If it creeps and crawls, squeaks or buzzes, chances are good that you don’t want it in or around your home. While going after unwanted insects and rodents with potent pesticides and/or insecticides may seem like the perfect solution, you need to know that the same thing that’s toxic to pests is toxic to people, too, especially children.
According to research carried out at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health by Alex Lu and his associates, children who are exposed insecticides used in their homes are at a 47% greater risk of developing various cancers during their childhood years. Researchers analyzed 16 reputable studies of children’s cancer risks and determined that indoor contact with insecticides was in fact associated with higher rates of lymphoma and leukemia, which are also the most commonly seen types of cancer diagnosed in children. The study also found that exposure to outdoor weed killers (herbicides) was linked to a 26% higher leukemia risk in childhood. Exposure during the childhood years could also be inducing the health issues that occur later in life.
So, what can you do to protect your children?
First, it’s important to know that pesticides only treat the symptom, not the underlying causes and they typically don’t work as well as prevention based options. Following are some tips that can help keep your home free of pests without insecticides.
Make Sure Your House Is Clean and Dry
Most rodents and insects are attracted to moisture, water, and food, so the best place to start is to make your home less inviting to pests by doing the following.
• Wash the dishes on a daily basis.
• Immediately wipe up spills with non-toxic all-purpose cleaner or a bit of dish soap and water.
• Don’t let standing water accumulate.
• Take out the trash every day and clean off any food residue left inside the trash can.
• Keep ripe fruit in your refrigerator and make sure that all food and beverage containers kept outside of the refrigerator are tightly sealed.
• Vacuum and sweep the floors regularly.
Keep All Possible Entryways Sealed
Keep pests out by sealing off any potential entry points. Did you know that the average mouse can manage to squeeze through a hole about the size of a dime? Well, it’s true. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to denying access to pests.
• Position screens in front of cooling and heating vents and repair any holes you find in the screens you already have.
• Use silicone caulking to seal off crevices and cracks in cupboards, ducts, sinks, pipes, baseboards, electrical outlets, moldings, toilets – anywhere pests can gain access to your home.
• Don’t forget to keep stacked firewood, vegetation, and other debris away from the exterior of your home.
Your Pet’s Flea Treatments
Flea and tick treatments are another common origin of indoor pesticide vulnerabilities. Fortunately, preventive measures can help reduce the need for these treatment options including combing and brushing fur, regular baths and vacuuming often to trap the fleas or ticks along with their eggs.
Consider Your Diet
In order to minimize pesticide exposure through the foods your family eats, as often as possible, choose USDA certified organic food options. Also, always wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
Try Natural Treatment Options
If pests still manage to find a way into your home, you should look into natural options. A lot of families have had great success eliminating insects and other pests by using essential oils that include tea tree and herbs and spices like rosemary and cinnamon. There are also “no-kill” traps available for rodent prevention.