'Bug Bombs' Report: 466 Cases in Eight States, 2001-06
A new study in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR, Oct. 17) analyzes 466 injuries and illnesses from eight states that were associated with the use of total release foggers, also known as "bug bombs." Most contain the insecticides pyrethroid and/or pyrethrin, along with flammable aerosol propellants. The health problems associated with them had not been described before this study, which involves cases during 2001-06 in California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington that were investigated by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and state health departments participating in the SENSOR-Pesticides program. The median age of victims in these 466 cases was 35 years; 255 (57 percent) were female, and 55 (13 percent) were exposed while at work.
"Illnesses and Injuries Related to Total Release Foggers -- Eight States, 2001-2006" says the illnesses or injuries often resulted from not vacating before the TRF discharged, reentering a treated space too soon, excessive use of TRFs for the space being treated, and failure to notify others nearby. "The findings indicate that TRFs pose a risk for acute, usually temporary health effects among users and bystanders. To reduce the risk for TRF-related health effects, integrated pest management control strategies that prevent pests' access to food, water, and shelter need to be promoted and adopted. In addition, awareness of the hazards and proper use of TRFs need to be better communicated on TRF labels and in public media campaigns," the authors stated.
States in the SENSOR-Pesticides program conduct surveillance on pesticide poisoning, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene collects such data through the New York City Poison Control Center. But no other states or cities conduct pesticide poisoning surveillance, according to the authors, who write that their count of 466 cases probably underestimates the true number of injuries and illnesses. Foggers are registered by EPA for use by homeowners and others.