Beware Those Flea Dips and Foggers
If Rover or Cookie the cat have ever infested your home with fleas, you know the challenge of ridding not only the animal, but your rugs and furniture, of these mini pests. For those who have turned to flea dips and foggers - and may have some of last year's supply still on the shelf - take a close look at the labels. You may want to discard them rather than risk potential health consequences.

The pesticide chlorpyrifos - a new generation of bug formula, thought to be safer than previous ones and often used in homes - can cause health problems, particularly in children, according to Paul Lioy, PhD, deputy director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), a joint venture of UMDNJ and Rutgers University. Based on research conducted at the Institute, the manufacturers are withdrawing the chemical from these two products.

The researchers found that pesticide vapors in the air fall back onto toys, furniture and carpets several hours after application. The chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, ingested when children put tainted objects in their mouths or inhaled. Even when windows were opened following use of the pesticide, the research team found significant deposits of particles.

The researchers found that up to 178 micrograms of chemicals per pound of body weight could be absorbed or ingested by a child. Complaints associated with chlorpyrifos exposure include headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching and blurred vision, and last up to one week.

Studies indicate that about 90 percent of households in the US use pesticides. For those who need to use these products indoors, the experts advise putting away toys and other objects frequently handled by children and not taking them out for several days after using the sprays. Washing children's hands with soap and water after playing will eliminate some of the residue. The Environmental Protection Agency is asking manufacturers of this chemical to add a warning label to the packaging.

The research findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives - 1998, Vol 106: 9-16.



Spring - Summer 1998 Table of Contents

HealthState Home