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ON THE HOUSE

Hottest anti-termite weapon

October 20, 2002|Morris Carey and James Carey Associated Press | Associated Press

Question: We have an upstairs bathroom floor with termites and a history of asthma in the family. A termite inspection has confirmed the need for fumigation, but we are hesitant. We've contacted a pest control company that uses nitrogen to freeze out termites from localized home infestations. What do you think of this method?

Answer: You are among the growing number of homeowners who are seeking less toxic alternatives to the conventional methods of dealing with household pests.

According to Sheila Darr, executive director of the Bio-Integral Resource Center, a nonprofit organization formed in 1978 to provide practical information on least-toxic methods for managing pests, the effectiveness of the liquid nitrogen method is not as well-documented as some of the other alternatives.

Darr said one of the most effective and least-toxic alternatives uses heat. This is a system wherein propane space heaters blow hot air through ducts into a tented structure, raising the temperature enough to kill the termites.

In addition, the heat is not supposed to harm the structure or its contents. It might, however, be a good idea to remove any valuables and electronic equipment susceptible to damage by heat. Technicians also warn that candles or thin sheets of plastic should be removed.

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