Increased Incidence of Cancers in Pest Control Workers

Multiple epidemiological, biological, and toxicological studies have shown that pest control workers have a higher rate of cancer, which correlates to positively to their extent of pesticide exposure.  While the EPA has worked hard to reduce the health risks associated with pesticide use and has removed many of the most dangerous chemicals from the market, risks remain. In response to public concerns, the EPA has advised making less use of chemicals that are lipophillic (stay in the body longer), longer-lasting, and or broad spectrum.

One reason the EPA can’t do more to reduce the risks associated with pesticide exposure is the need to balance benefits versus dangers. Frequently, therefore, the agency justifies approval of pesticides with known health risks because of their proven ability to eradicate difficult pest problems. The reassuring news is that consumers who use pesticides as directed are not in serious danger of developing pesticide related cancers.  However, pest chemical applicators and to a certain extent their family, have a much greater exposure to cancer causing chemicals and consequently greater chance of developing pesticide related cancers.

Cancers known to be caused by pesticide exposure include cancers of the bladder, brain, liver, lung, prostate, gastro- intestinal tract, respiratory system, testicles, malignant lymphomas, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and other forms of carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. The five most common cancers  associated with pesticide use are prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer.

A list of pesticides associated with the four most common pesticide related cancers are:

Prostate cancer – Fonos, Terbufos, Malathion, Permethrin, Aldrin, Chlordecone, Lindane, DDT, Dieldrin, Simazine, and Methyl Bromide (methyl halide).

Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) – Lindane, Dieldrin, Toxaphene, MCPA (phenoxy herbicide), β-Hexachlorobenzene, DDT, Chlordane (oxychlordane), Glyphosate, Atrazine (triazine), and Mirex

Adult Leukemia – Fonofos (OP), Diazinon (OP), Metribuzin (triazinone herbicide), Alachlor (aniline herbicide), EPTC (thiocarbamate), Chlordane/heptachlor (OC),

Multiple Myeloma (MM) – Permethrin (pyrethroid insecticide), Captan (phthalimide fungicide), Carbaryl (carbamate insecticide)

Tips From an Exterminator on How to Choose an Over-the-Counter Roach Spray

I’m Boruch Fishman and welcome to another episode of Day in the Life of Dovid Davis Pest Specialist,” Today Dovid will be giving us tips about how a homeowner can select a really good anti-roach over-the counter-pesticide. If you listen closely, you’re going to get the real scoop about what’s going on  in cans of roach spray that are available on the market and…how you can determine which ones will help you. And now let’s join the interview in progress.

Boruch: So let me tell you, here’s the situation, at two different times I purchased two different cockroach sprays. I’m a homeowner, I’m not specially knowledgeable about pest sprays, I just went to two separate stores and asked at each place for the best pesticide against roaches that they had in the shop. At the first store I purchased a can of roach spray for about 6-8 dollars.  The ingredients included 1.1% propoxur, .05% tetrametrin, 1% piperonylbutoxide, and .320% MGX.  The other store had roach spray for about 8 dollars. Th spray had only .1% of MGX as opposed to .32% and it didn’t have the tetramethrin, but it had .03% of deltramethrin and .266% of cypromethrin. So I shopped at both stores and then I decided to purchase the roach spray at the first store. It was a bit less money, but it had greater content of the MGX, and it had much greater content of the piperyonylbutoxide. So I took the roach spray home and tried it out. It made a horrible smell, and wherever I sprayed it it made the coackroaches run out from their hiding place to another. But unless I made a direct hit on a roach it didn’t kill them, it didn’t kill a single one of them.

Dovid: Okay, lets do the interview.

Boruch Huh?

Dovid: Let’s do the interview.

Boruch: This is the interview. I’m asking you the question and you’ll provide the answer. So I went out and bought the other product. I took it home and sprayed it. It didn’t have any smell but it started killing the roaches right away. They just started dropping over dead, and not just when I sprayed it, but all that day and the next day and the next. Whenever the roaches walked through the areas I sprayed on they died. And sometimes it took time for them to die but they seemed to walk out into the open and die, until I had dead roaches lying all over the place.

So the question is, how does a homeowner evaluate which of these roach sprays is effective and which one of them is essentially no better than a can of smelly water?

