not supposed to be at a level with would result in any harm to the person or animal who eats it. Professional pest control service technicians are specially trained to properly apply the appropriate pesticides for the pest situation and environment. Also refer to questions 3, 7, 10, 14, and 15. NOTICE: The above principals apply to all the pesticides we (Best) use, but it may not apply to all pesticides.
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10. Are EPA Registered products are safe? The EPA will not state that pesticides are safe. They, the EPA, don't like the word safe, and neither do I. Remember, there are situations where pesticide use may not be safe. Pesticide use inconsistent with the product's label and labeling instructions could result in injury or damage to persons or property, or both. That's why it is always better (better judgement) to have pesticide applications and placements performed by a professional pest control service technician. With all due respect, most pesticide injury and damage to persons or property, or both, is the result of pesticide use' by untrained people. Use' herein refers to the purchase, transportation, storage, mixing, application, clean-up of spills, and disposal of pesticide and pesticide containers.

11. What about pesticides sprayed on my lawn or on my carpets: are they harmful? Part of the answer to this question has already been addressed in previous questions. Ask the service technician about reentry restrictions and keep people and pets off the treated surfaces and out of treated areas until the pesticide has dried. Revisit previous questions: numbers 3, 7, and 9 of this FAQ's. Response "A" above refers to services performed by a well trained technician from a reputable professional pest control company. However, I will not comment regarding the possibility of harmful effects resulting from the use of pesticides by untrained homeowners other than to say: I could write a book on the possibilities, and I've seen things that scare me!

12. If a pesticide stinks, will the pesticide harm me? To answer this question one would have to know which pesticide is being referenced. Many pesticides stink, but the active ingredient parts per million are at such low levels no actual harm to mammals (people or pets) should result. Methyl bromide actually has no odor, but if you breath it, you could die. Certain pesticides may for a short time emit, during evaporation, harmful fumes. When a professional pest control service technician uses certain pesticide products, the technician should tell you to leave the treatment area and not return for the period of time stated on the pesticide's label. If or whenever you have doubts, its better to err on the side of safety than to be sorry. Again review questions 3, 7, and 9 of this FAQ's.

13. I have a pesticide I purchased at the hardware store. How should I use it? No disrespect intended, but; if you have to ask such a question, my only recommendation would be for you to take the product back to the hardware store and call a professional pest control company for the service you need. We do not permit our service technicians to give pesticide use instructions to anyone. STORY TIME: I was shopping at the grocery store. A child (approximately 5 years old) had removed a can of fly spray from the shelf and was spraying it up and down the isle: he must have seen a bug! Our industry (the pest control industry)is closely regulated: we can't even have pesticides stored in our service vehicles where children can get to them. Other businesses, evidently, (retail outlets) are not as closely regulated and/or inspected as our industry is regarding the pesticides they store, sell, and use themselves in their facilities. Numerous pesticides are within reach of children in most grocery and hardware stores! Do you think this is a matter which needs attention?

14. I'm with child (pregnant). Should I leave the house during pesticide application? Yes. My rule of thumb recommendation would be to leave during the pesticide application. What's a little time away from the house compared to your peace of mind. You should consult your doctor and follow the doctor's advise. Also, read question number 7.
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15. My tomato garden is adjacent the house exterior foundation wall. How will your termite soil treatment affect my tomatoes? Should I still eat them? Adversely and no. Don't eat any plant or part of a plant that may have its roots in soil treated with a liquid termiticide: that is my standing recommendation, and it is a good one.

16. Are the pesticides you professionals use better than the ones I can buy at the hardware store? I will get far better results using my products than you will using yours.

17. Some companies advertise pest elimination and eradication. What kind of pesticides do they use? There is no magic pesticide potion. We (Best Exterminators, Inc.) can purchase any pesticide made. We elect to purchase the finest quality pesticides and equipment available. Our service technicians undergo extensive initial training and are continually attending recurrent, update, and continual education training sessions/seminars: they really know what they are doing. Best offers the best of everything, and that is not a play on words: it's a fact! If it can be done, we can do it! But we do not and never have advertised pest elimination or eradication and for a very good reason: there's no official scientific proof' to support any claims of pest elimination or eradication. If the public's conception of the terms elimination and/or eradication can be defined as zero base or in terms of "total" (meaning no more pests), it would only take one live specimen of one stage of the pest's development (egg, immature, pupa or adult) to defeat a claim of pest elimination or eradication. Therefore, those who advertise either pest elimination or pest eradication are taking a position that is, at this time, probably not very defendable.

