Save a Burger

DIY Pest Control Fails #1

In San Joaquin County, a man heavily sprayed his barbecue for ants one morning. That evening, he used the treated side to cook hamburger. He felt sick minutes after eating the meat. He sought care after vomiting all night. The insecticide label requires users to protect food handling equipment from contamination.

This incident is one of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) “Top 10 Pesticide Blunders” released during National Poison Prevention Week. They remind everyone how to avoid illness and injury by selecting household cleaning and gardening products that pose the least risk to their health and the environment and to follow label instructions.

“Pesticides are designed to control or kill ants, spiders, weeds and other pests,” DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam said. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to select products that best target the problem. Then follow the label instructions carefully to prevent anyone from getting sick or hurt.”

Warmerdam also urged consumers to consider an integrated pest management approach to reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides. This strategy includes removing crumbs and other food sources, fixing leaky plumbing, and sealing cracks and crevices with caulk so pests can’t get in.

She suggested these extra precautions to prevent pesticide exposure in and around the home: Store pesticides properly to keep them away from children and adults who are unable to recognize pesticide containers. Keep pesticides in their original containers so no one mistakes them for food or drink. Never put pesticides in food or drink containers. Do not mix bleach with ammonia or other cleansers. This can form a toxic gas.

None of these “blunders” — compiled from DPR’s Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program — resulted in death, although most victims required medical treatment. Don’t be a statistic. If you must use pesticides yourself, READ THE LABEL and stay safe. Better yet, call Thrasher Termite & Pest Control.

In Fresno County, a resident obtained aluminum phosphide pellets intended for professional use only, applied them to a squirrel hole next to his garage and gas meter, and added water to activate them. A few hours later, he smelled a strong odor from the application, evacuated his family and called the fire department. The family stayed away from the house for six days to make sure the fumigant had dissipated. The man declined to tell authorities how he got the pesticide, a restricted-use product that requires a license he did not have. The product could have exploded, started a fire or killed someone, all of which have occurred when this chemical was handled improperly.

In San Diego County, two mothers chatted while their children, a 2-year- old and a baby, played in the next room. Sudden laughter prompted one mom to check on the youngsters. She found the older child with an insecticide can and the baby’s face shiny-wet and smelling of pesticide. The baby was bathed and taken for medical care.

In Shasta County, a man spraying for ants took a bathroom break. He thought he left the sprayer inoperable. His wife found their 2-year-old son spraying the insecticide into their toaster. Although she washed the child and discarded the toaster, she took him for care after he vomited.

A Sonoma County apartment resident sprayed three aerosol cans of lice treatment on his bed, then went to sleep. He awoke the next morning with a headache, nausea, and vomiting. He did not read or follow the product label directions and told investigators he assumed the more he used, the more effective it would be.