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Most synthetic pest control products rely on harmful toxins to get the job done. This makes sense when you consider that pesticides are intentionally released into the environment to destroy living things, such as insects, rodents and weeds. Many of these potentially hazardous products are specifically designed for home use, and this is concerning because the toxic chemicals that are commonly found in pesticides have been linked to a number of human health consequences. These range from short-term issues like headaches and nausea, to serious and chronic conditions like cancer, endocrine system disruption and reproductive harms.

Before purchasing a pesticide to use in your home, consider that it may be possible to control household pests without resorting to the use of toxic chemicals. Here are some ways to safely deal with an unwelcome infestation:

  • Store food in tightly sealed glass or plastic containers.
  • Keep food scraps in a tightly covered trashcan outside your home.
  • Eliminate clutter, such as stacks of newspaper and cardboard boxes, which provide convenient places for pests to hide and breed.
  • Repair plumbing leaks promptly and remove any sources of standing water, such as plant trays and pet dishes, from your home.
  • Caulk any cracks and crevices around cabinets and baseboards.

If these pest-prevention strategies prove to be ineffective and you choose to use a commercial pesticide, be sure to do so safely. Here’s how:

  • Choose a ready-to-use product that is specifically approved for home use.
  • Read the label thoroughly and follow the directions and safety warnings to the letter.
  • Do not exceed the recommended application amount (more is not necessarily better).
  • Take all recommended precautions, such as wearing a mask and gloves, when handling these products.
  • Apply the product sparingly to targeted areas only, as opposed to spraying around your entire house.
  • Keep children and pets away from treated areas.
  • Dispose of unused pesticides and containers properly.

When handled correctly and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, home pesticide products are generally safe. Most often, any associated problems are the result of individuals failing to educate themselves about the proper use of these powerful products. Always proceed with caution, and remember: when handled in a careless manner, pesticides can endanger the health of humans, pets and the environment.

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