Dovid: You can’t, there’s no way to tell

Boruch: Okay, well let me ask you this. In retrospect, the one with Cypermethrin and Deltamethrin did the job, the one with Tetramethrin didn’t.

Dovid: Tetramethrin is what we usually use for ants and smaller insects.

Boruch: Is that right? Okay so you use Tetramethrin for ants and here they are putting it in roach sprays.

Dovid: All these sprays do work, the question is what is your expectation. If you are a homeowner who wants an insecticide that he can spray on roaches and they will die, there are chemicals that will do that. That is probably the least favorable way of doing pest control, Why? Because if you spray a bug and it dies, that is the only bug that is exposed. You do want to kill the bugs that are exposed, but you want to get to the nest and the colony, which is not exposed. So what you want to do is have a product that is delayed reaction, so that the bugs will interface with it and then bring it back to the colony, spread it around, and thereby kill all of the colony, which you don’t know where it is.

Boruch: The thing is, the spray that works for me, it does both. It kills a lot of the roaches immediately, but it also works as a delayed reaction type spray. I was away for 10 days, after spraying my apartment. When I came back, there were dead roaches everywhere. But with the other spray, that gave off the odor that never happened. There wasn’t a single time that it gave a delayed reaction kill.

Dovid: Well what you may have seen was that over time there were less roaches.

Boruch: I didn’t

Or it may be that the active ingredient takes longer, or it may be that you didn’t put the chemical where the roaches are going to get it.

Boruch: No, I put the spray in the same places as the other one. Now with the first spray, that had the Tetramethrin, which you say works really good on

Dovid: Wait a minute; let me explain how pesticides work. Pesticides are chemicals in a water base. After spraying, the water evaporates leaving behind the pesticide chemicals, which have adhered to various surfaces. When the roaches subsequently come in contact with the active ingredient, how they die will depend upon how they came in contact with the ingredient, and the extent of it.

Dovid: There’s no such thing as a product on the market in the pesticide world that doesn’t work, they just work differently.

Cypermethrin – an odorless insecticide effective against a wide range of ants, roaches and insects.

Boruch: Okay, let me ask you what do you know about Cypermethrin?

Dovid: I use it every day.

Boruch: First let me tell the listeners that I live in a foreign country that may have different restrictions about use of insecticides. But on the can it says this is a “professional strength spray.” Can non pest control specialists use Cypermethrin in the United States?

Dovid: At some strength Cypermethrin is available to the public. The question would be professionally are you using a 0.5% or are you using a 1.5%. It’s a matter of how much insecticide you are using. Cypermethrin is a very good product and it’s just a matter of what strength is available for the public to use.

Boruch: We’re using .26%

Dovid: What I’m saying is that as a product it is very good. Now how it gets to the consumer is a different question. However, keep in mind there is no company that’s going to sell a product that doesn’t have some effect on the target, on the pest. No company is going to produce a product that the client is going to abuse. So the product I am going to buy is going to be at a strength that requires skill and expertise to use it. So some of the consumer pesticides, you could take a bath in it and nothing would happen, I guarantee it. Because they’re not going to put any chemical in the hands of a public who are not going to read the label and will abuse it.

Boruch: Okay, so you’re saying that at certain strength Cypermethrinis a professional strength chemical.

Dovid: Umhuh. Every chemical you have named is in my arsenal, and I have used it at one time or another.

Boruch: Do you use Cypermethrin at .26%?

Dovid: Every chemical you have named is in my tank.

Boruch: What about Deltamethrin?

Dovid: I’ll tell what these chemicals are. If you go back 20 years they had a product called Duraspan. They took Duraspan off the market about 5, 6, or 7 years ago. Duraspan was a product that was an offshoot of an excellent product that was taken off the market before Duraspan. Once they took that very good product off the market they had Duraspan, and once they took Duraspan off the market they came up with all these other products Tetramethrin, Cypermethrin and Deltamethrin, which are little Duraspans. Maybe some of them will have a little bit of Pyrethrium in it, a little bit of the real stuff; but all these things are synthetic Duraspan products. Instead of buying Duraspan at 10%, you’re buying products like these at .1%, a lot different. They made it  a lot weaker so they could control it.

Boruch: Right.

Boruch: Okay, now let me ask you, the Propoxur, what does that do?

