Exposure to pesticides is dangerous to children and pets

Smaller body size and tendency to put objects in their mouths make children and pets especially vulnerable.

On Nov. 26, 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory regarding the misuse of pesticides. Specifically, they stated that there is an alarming increase in the use of outdoor pesticides, indoors by people who are trying to eliminate infestations of bed bugs and other insects. Using pesticides improperly, i.e., using pesticides meant for the outdoors, indoors or improperly applying pesticides can cause illness and even death. It is extremely important that people follow the instructions on the label in order to avoid dire consequences.

Exposure to pesticides, even if they have been applied properly, can lead to illness in children and pets. If a home has had a pesticide treatment, children should not be allowed to reoccupy the home while surfaces are still wet because the chance of them ingesting the pesticide or getting it on their skin is too great. Children may put objects in their mouths or they may touch the surfaces and then put their hands in their mouths or touch their faces. Furthermore, children are more vulnerable to inhaling pesticide residues or dusts because they “breathe a greater volume of air per body weight than adults.”

Pesticides may have the same effects on animals as they have on people. Because of their smaller body size, the health effects may show up earlier in pets and act as a warning sign that pesticides may have been misused or over-applied.

If you or a family member becomes ill from pesticide exposure, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. You may also contact your local hospital emergency room or the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.

If your pet has become ill from pesticide exposure, contact your local veterinarian or call the National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

Michigan State University Extension has partnered with the Michigan Department of Community Health to address the bed bug issue. For information on how to prevent or treat bed bug infestations, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website, www.michigan.gov/bedbugs.

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