People mixing chemicals and using pesticides bought off store shelves to eliminate bed bugs are putting their households in danger, Andy Gedeon, director of Environmental Health at the Portsmouth Health Department told Portsmouth Daily Times.
"The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) just issued an alert that there has been a lot of cases of pesticide poisoning or pesticide exposure, due to self-treatment of bed bugs," Gedeon said.
He told the newspaper people are purchasing bug-killing formula from hardware stores and spraying the interior of their homes with them instead of calling a professional, thereby endangering themselves, family members and pets. The Ohio Department of Health said no over-the-counter treatments effectively eliminate bed bugs.
"Some people are even taking pesticides that are only for outdoor use and using those inside," Gedeon said. "People who have no training and no certification are trying to treat themselves in an attempt to save money."
Pesticide misuse is very dangerous and can be life threatening in some cases. Exposure symptoms include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, loss of consciousness and tremors. Gideon warned children are especially susceptible to pesticide harm because of their tendency to touch surfaces and put their hands in their mouths. Chemicals can settle on toys, increasing the risk of sickness.
Gideon strongly advised Portsmouth residents hire a pest management professional if they detect signs of bed bugs.
"Make sure that they are licensed," he advised. "If you have any questions on that, they should be able to provide the documentation."
Taking precautions to protect the home
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), one in five Americans have either experienced a bed bug infestation or know someone who has. Homeowners can take precautionary measures to avoid becoming part of this 20 percent.
Bed bugs can be picked up anywhere and can survive in unlikely places, like buses, health clubs and movie theaters, for extensive periods of time. The NPMA reports even the Empire State Building experienced an infestation.
Because the critters are active in the dark, they can be difficult to detect at first. Bed bugs shed their skin, and residents can look for pepper-like spots on surfaces, mattresses and in crevices. The NPMA suggests changing linens often and avoiding clutter in the home to eliminate any potential hiding places for the pests.
When traveling, it's a good idea to inspect hotel rooms before settling in and keep luggage away from beds and furniture. Upon returning home, residents should check suitcases for bed bug signs. If they find evidence of the critters, homeowners should call an exterminator promptly.