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Seasoning your chili with flea dust? From PCT Magazine, this brief article demonstrates how badly things can go wrong when untrained consumers try do-it-yourself pest control:

California‘s Top Pesticide Blunders

In Butte County, Calif., a man used a salt shaker to apply insecticidal dust on his dog for flea control. Later, he thought the salt shaker contained garlic salt and sprinkled the insecticidal dust on a bowl of chili.

The man realized his mistake because the chili tasted strange and the beans were a gray color. He experienced some stomach discomfort and went to a hospital for treatment.

This incident is one of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) “Top Pesticide Blunders,” which reminds the public to avoid illness and injury by following label instructions and using household cleaning and gardening products that pose the least risk to their health and the environment.

What follows are two Butte County incidents and blunders that were drawn from 2007 illnesses and injuries reported to DPR. State privacy law protects the individuals’ identities.

• In Sacramento County, a teenage girl saw a mouse in her home and used gopher bait to control the problem because she had seen her parents use it effectively against gophers in the yard. She read the label, but did not understand it. She poured a handful of pellets into a corner of two bedrooms and waited in another room. Within two hours, she experienced a sharp pain behind her eyes, and tightness in her chest when she breathed in. She was taken to an emergency room for evaluation.

• In Los Angeles County, an elderly woman spilled insecticidal powder on herself as she tried to open the container to use for roach control in her house. She apparently held the container over her head. She experienced “burning” and was taken to her doctor. See the original article.

Of course, as owner of a Sacramento pest control company, I admit a bias toward using trained professionals for something as dangerous
as handling hazardous chemicals. Improper handling of pesticides is not only potentially harmful to loved ones and pets, it also harms our environment. Recent studies have revealed dangerously high levels of pesticides in our Sacramento-area waterways, believed to come from both agricultural and misuse by well-intentioned residents and business owners (Sacramento Bee article ). A properly trained pest control technician analyzes the pest problem and determines the most effective treatment using the smallest and most precise possible applications of pesticides. Few home or business owners have the training and experience to achieve that result.

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