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What Are the Dangers of Termite Control?

The dangers of termite control agents--most often used in the form of baits or liquid sprays--are similar to the dangers inherent in the use of insecticides in general. Under federal law, it is illegal to state that the use of any pesticide is safe. While many of the most harmful termite control agents have been removed from the market, consumers should be aware that any treatment designed to kill or remove termites could have a negative impact on the health of other living creatures as well. The following dangers, while relatively rare, should be considered.

Danger to the Environment

Pesticides that are sprayed around a structure or placed into baits near it contain chemicals that can pollute the surrounding soil, water and air 1. Termite control chemicals can also harm or kill birds or other wildlife that the homeowner may not consider “pests.” Contaminated environments can lead to many health issues, particularly in humans who are chemically sensitive or whose immune systems are compromised. Just some of the side effects documented by humans who have been exposed to termite control agents in their environment include headaches, neuropathy, asthma and allergies.

Danger to Pets and Small Children

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The dangers of termite control are higher for household pets and small children. Dogs and cats are more likely to accidentally ingest baits or other compounds used in the pesticides 1. Small children have faster metabolic rates and thinner skin, making them more susceptible to toxins in the environment. Additionally, both pets and small children spend more time near or on the floor than adults do. Pesticides are often tracked through a house or yard and found in higher concentrations on the floor and ground 1.

Danger to Adults

The dangers that termite control agents pose for adults primarily center on absorption of the insecticide through skin or by inhaling. Prolonged exposure has been correlated to an increase in pancreatic and liver problems, the development of certain types of cancers, including leukemia, and an increase in spontaneous abortions and stillbirths as well as other fertility issues such as decreased sperm count.