Many families are bugged by pests. Cockroaches, flies, rats, and mice carry disease and can get into food. Roaches and house dust mites can make allergies and asthma worse. Fleas and ticks riding into the home on pets or clothing can carry disease. The bites of rats and certain spiders can make children and others very ill.
Pesticides are things like bug spray, pet flea collars, rat poison, bleach, and garden weed killer that can prevent and kill pests. Pesticides can pose a real danger if you do not use them in the right way. Some may cause poisoning, birth defects, nerve damage, and even cancer. They can make allergies or asthma worse. Breathing fumes or dust from pesticide powders and sprays can be harmful. Touching a floor where pesticide was used can also be dangerous.
Children are especially at risk. When they crawl and play on floors and lawns, they can come into contact with any pesticides used there. Young children put their hands, toys, and other things in their mouths. They may have touched pesticides on the floor or grass. Children may take in more of the small amount of pesticides on foods than adults because they eat more of some foods, like apples or carrots.
The biggest danger is poisoning. Children can accidentally poison themselves if they play with, eat, or drink pesticides that are not stored safely.
Almost one-half of homes with a child under five have pesticides stored within reach of children.
POISONED BY CHEMICALS: Don't let this happen to your child
• A five-year old boy drinks from a bottle of bleach that he found under the bathroom sink.
• A three-year old girl tries to spray her hair the way Mommy does, but sprays an aerosol disinfectant in her eyes instead.
• A baby who has just begun to crawl eats green pebbles from behind the sofa. They look like candy but are really rat poison.
The good news is there are lots of things you can do to protect your family's health and safety. Ask yourself the questions on the following page to see if pesticides may be a threat in your home. Safe pesticide use depends on you!
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