Chemicals in insecticides and bug spray
We’ve all heard the backlash towards the use of insecticides in recent years. People have been calling for a change agricultural practices to limit their consumption of these potentially dangerous chemicals. Due to this, in part, the use of pyrethroids has increased. Pyrethroids are believed to be a safer alternative by some, because they are produced from natural chemicals. However, pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals, and still pose a threat towards the human body. Pyrethroids are found in many of the insecticide products used within the home and bug repellents that you give your family. Most disturbing about the use of these chemicals is the effect they can have on children. Pyrethroids have also been tied to poor brain development, and they may also increase the likelihood of behavior problems.
How Do You Know If You’re Using Pyrethroids?
Pyrethroids are found in many of the bug sprays sold across the country, and unfortunately if you’ve ever given your family bug spray, chances are you’ve probably covered them in some form of pyrethroids. One easy way to determine whether bug sprays have pyrethroids is by looking at the label. Ingredients that end with “thrin” are pyrethroids. Some common forms are cypermethrin, pifenthrin, and permethrin. Most people have encountered these chemicals through bug spray, the foods they eat, or insecticides used within the home. There are over 2 million pounds of permethrin used throughout the country each year. About 30 percent is used in agriculture, while 40 percent is used by people within their own homes. This is a large number of people distributing it – probably unknowingly – throughout their homes, but finding an alternative for home use can greatly reduce human interaction with pyrethroids.
So Why Are Pyrethroids So Bad?
First of all, using pyrethroids around the home can be especially harmful to pets. They are toxic to cats in particular, and cats are usually poisoned when their owners apply tick or flea medicines designed for dogs. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also weighed in on pyrethroids, and they have stated that these chemicals can cause cancer. They disrupt the endocrine system and mimic estrogen. This increases the chances of developing breast cancer, and pyrethroids have also been linked to pulmonary tumors. They may also lead to abnormalities within the chromosomes and immune dysfunction. The use of permethrin in agriculture is also troubling, because it can leech into the water and cause harm to aquatic life.
Research has shown that the public should be very concerted about children being introduced to pyrethroids. Pyrethroids cause harm to the brain and nervous system, and they can lead to lower test scores and scholastic performance. Children exposed to pyrethroids also tend to have behavior problems. One study conducted in Canada took a look at nearly 800 children between the ages of six and eleven. The amount of children with pyrethroids in their body was 97 percent and 91 percent had levels of organophosphates. Those with the highest levels of pyrethroids were more likely to experience behavior problems. Children with ten times the levels of pyrethroids of other children were two times as likely to have behavior problems. Unfortunately, pyrethroids affect other parts of the body as well, and even low levels have been linked to problems within the liver, thyroid, and reproductive system.
There are a number of ways to avoid using products that contain pyrethroids. For those looking to fight pests within the home, like cockroaches, ants, lice, or termites you can use a few different things around the house. To protect pets, garlic and cedar oil can repel insects, and providing them with a healthy diet can also limit parasites. When trying to get rid of lice, an old fashioned nit comb generally works just fine. For cockroaches or ants sprinkling boric acid powder in the corner of cabinets is a great way to get rid of them. Boric acid powder is non toxic, but deadly to insects. The pests will get the powder on their legs and transport it back to the nest where it will kill the remainder of the pests.
When dealing outside the home, it is absolutely essential to remove any standing water. Mosquitoes spawn in water, and giving water time to sit and settle will almost inevitably host mosquitoes. Standing water can be found in gutters, bird baths, trash cans, or water bowls, so everybody should take a look around the house and remove or frequently empty these items. Planting marigolds around the yard can also be helpful. The smell of these flowers repels bugs, so putting marigolds around an outdoor sitting area can help to guard against pests. When sitting outside, setting up a simple house fan can also help to blow away bugs. Keeping a habitat for bats is also a great way to limit mosquitoes. Understandably, this isn’t for everybody, but setting up bat boxes can go a long way.
There are also steps that can be taken to limit the amount of bug sprays and other products containing pyrethroids that is used. Instead of using bug repellants with chemicals, there are chemical free bug repellents, like Badger Anti-Bug Spray. Mosquitoes can also be fought using products found throughout the house. Applying liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil or just plain cinnamon leaf oil can both help to repel mosquitoes. Cinnamon leaf oil is also believed to be more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET, which is a chemical that is commonly found in bug repellents. Using catnip oil may also be helpful. During the summer months bathing with a citronella soap can also help to keep bugs away, and some nutritionists also suggest supplementing with Vitamin B1 from spring to fall.
Chemicals are used in many aspects of your day to day life, and completely cutting of your interaction with them just isn’t feasible. However, what is possible is limiting you and your family’s interaction with household insecticides. There are many ways to naturally fight insects and mosquitoes. Your property can be set up to hinder their ability to thrive, and you can even create homemade insect repellants. With the dangers presented by these chemicals, it is important to reduce your household’s use of pyrethroids and organosphosphates.