Are the insecticides used for fogging safe?

The USEPA reviews and approves insecticides (and other pesticides) and their labeling to ensure those used to protect public health are applied by methods that minimize the risk of human exposure and adverse health and environmental effects. Generally, there is no need to relocate during mosquito control fogging. The insecticides have been evaluated for this use and have been found to pose minimal risk to human health and the environment when used according to label directions. For example, USEPA has estimated the exposure and risks to both adults and children posed by ULV aerial and ground applications of the insecticides malathion and naled. For all the scenarios considered, exposures ranged from 100 to 10,000 times below the amount of pesticide that might pose a health concern. These estimates assumed several spraying events over a period of weeks and also assumed that a toddler would ingest some soil and grass in addition to dermal exposure. Other mosquito control insecticides pose similarly low risks. Nevertheless, because insecticides are inherently toxic, no pesticide is absolutely risk free. The likelihood of experiencing adverse health effects as a result of exposure to any pesticide depends primarily on the amount of pesticide that a person contacts and the amount of time the person is in contact with that pesticide. In addition, a person's age, sex, genetic makeup, lifestyle and/or general health characteristics can affect his or her likelihood of experiencing adverse health effects as a result of exposure to insecticides. Although mosquito control insecticides pose low risks, some people may prefer to minimize or to avoid exposure to these chemicals. Here are some common sense steps to help reduce possible exposure to insecticides:

Listen and watch for announcements in the local media about fogging for mosquitoes and remain indoors during the application in your neighborhood.

If possible, remain inside whenever fogging takes place.

People who suffer from chemical sensitivities or feel fogging could aggravate a preexisting health condition should consult their doctor or local health department and take special measures to avoid exposure.

Close windows and doors and turn off your air conditioning (or set it to circulate indoor air) when fogging is taking place in the immediate area.

Do not let children play near or behind truck-mounted applicators when they are in use. To ensure the fogging trucks have left the area, keep children inside during fogging and for about one hour after fogging.

Bring pets inside and cover ornamental fish ponds to avoid direct exposure.

Consult your doctor if you think you are experiencing health effects from the fogging.

More information about spraying for adult mosquitoes may be found on the USEPA's Web site: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/index.htm

Show All Answers

1. How are adult mosquitoes controlled?
2. What agency conducts mosquito control in my town?
3. Why is the local government fogging for mosquitoes in my community?
4. Why do they fog mosquitoes when I am out taking my evening walk?
5. Will local officials notify me before fogging?
6. What insecticides are used to fog for mosquitoes?
7. How long does the fog kill mosquitoes?
8. If the city has been fogged for mosquitoes, are all mosquitoes in my area eliminated?
9. Are the insecticides used for fogging safe?
10. Do I need to wash home-grown fruits and vegetables after the mosquito fogging?
11. What should I do if I have medical questions about insecticides?
12. Will the fogging kill birds or other large animals?
13. Are individuals who do mosquito control required to be licensed?
14. Can I fog my backyard for mosquitoes?
15. Can I treat a depression that floods in my backyard for mosquitoes?
16. Can communities use other methods to control mosquitoes besides fogging?
17. Where can I get more information on West Nile virus?