Dovid: That’s another insecticide, getting into the petroleum distillates. It’s of the family of insecticides in the carbamate family, and its known for its quick knockdown effect. So by adding propoxur to longer acting insecticides you get both an immediate kill and a long-term kill. Regarding the odor, it has nothing to do with the strength of the product. I can show you a strong pesticide that is odorless, and a weak pesticide that has a strong odor.

Boruch: Going back to the insecticide with the smell, the four ingredients were Propoxur, Tetramethrin, piperonyl butoxide, and MGX. Of those four ingredients, which one was responsible for the smell.

Dovid:. Actually, all these products are oil based, and oil has a smell. So when they want to make an odorless product, they kept the oil based products out as much as possible. The oil, being a carrier, but it also has a smell to it. The oil also creates the gas which contributes to the ability of the pesticides to be sprayed.  And that’s why on some of these products there is so little pesticide and so much inert ingredient that carries the product and allows it to be sprayed. I can actually make changes to the pesticide to take out the odor. I went to one ladies house who had young children around. I didn’t want to spread a noxious smell around the rooms so I added a tiny bit of baby oil to the spray Afterwards she said, “Oh,” what did you put in the spray it smells like a baby’s room.

Boruch: My experience was that the spray that has the smell did absolutely nothing.

David: One other thing to keep in mind is that not all products on the market work speedily. There is a popular product called Roach Kill. And the active ingredient in Roach Kill is boric acid. And there  a million campaigns out there to sell Roach Kill.  But what’s the problem? It takes three weeks of constant exposure before boric acid will kill a single roach. In the professional world, if I take three weeks to kill the roaches I’m fired, done deal. You want an insecticide that will make a roach flip on its back and die immediately. They don’t make those type of sprays anymore, they’ve taken them off the market.

So do people use Boric acid? Yes. They buy it and use it, and have white Boric acid powder sprinkled all over their house and it takes three weeks to kill the roaches. But as a professional, am I going to use it? No. My clients want their roaches dead in three days not three weeks.

Boruch: We have to end the interview at this point because of time considerations, but I have some final comments. Dovid is a professional, so he’s not going to come out and directly criticize anyone in his industry. But what he did tell us was that in least one roach spray that I found on the market has a killing ingredient that is effective against ants, and their touting it as a treatment for roaches. Other ingredients that are being added in are abrasive chemicals that make the roaches run from one place to another, but they are not killing them.

Now Dovid also noted that just because a spray smells bad to us doesn’t mean it works. The real killing agents are odorless.

The second point I want to make is that there are sprays on the market that really work. The difference between the two sprays that I used was like night and day.  I live in another country, and I don’t know if you can get sprays at the strength that I used, when you’re shopping over the counter, but if you can look for a spray that has at least .26% Cypermethrin or at least .030% or more Deltamethrin.

Now third, don’t be fooled by the fact that one spray has more of one ingredient than another. The spray I used that didn’t work had more Piperonyl butoxide and more MGX then the spray that worked. But these are obviously not the killing agents.

Fourth, once you find a spray that works stick with it. Don’t think it’s your imagination or that you will use another spray the next time and it will be just as effective. Not necessarily true!

Well, that wraps it up for another episode of “Day in the Life of Dovid Davis Pest Specialist.” Folks, I’m Boruch Fishman, have a pest free day.

Are Flea Pesticides Harmful to Your Health?

Flea Control Baltimore

Flea Control Baltimore

Dovid is a respected professional Baltimore pest control  expert, who is very experienced in using all the chemicals in the pest control armementarium. We’re going to be asking Dovid togive his opinion about some of the chemicals in flea and tick sprays, which are known to be carcinogenic.

Boruch: Dovid, I looked into this problem. I found a group called NRDC, the National Resource Defense Council. This group has set up a web page which provides information about all the sprays and chemicals used to treat fleas and tics.

I checked on their list to see what they had to say about the chemical treatment you most often talk about, “Front Line.” And here’s what they say. “It is used sparingly, and avoided if there is a pregnant woman in the house and avoid using around children, because the main product, Fipronil, is considered a possible carcinogen. What’s your response to this?

