I have referred to the Pesticide Precautionary Principle (PPP) several times. Here is some information on how it is used.
The Pesticide Precautionary Principle simply means that any pesticides used for any purpose have to be proven safe for people and the environment. There are three sections of the PPP that are important.
First, before any insecticides or herbicides are used, the target pest needs to be positively identified, including the pest’s scientific name. It needs to be demonstrated why this is a pest and why it needs to be controlled. Does it carry diseases? If so, which ones. Is it otherwise dangerous? Is it just unsightly? If the applicators can’t positively identify the insect pests or the weeds they want to control, they should not be using pesticides.
Second, once the pest has been positively identified and why it is a problem, then all possible methods of control should be studied and the least toxic one should be utilized. How is it beneficial to society to use toxic herbicides to control a weed that is simply unsightly? Can the weeds be manually removed? Can insect pests be excluded from a building without pesticide applications? If a pesticide is supposedly needed, we go to the third section.
Third, any pesticide (insecticide, herbicide) that they want to use has to be proven safe. The applicators need to provide documentation that the pesticide is safe for people and the ecosystem. Documentation does not mean a statement from the distributor, the manufacturer or even the EPA. It means a scientific, peer-reviewed document that has studied the pesticide. In reality, you can Google almost any pesticide and find this kind of documentation. The problem they may have is that there is virtually no documentation proving that any pesticide is safe for humans exposed to it or to the environment. If the applicators can’t produce scientific documentation that their pesticide is safe, then they should not be permitted to use it anywhere on public or commercial property or in public or commercial buildings. There are EPA Exempt pesticides available that they can use and these pesticides are safe.
Pesticides should only be applied in or around the outside of a building when a pest is present and should not be applied on a regular or “calendar” basis unless it is to treat an infestation and is part of a pest management system being implemented to address a particular target pest. A pest is considered to be present when it is observed directly or can reasonably be expected to be present based on evidence such as droppings, body parts, or damage that is typically done by the pest.
If a company comes out on a calendar basis, they should inspect the facility and look for evidence of a pest infestation or conditions conducive to one. Spraying pesticides to prevent pests is not a viable method of pest management. It has little effect on most pests and can have serious effects on people.
Basically, they need to give you documentation identifying the pests, listing all viable options for control and data showing their methods and what they are using is positively safe.
Exceptions. There can be exceptions in the case of an emergency when, for instance, a large swarm of yellowjackets invade an occupied building. In this case, toxic pesticides may be used because of the danger potential. This is very rare and situations like this may never happen in most areas.
This Pesticide Precautionary Principle should be adopted by all city, county and state agencies that apply pesticides. Business owners should also require this from any exterminators they may use in their businesses where people may unknowingly be exposed to whatever pesticide is used. And it would be a good idea for homeowner to require use of PPP. In many cases, homeowners and business owners can do their own pest management without using any toxic pesticides. I will help anyone who wants to do their own pest control. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join my Bug Club on this website.