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Flea-Killing Sprays and Their Toxic Properties

August 20, 1989

Toxic chemicals are sprayed into thousands of Southern California homes each year by commercial pest control companies to kill fleas. These toxins can also cause poisoning of dogs and even illness in children and adults.

The pest control companies generally advise the homeowner to vacate the house for four hours after the spraying and thoroughly ventilate it after re-entering.

Dursban is one of the most widely used chemicals for flea control. On the label of the product, the chemical company that manufactures the product states: "Do not permit humans or pets to contact treated surfaces until the spray has dried. Old pet bedding should be replaced with clean, fresh bedding after treatment."

The homeowner never sees this information, and four hours is not always a sufficient amount of time for the surfaces sprayed to have dried completely or safely.

This is particularly true in the case of dog beds, whose padding can be saturated with the chemicals. Many companies spray the dog beds but do not advise the pet owner to provide clean, fresh bedding after the spraying. If the bed or any other surface is still damp with the spray, a pet, a child or even an adult can come into contact with an active toxic chemical.

If the chemical company feels that the danger is sufficient to issue express warning, shouldn't this caution be relayed to the public when its members are at risk?

Presently, there is no state law nor any regulation of the pest control companies requiring them to give the proper instructions to the public. One is desperately needed.

J. C. DALTON

Newport Beach

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