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.