The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that EPA label restrictions on total release foggers, otherwise known as “bug bombs,” are a public health failure. Bug bombs pose a significant risk of acute illness to individuals even when they attempt to follow new label instructions. Beyond Pesticides has long called for bug bombs to be banned, as there are a myriad of non-toxic alternative strategies to successfully manage household pests.
Bug bombs are small cans primarily comprised of an insecticide, often a synthetic pyrethroid, a synergist such as piperonyl butoxide (PBO), and an aerosol propellant. In addition to the explosion/fire risk if the aerosol product is used in an unattended home near a pilot light or other spark-producing appliance, both synthetic pyrethroids and PBO pose acute and chronic human health risks. PBO is added to pesticide formulations to increase the toxicity of synthetic pyrethroids, and has been linked to childhood cough. Peer-reviewed research associates synthetic pyrethroids with behavioral disorders, ADHD, and delayed cognitive and motor development, and premature puberty in boys. Not only can bug bombs acutely poison, but once applied these chemicals can persist in the home for over a year, putting individuals and families at risk of chronic exposure and subsequent health issues.