I started in the pest control industry in 1972. I was living in Florida and saw an ad in the paper about a company that was hiring. I went to the company, applied and they hired me. Pay was $80 a week. On my first day, the supervisor took me to a house to be sprayed. We used the same sprayers then that they use now. He told me to go in the house and turn right and walk along and spray the baseboard. When I was finished and we left, I asked him why we did that. He told me that we have to kill time in a customer’s house, so they think they are getting their money’s worth. That was true then and it is true now as many companies still spray baseboards. We sprayed with malathion as it smelled terrible and we wanted the customer to know we weren’t spraying water. In those days we sprayed around the outside of a home with diazinon and put down heptachlor granules. We dusted attics with DDT, and we used very toxic rat poisons. We sprayed lawns. with diazinon and walked barefoot so we wouldn’t get our shoes wet. All of the pesticides were “safe” according to the industry. I crawled under houses and sprayed the crawl space with chlordane for termite control. I saw a number of pest control people get sick with cancer in their 40s and 50s. That is when I realized this was all wrong.
What has changed over the years? Most of the pesticides we used then are no longer permitted to be used because they have been determined to kill people. The pesticides we use now haven’t been tested enough but they are used. At some point, they will be pulled as well. Chlorpyrifos was pulled but the Trump EPA allows it to be used again. Roundup is still used even though Bayer has thousands of lawsuits against it for damage Roundup has done to many people.
The people in the business 40 years ago were poorly trained. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed. A person in Santa Fe recently called me and said his exterminator was spraying baseboards and there was a lot of pesticides coming out. When he asked the exterminator about it, he said the nozzle was broken and he would fix it before his next visit. I suggested he cancel the service and he did. In a case in Albuquerque, a company that no longer sprays baseboards came to a fellow’s house. The technician came in and started spraying the baseboards with an aerosol can of bug spray. A little girl sitting on the couch got sick and had to go to the hospital. In Chama, a pest control company was spraying pesticides around a school when a student at a bus stop nearby collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital.
A recent study also shows that children exposed to pesticides are much more likely to develop leukemia or lymphoma than children who are not exposed. Another study says the pregnant women who are exposed to certain pesticides are more likely to have autistic children. Synthetic pyrethroids are the pesticides mostly used in the studies and they are the pesticides most often used by the pest control industry. Pesticides are weapons of mass destruction and have no place in public places or in homes. When used outside, birds may eat poisoned insects and then their health is compromised. We are killing many birds with pesticides.
Nothing has changed very much. Pesticides are poorly regulated in a lot of states including New Mexico. In the real world, you can control pests in your home or business without using toxic pesticides and without wasting money on an exterminator. Sure, there are a few good pest control companies. I know of several in the United States. I can count them on my fingers on one hand. There is also a good company in Belize. There are probably a few other good companies but why take a chance.
If you have to use a company, make sure they use EPA Exempt pesticides. Most companies don’t want to use them because they know that people will realize that they can use them also and they want you to think it is important that they use toxic pesticides. Also, never sign a contract as many of them have clauses in them that prohibits you from filing a lawsuit against them if they do something wrong. They don’t trust themselves.
If you have any pests, I will consult with you and tell you how to control them yourself without exposing your family and pets to toxic pesticides and spending a lot of money. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.