18. I have roaches in my kitchen cabinets, drawers and pantry. I don't have time to clean out my cabinets, drawers and pantry. I'll wash everything when I get home. Can't your service technician spray' in there anyway? Sorry, no can do! The results of the (your) service will be much better, if you clean out the cabinets so they can also be treated with liquid residuals, baits and flush agents. Depending on the situation, our technician may be able to apply gel baits and enclosed roach bait stations in certain areas of the cabinets and pantry and on the framing behind and beside the drawers. Our service technician would have to make such a determination at service time. POINT OF INFORMATION: Certain pest problems require certain pre-service preparations on the part of the customer. Failure on the part of the customer to properly prepare limits the thoroughness of the service that can be performed, and it has a direct and adverse affect on the effectiveness of the service provided.

19. My pet is a really large amphibian type person. Will the pesticide hurt him? I'd recommend removing pets during treatment from the area(s) being treated with pesticide. In your case, your doing this for two reasons: 1) to protect you pet and, 2) to keep it from scaring the service technician to death! Ask the service technician when the pet can reenter the treated area.

20. Why do some pesticides stink and others don't? It has to do with the formulation. For example: products which have certain emulsifiers and solvents will generate odor. Many products actually have very little, if any, active ingredient odor: it is usually something other than the active ingredient you are smelling. Some people think, and mistakenly so, that a pesticide's odor strength relates directly to its effectiveness. Odor usually doesn't have anything to do with a pesticide's effectiveness.

21. What is this new Integrated Pest Management (IPM) I keep hearing about? Buzz words and phrases: how I hate thee, let me count the ways. I suppose you want the short of it before the long of it: ok, no problem. Briefly, the acronym, IPM, is of recent (over 20 years ago) origin, however, the utilization of more than one pest control method ( pesticide control' is one control method, mechanical' is another control method, and there are others) dates back to 1,000 B.C. Therefore, the concept and practice of Integrated Pest Management is certainly not new. About the year 1,000 B.C., there was a Greek poet by the name of Homer. Hey! I remember Homer. Wasn't he the guy who sat in the front of the class and made straight A's? Well, in about 1,000 BC, it is recorded by Homer that houses of the time were fumigated by the burning of sulfur: the first recorded history of pesticide use. It was also known that a lot of bug whacking went on back then too: another method of pest control. There you have it: IPM dating back to 1,000 BC. I rest my case.
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22. How many ways (methods: we call them methods) are there to kill/control pests? There are basically two (2) classifications which the various pest control methods fall into: 1) Natural Forces: those of nature which people have little or no control over and, 2) Applied Methods (sometimes called Others): initiated or applied by people. These are further subdivided: see below. Natural Forces: 1. climatic (temperature fluctuations, rain and drought); 2. natural enemies (disease agents and predators); 3. topography (mountains, large bodies of water and soil types), and; 4. food and water supply (survival depends on food and water supply). Applied Methods (the result of human action): 1. host resistance (selective breeding and hybrid verities); 2. biological (man's use/introduction of natural enemies); 3. cultural methods (crop rotation and cultivation); 4. mechanical methods (traps, screens, metal or other barriers, electrical, or you could shoot the sucker); 5. sanitation (keep it or them clean); 6. legal (quarantines); and, 7. pesticides or chemical (use of pesticides).