Dovid: Fipronil is a powerful chemical. It is a major ingredient of Combat Roach Spray, Max Force, and it is also found in pesticides. Because you find it the sprays that I use for roaches and termites, you have to have to use the same precautions that you would in general.But Front Line, even though it has Fipronil, is not a spray. It is something that you are putting on the pet itself.

Boruch: Would you recommend that Front Line not be used in a household with a pregnant woman and a young child and a cat that likes to jump up onto the mother’s lap?

Dovid: No, no. In the first place, it’s not my responsibility. Fipronil sprays are purchased from the vet. That’s something that a veterinarian would give to a family after they took their dog to be flea dipped. So that a family getting a product with fipronil will be getting a disclaimer saying how the product should be used, and they won’t think it’s like Brill cream that you can just spread around the pet.

Boruch: So that’s really the responsibility of the vet and not the pest control specialist. But what about Revolution flea and tick collars for cats, this website says that the risk is so great that you should avoid them all together.

Dovid: Most people oppose the use of flea collars because the pesticide impregnated surface continually rubs against the pet’s neck.

Boruch: According to the NRDC, the collars are impregnated with propoxr, a probable carcinogen! Are you familiar with it at all?

Dovid: Probably. Yes, yes. But once again, these are regular insecticides, but the amount they are using on pets is a minute amount. So when you were talking about fipronil, I use fipronil for roaches and termites in a one gallon container. A tube of Front Line only contains about 6 drops of anti-flea medication. That’s all you’re getting, not ounces but drops. And it will say put two drops on the hind legs and two drops behind the shoulder blades. And that’s it, you’re not getting quantity. So it would be very hard to mess it up, ’cause you really not getting that much.

Boruch: What about Advantage? The NRDC describes it as similar to Front Line. They recommend, once again, to use it sparingly and not at all around pregnant women or children.

Dovid: Again, this is a treatment that is applied to the animal and not to the house. The medicine can only be purchased from a vet, and the amounts to be applied are a matter of droplets. If you were going to be dealing with large quantities it might potentially be hazardous. But the amount that you are getting, the drops, are not going to harm anything. So a pregnant woman could apply it to a dog, because the disclaimer will instruct her to use gloves when she is applying it. So she is only going to be breaking open a little tube and squeezing a drop or two here and a drop or two here.

Boruch: So let me paraphrase what you just said. The quantity of pesticide used in flea treatment is minute and the sale and application of these minute amounts is controlled by the veterinarian.

Dovid: That’s not anything that the exterminator is going to be dealing with.

Boruch: Okay. This website also recommends using safer alternatives. These include things that you also recommend, washing the bedding, vacuuming the house, combing daily with a fine tooth flea comb. They also recommend that homeowners try natural flea repellants such as sprays made of lemon grass and cedar wood. Then if the infestation is severe, they advise homeowners to use pesticides containing low risk chemicals such as pyropoxiphen, nitropyron and spinosad.

Dovid: You can do all those things that are natural. But when all else fails call an exterminator.

Well, that’s it for another episode of “Day in the Life of Dovid Davis Pest Specialist ,” and folks, have a pest free day.


Are Modern Pesticides Harmful to Your Health?

Baltimore Pest Control

Pest Control in Baltimore

Hi, I’m Boruch Fishman, and welcome to another episode of Close Up. Today, we will be considering if the pesticides on the market today are safe for home use?

Current insecticides on the American market are safer than before, but they can still cause illness and even accidental death if used improperly. On the bright side, according to specifications, if used properly, they will not cause cancer.

Insecticides are chemical formulations used to eradicate or mitigate infestations of insects including such common household pests as flies,  fleas, ants, spiders,  cockroaches , wasps and more. Insecticides may be applied as a spray as poison bait, as powders or liquids.

Pesticide is a more all inclusive word than insecticide and includes substances meant to kill and eradicate all forms of pests including non-insect pests such as mice , animals , plant pests, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Example of common household pesticides include cockroach sprays and baits, insect repellants for personal use, rodent poisons, flea and tick spray, powders, pet collars, antifungals, even sanitizing chemicals that can be used around the house or around swimming pools and weed killers.

Domestic pesticides are controlled by a number of government regulations, which date back to the 1950s.  In devising these procedures, the government weighed the risk versus the benefits of using the various substances to control infestations. When the benefits of using certain pesticides is great, chemicals with risks are approved for use, and therefore users must handle these products with caution.

