Please Don’t “Bomb” Your Brains Out Using Foggers!

By Chris Williams on January 15, 2015.
old bug spray cannister bug bomb

The original “bug bomb,” patented in 1943.

In the pest control industry, we call them total release foggers, or TRFs, but you call them “bug bombs” or “foggers.” I’m talking about those pressurized aerosol cans that many folks think are the only way to get rid of just about any kind of pest. The “bombs” are set off to fill an area with insecticide. They usually contain flammable aerosol propellants that can cause fires or explosions if not used properly.

No special training or licensing is required to use a total release fogger. It’s easy to find examples of bug bomb use that went awry, often causing illness or even explosions when using foggers around ignition sources such as gas pilot lights.

More is Not Better For Your Health!

Each pressurized can contains enough aerosol pesticide to treat a certain number of square feet. But people figure that more is better; if one can is called for, 6 should really do the job! [You can only kill a bug so dead!] People misusing foggers also risk illness if they use too much product, or when they fail to leave the premises during treatment, or fail to air out the premises before going back inside.

Actual Incident 1

A 38 year old woman visited an emergency room complaining of headache, shortness of breath, nausea, leg cramps, burning eyes, cough, and weakness after she was exposed to fumes from 3 total release foggers (6 ounce cans) that were set off at the same time by a downstairs apartment neighbor. One can was set off in the crawlspace beneath the house, one in the neighbor’s apartment, and one in the hallway. The building was an old house converted into apartments, with a single ventilation system connecting all apartments. The neighbor had notified some of the tenants of the treatment, but not the victim. The woman recovered completely after three days.

Actual Incident 2

A 54 year old man simultaneously set off 9 foggers in his small 700 square foot (6,000 cubic foot) home. Each 1.5 ounce can was designed to treat 5,000 cubic feet of unobstructed space. [His home no doubt had much less than 6,000 cubic feet of space since much of it was taken up by furniture and belongings. So he applied about nine times more pesticide than he should have!] When the man returned 6 hours later, a strong odor prompted him to open doors and windows and vacate. He re-entered four hours later and developed headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. He was treated at an emergency room for moderate to severe illness and recovered after 36 hours.

This is where I make my appeal for you to use the services of a professional exterminator instead of DIY foggers. Besides the hazards involved, many people aren’t aware that bug bombs only kill the pests present at the time of use (and sometimes not even those). The killing effect is gone in a few hours and there is no lasting pesticide present to kill cockroaches or bed bugs that hatch from eggs after the treatment or that are introduced later. In contrast, the low risk products that we use will continue working long after they are safely applied.

By USDA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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