Briefly, Why is Conventional Pesticide Use Harmful?
Globally, 972 people die each day of unintentional pesticide exposure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Conventional, synthetic pesticides are indiscriminate killers affecting not only insects, but also “non-target organisms” – humans and every living creature.2 In adequate doses, pesticides can cause immediate death in humans, though most pesticide exposure results in short and sometimes long-term health consequences.3 Pesticide exposure has been linked to short term symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, muscle twitching, nerve, skin, and eye irritation, and more.4
Serious long term impact includes development of asthma, neurological damage, increased risk of birth defects, Alzheimer’s 5 and Parkinson’s disease 6, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and cancer.7 Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides – a 2002 study links exposure to household pesticides to an elevated risk of childhood leukemia.8 In addition – exposure to pesticides has also been tied to autism, behavior/mood disorders, ADD/ADHD and other learning difficulties in children.9 To learn more about pesticides read: How to Remove Pesticides from Your Home in 8 Simple Steps.
And Actually, Pesticides Don’t Always Work
Pesticides are a big business, pulling in $50 billion annually, according to the Freedonia Group.10 But the truth is, insects can produce an immunological response to the pesticides in their environment in a short time (unlike humans). So using conventional pesticides one time may not be enough to keep pests from returning. Instead, you’ll have to keep applying and even switching pesticides to treat new, stronger generations of pests. In the process, you will end up exposing yourself to serious doses of harmful chemicals – truly, poisons.
What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Instead of potentially poisoning yourself, family, and neighbors, look to integrated pest management (IPM). Integrated pest management is a commonsense, tailored approach to pest management designed to treat and prevent pests in your home, yard, school, or workplace. IPM is a proactive method of learning the particular causes of pests in a location and removing the habitats that encourage them to enter and breed in your building or property. This method is human safe, environmentally sensitive, and is often the most economical method for the treating pests. By employing IMP strategies you will:
- take a preventative, logical approach to pest management
- reduce a pest’s access to food, water, and shelter
- disrupt the breeding cycle and prevent the pest population from growing
- negate the need for harmful pesticide use
What Can You Safely Do About Pests?
Start Using Integrated Pest Management Today
The most important thing to know about pests is that they come from the outside into your home. To prevent this from happening or to get rid of existing pests, you need to stop inviting them inside. You can do this by addressing simple sanitation issues, sealing up entrances, and removing outdoor pest habitats. The following integrated pest management steps will help you prevent and remove pests right away, without needing to call an exterminator! IPM is so safe, you can even enlist help from kids, roommates, or even your family dog (an expert kitchen floor cleaner).
Integrated Pest Management Inside Your Home
- educate everyone in the house about the IPM procedures so they’re all on board for the new program
- reduce clutter and places where insects can hide
- keep trash in a covered trash can and take out the trash often
- trap and remove pests using nontoxic traps
- organize your pantry and keep dry food in well-sealed containers
- keep pantry and cupboard shelves wiped clean
- clean stove, oven, sink, and floor regularly
- clean your garbage disposal often
- wash and dry dishes and put on shelves soon
- don’t leave sitting water in the sink or in dishes
- wipe counters of crumbs and sticky substances
- keep pet food and treats in well-sealed containers
- clean up around your pet’s food bowl
- keep bathroom floors and toilets clean
- vacuum floors to remove dust mites and ants
- wash laundry piles to avoid lice and flea infestations
- when you see a pest, try mechanical methods of removal (ex. fly swatter)
Integrated Pest Management Outside Your Home
- seal cracks and other areas where pests can enter your house
- weatherize windows and doors
- keep outdoor trash in a well-sealed container
- trim overgrown bushes, trees, and plants (especially near the house)
- remove any standing water in the yard (ideal mosquito breeding areas)
- keep grass short using a sharp lawn mower blade
- add door sweeps to the bottom of exterior doors
Integrated Pest Management – When to Use a Nontoxic Pesticide
For pest infestations, like ants, roaches, mosquitoes, or other small pests, look for nontoxic pesticide options, like those listed below.
- Body Repellent – Branch Basics Bug Spray
- 7 Ways to Get Rid of Ants Naturally, by Mommypotamus
- Pest Control for Your Organic Garden, by Wellness Mama
- 3 Ways to Prevent Pests Without Using Pesticides, by MindBodyGreen (helpful tips about using the food chain and employing animals that eat other pests)
- 12 Natural Remedies for Household Pests, by Hello Natural
Is Integrated Pest Management More Expensive Than Conventional Pesticides?
According to the EPA, integrated pest management can actually be cost-saving. While IPM may require more labor and time – and sometimes more up-front resources – costs associated with integrated pest management are “generally lower over time because the underlying cause of the pest problem has been addressed”.11 As a bonus, certain IPM practices will provide long-term financial benefits unrelated to your pest problem. An example of this would be weatherizing buildings (particularly entrances), which keeps out insects and saves energy costs. Overtime, this measure will also reduce moisture issues, which can be a costly problem for a building.
Have you thought about the pesticides used at your child’s school? Talk to your school about the 2 Things That Will Dramatically Improve School Air Quality (& Your Child’s Health).
In our last newsletter we looked at how important it is to Choose Nontoxic School Supplies. Do you know the difference between hand soap and hand sanitizer? Don’t send your kid to school with an Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer!
Can you think of all the pesticides in your home? You may be surprised at how many you will find. Learn how to remove all toxic pesticides from your home in 8 Simple Steps. If you’re thinking about helping your schools eliminate harmful pesticide use, try out the Integrated Pest Management principles at home. We’ll show you how!
If you’re sending a college student off this fall, don’t let them leave for school without reading tips from our college student interns: 6 Tips for Cleaner College Living – Advice from Our Interns