A 1954 law called for the determination of permissible concentrations of pesticides in agricultural products and a 1958 law added regulations which apply to any pesticide that leaves traceable residues of chemicals in food. According to this amendment, any substance which is found to induce cancer is automatically banned from the market.

As a result of these regulations, many chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides were withdrawn from use. This led to the introduction of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, many of which are harmful to pets. Owners must therefore be very observant of side effects in pets exposed to pesticide treatment. More recently, some of these harmful compounds have been taken off the market.

While many regulations are in place, common pesticides, as noted above, can have harmful side effects and therefore users should take certain common sense precautions when using them. Homeowners should carefully read the label on any pesticide, before using it, especially if they are to be used in any area where food is consumed or placed. All food surfaces should be thoroughly wiped after use. Fish tanks and bird cages should be covered before spraying with insecticides.  And hands should be thoroughly washed after spraying or using pesticides.

For severe infestations a homeowner is encouraged to consult a licensed pest specialist , who is familiar with the proper use of the more powerful pesticides.

Well that’s it for another episode of Closeup. I’m Boruch Fishman. Have a great day.

How to Select an Over the Counter Pesticide

Baltimore pest control

Spraying peseticide

Hi this is Boruch Fishman and welcome to another episode of “Day in the Life of Dovid Davis Pest Specialist,” we’ve got Dovid on the line, and today we’re going to be asking Dovid about how the householder can evaluate roach sprays and pest sprays that are on the market. We’re going to ask Dovid to tell us what we should look for, and how the sprays work. Specifically,  yesterday I went out and purchased a typical roach spray that you might find on the market, and I am going to ask Dovid about the chemicals in this spray.

Boruch: How you doing Dovid?

Dovid: I’m fine thank-you Boruch.

Boruch: Dovid, the first chemical listed in this roach spray is Propoxur. How good is that chemical?

Dovid: Let’s step away from the brink for a minute. If you’re going to be buying a spray to eradicate pests you’re going to be buying a pesticide or you’re going to be buying an insecticide. So if you’re going to go to the counter and ask someone you don’t want to go to the counter and say “Where’s the stuff for insects?” because that in itself will identify you as not being knowledgeable about the correct terminology.  So the correct terminology you want to buy some insecticide. Well now that means that your target pest you are trying to eradicate is an insect, you use an insecticide,if its a pest, you use a pesticide, if its a rodent you use a rodenticide.

So what I always say to do, is to look at the inert and active ingredients in the product. The inert and active ingredients will tell you what percentage of the product is the active ingredient and which percentage is, in fact,  filler.  Now, there are many, many different pesticides on the market, today, most of which are good, and the percentage of the spray which is active will tell you how thoroughly and how quickly you will have your eradication. Also, you should be sure to read the label on the container because that’s going to give you all the precautions that you must adhere to. That’s for your own personal safety.  Okay, so what’s your first question Boruch.  

Boruch: This particular spray has 1.1 % propoxur. Is that a good chemical and a good concentration?

Dovid: It is an insecticide and it is a good product. Let’s take a look at the whole label. It’s going to give us a list of the active ingredients and the inert ingredients.

Boruch:  .05% is Tetrametrin,  .1% is piperonyl butoxide,  and .320% is MGK 264.

Dovid: So those are the active ingredients. What’s the balance?

Boruch: I guess everything else or approximately 98.43% is filler.

Dovid: More than 98% of what you’ve just bought is filler and less than 2% is active ingredients. Now of the three ingredients you’ve read out, one is a good killing agent, and the other two are flushing agents. If you flush that Propoxur into a particular hole, it’s going to flush out whatever is in there. That’s a very burning irritating insecticide, insects hate it, it usually gets them running.  It gets them out of those nocks and crannies they love to inhabit, and gets them into the area where they can be quickly eradicated with some of the other properties. Now insecticides that you are going to buy will have some level of residual, (meaning, chemicals that adhere to the ground and kill insects that walk on that area even days or weeks later), unless you are buying an aerosol.  If it’s an aerosol, there’s generally no residual to an aerosol because they are generally 99.5% inert gases, just to propel it to come out. But this liquid product has some resilience to it so there will be some residual, it’s a good product.

Boruch: Okay, that’s good to know.