23. Certain special interest groups want to get rid of pesticides. Do we really need pesticides? For what its worth, here's how I see it. Fact: Millions of deaths and disablements are attributed annually to insect-borne diseases. Fact: Well over 100 billion dollars of damage and injury to personal property is a direct result of pests annually, according to our industry. Fact: There's a world food shortage and millions, if not billions, of dollars of food crops are lost annually to insects and insect-like pests. Fact: Over half the world's population is undernourished. Fact: There's worldwide political unrest in many parts of the world: areas where people are going hungry, insect transmitted disease is going unchecked due to little or no pesticide use. Meaningful improvement in these areas doesn't look very promising at this time. Fact: Indeed the future of world economy (agriculture and industry), not to mention human health, depends on the control of harmful pests now more than ever! Fact: Pesticides are essential in protecting the world's rapidly expanding population: their health, their crops and processed food products, their pets and domestic animals, their clothing, their priceless possessions and other works of art, their structures, and their living, working and recreational environments. To legislate against pesticide use will, in my opinion, adversely affect our standard of living because: 1) the expensive alternatives have not proven they can do the job, and; 2) the average citizen can't afford the alternatives. Fact: I work with pesticides every working day, and have for over 25 years, providing my customers a safer and healthier living, working and recreational environment. My use of pesticides has never caused any harm to me, my customers, their children, pets, domestic animals, crops, food or water supplies, property, or their living, working or recreational environment nor have I harmed any endangered or threaten species or their environment. Opinion: I'm a professional, and I'm really good at what I do. So, what do I think about the environmental activist groups who want to do away with pesticides? Opinion: I sincerely believe in their right to voice their opinions. It doesn't mean they are right nor do I have to agree with them. I do not have to support their causes, and I can question the basis of their claims and their actual agenda: that's my right. As for what or who you should believe, that's something you'll have decide for yourself. You've seen a brief listing of facts supporting the use (proper use) of pesticides: many more could be presented. Recommendation: Whatever you decide, you should support the interest groups that think like you do.

24. What about spraying trees when the neighbor to the north east has a swimming pool in his back yard? Spraying (launching pesticides into the air) presents the very real possibility of chemical trespass which could result in contamination of the neighbors swimming pool, especially if the wind is from the S.W.

25. My house sits near a lake and I have a nearby water well and cistern. Can anything be done about the termite infestation in my house? Yes. Based on the general information provided, a termite baiting service would be the appropriate choice in this situation.

26. How do insecticides work? This simple question is much more complicated than it appears. The briefest explanation would be to say that, depending on the insecticide, it will either be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed, and the desired result occurs. All pesticides have one thing in common, they block one or another metabolic sequence, but how they do it (their mode of action) is not always clearly understood. The same can be said of many of our pharmaceutical drugs. Time doesn't permit pursuing this further than to explain the following: A) Insecticides are classified by mode-of-action into the following seven (7) classifications: 1) nerve poisons, 2) muscle poisons, 3) protoplasmic poisons, 4) metabolic inhibitors, 5) cytolytic toxins, 6) physical toxins, and 7) alkylating agents, and; B) The EPA requires detailed mode-of-action studies before they will register a compound. Their supporting data requirements are very explicit regarding mode-of-action. This data is the basis for understanding the pesticides behavior in animals as well as for aiding in developing antidotes and safety precautions for humans as well as other animals.

27. Can you prove that the pesticide(s) you employ and the service you provide will result in elimination or eradication of the pests in my residence or workplace? No. To eradicate or eliminate a pest implies zero base (no pests left, in any life stage). Let's look briefly at a roach control situation. If a pest control company is performing pest control measures for German roaches in a house or restaurant, how can s/he prove their service killed the entire roach population (adults, nymphs, and eggs including those within the walls and other inaccessible areas) in the building? If you can't prove it, you better not advertize it or guarantee it. To intentionally misrepresent one's capability for self benefit is to dance on a very narrow fence with fraud beds on both sides. One could easily slip and land in the wrong spot at the wrong time!

28. What about a service warranty? Certain types of pest control services includes a service warranty and others do not. Remember, we are dealing with, trying to control, living organisms! Does you doctor give you any guarantees or warranties when he deals with your parasites? Pest control service isn't magic. Refer to the previous question (#27).

29. Following a pesticide application there was a light color stain on my dark brown mop board. What should I do? Contact the pest control service company to let them know what happen and ask for their advice. Some professional pesticides, depending on their formulation and dilution strength, could leave a visible residue on dark color surfaces. Such a residue can usually be easily removed without causing any harm to the surface.

30. How many pesticides are there? The last time I read such data, there were only about 120 American firms manufacturing pesticides (base level production) with fewer than 20 providing the majority of the production. In addition to the base manufacturers there were some 2,000 formulators providing over 20,000 different pesticide products. Remember, the structural pest control business is not the only business for which pesticides are produced. As a mater of fact only a very few of the pesticides produced are labeled for structural pest control use. KEEP PESTICIDES OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL BEFORE USING THE PESTICIDE. DO NOT REUSE THE PESTICIDE CONTAINER (the container the pesticide came in) ONCE IT IS EMPTY. Protect the pesticide container: you may need to read the label later! Dispose of the empty pesticide container immediately following the pesticide label instructions.
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