Are Household Pesticides Harmful For Your Health?

Household chemicals - Photo by: Dennis van Zuijlekom- Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Household pesticides are chemical substances designed to kill the insects and pests that infest your house. They can be bought in any hardware store or even in supermarkets, and range from insecticides to rodenticides an fungicides. Each one of them has a different purpose (killing insects, rodents, moulds, etc.), but if not used properly, they can be toxic and harmful for your health.

If you want to preserve the health of your family, is always better to seek the help of a professional company such as pest control Williamstown. However, if you’re careful enough, you can still use them safely in your own house.

What Are The Health Dangers Of Household Pesticides?

The degree of danger of using household pesticides is defined as “hazard” and depends on two factors: their inherent toxicity, and the time of exposure to the pesticide. This means that even a relatively non-toxic pesticide can be hazardous (harmful) if one is exposed to it for too long. The inherent toxicity of a chemical substance is defined by its ability to cause illness or injury to humans and animals. It can be kept under control by minimizing the dosage used, or by diluting the substance.

Exposure, on the other hand, depends on the route of absorption of the chemical (dermal, inhalation, ingestion, etc.). It can be severely limited by using adequate protection while using the pesticide, such as by wearing rubber gloves, plastic glasses, a face mask or other types of personal protective equipment (PPE).

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Acute And Chronic Harmful Effects

Depending on the pesticide, hazard may occur immediately or after repeated exposure to the substance. In some instances, both kinds of dangers might coexist.

Acute toxicity is defined as the injury suffered from a single, short-duration exposure, and it’s generally considered the main danger of a pesticide in case of unwanted ingestion, excess inhalation, or eye contact. Those more exposed to acute intoxication are generally children and small animals. Acute toxicity is associated with injury such as chemical burns or skin damage, and may be as serious as to cause death, depending on the substance. In case of acute exposure, you should always seek the help of the nearest emergency department.

Chronic toxicity is more subtle, as it does occur after long-term exposure to the hazardous chemical, even when small, apparently non-harmful doses are administered. For example, toddlers may be exposed over time to small doses of a detergent used to wash a carpet if they often play on it. Chronic effects range from fetal toxicity in pregnant women, disruption of reproductive health, development of tumors and other malignancies, hematologic disorders, and more.

Safety Tips When Using Household Pesticides

Here are some tips to minimize the health risks when using household pesticides:

  • Always wear adequate protection while using the pesticide, such as gloves, masks or glasses.
  • Make sure the windows are open to clear the air when you use any hazardous chemical indoor.
  • Keep them safely stored and away from children and small animals.
  • Only use the amount of pesticides indicated in the label, and keep their use to a minimum. It is not realistic to expect your house to ever be 100% pest-free.
  • Always opt for the least toxic alternatives among the various pesticides.
  • Check what’s the smallest dosage required to achieve your goals, and use the least amount of hazardous chemicals possible.
  • Try to determine the type of pest you want to control before choosing the pesticide, and only employ those designed for that specific pest.
  • Do not mix pesticides with other similar substances, or with any chemical or detergent you have at home. You may cause an unwanted chemical reaction that might prove to be much more dangerous than the pesticide alone.
  • Do not drink or eat anything while using a pesticide, do not smoke, and put away any food or beverage that may be in the same room while you use it.
  • Do not touch your eyes during or after use, and always wash your hands when you’re finished.


Even if household pesticides can be easily purchased, they are still potentially dangerous for your health if used carelessly. Especially if there are children or pets in your house, it’s always better to ask professionals such as ant control Brisbane to keep pests under control.