Bug bombs, or total room defoggers, are widely available products marketed for do-it-yourself extermination of problem insects, like cockroaches and bedbugs. A recent issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests that many people fail to follow the directions on bug bomb products, sometimes resulting in serious illness or even death.
In 2003, a California family desperate to rid their 470-square-foot home of cockroaches set off a total of 19 bug bombs in their house. After setting off the defoggers, the couple and their young child stood in the backyard and watched their house blow up. This isn't the only such case, either.
Most people don't destroy their houses using bug bombs, but quite a few end up in the hospital. In a five year study of just eight states (Florida, California, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington), 466 people sustained injuries or illnesses while using bug bombs. One infant died while sleeping in a home that had been treated with a defogger earlier in the day.
If you've got a pest problem and are thinking of using a bug bomb product, do the right thing. Read the label, and follow the directions. Turn off any gas, such as for your stove. Get out of the house, and stay out. Only use the prescribed number of defoggers for your square footage. If you're in an apartment, duplex, or townhouse, notify your neighbors - shared vents can allow the pesticide to travel into other units.
Better yet, ask our new Guide to Pest Control, Roger Harris, for advice on the safest way to get rid of the offending pest.