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Farewell To Cockroaches — Controlling Cockroaches the Least Toxic Way

Nobody likes a cockroach … except another cockroach, and another and another. That’s the trouble: our houses and apartments have everything cockroaches need to survive and multiply quickly. Cockroaches are so good at breeding that if one pregnant female gets into your home, she could be the cause of 100,000 new cockroaches within a year under ideal conditions!

Anybody, no matter how neat and clean they keep their home, can have cockroaches. The reason is simple. It’ s very easy for our homes to meet the basic needs of cockroaches for food, water, warmth and dark hiding places to live and breed in.

You should not feel ashamed about getting cockroaches in your home. They can arrive in a grocery bag or a case of beverages you just brought home from the store. Or they may enter your apartment from the one next door to you, since apartment buildings have lots of “highways” for cockroaches to travel on. For example, they may crawl along heating ducts or water pipes. And they can fit into tiny cracks and gaps in floors, walls and doorways.

You can get cockroaches so easily … but getting rid of them can seem so hard. This booklet is about controlling cockroaches in ways that are the least toxic and most effective in the long term.

Protecting Your Health

Health Concerns about Cockroaches

Cockroaches may be able to transmit disease to people. But it’s not known for sure whether they actually do. For example, cockroaches can carry disease-causing bacteria that are the same ones which cause food poisoning. Cockroaches have these bacteria because they eat almost anything they find, such as food that has gone bad. They can also leave bacteria behind as they crawl around your kitchen or bathroom.

If you are allergic to house dust you may also be allergic to cockroaches. Bits and pieces of cockroach bodies, as well as their feces (which look like specks of black pepper) can become part of the dust in your home. Allergic reactions to cockroaches happen more often to people who have asthma. Children’s health especially can be affected as asthma is more common in them than adults.

If you or other family members have allergy symptoms, such as stuffy nose, sneezing, headaches, watery eyes and shortness of breath, and your home also has cockroaches, you may be allergic to cockroaches. About one in 1 0 people is allergic to cockroaches, and about 50 per cent of people with asthma are allergic to cockroaches.

Health Concerns About Pesticides

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill cockroaches and other insects. Some pesticides can be harmful to your health and to the environment, particularly if not used as directed on the label.

One way to try to get rid of cockroaches is to hire a licensed exterminator to spray your house or apartment with a pesticide. However, cockroaches can build up a resistance to a particular chemical over time. More frequent application may be needed to do the job, or a different, more toxic pesticide may be needed to do the job.

Even if one pesticide continues to kill the insects, you may still have a problem. Unless you get rid of the things that cockroaches need to survive, they will keep coming back and you will need to spray again and again.

Using pesticide sprays indoors can be a health risk. The chemicals can remain inside your home for a long time, especially if the windows are closed. Because we spend a lot of time indoors it’s easy to come in contact with these pesticides.

When pesticides are used outside, they break down more easily because sunlight and bacteria in the soil help to turn them into less harmful substances. If pesticide spray drifts over play areas, young children can be exposed to the chemical because they put their hands and their toys into their mouths so often. Children also tend to be more sensitive than adults to the effects of toxic chemicals.

Pesticides are intended to kill pests. They are poisonous and can be harmful to other living things. The immediate health effects on people who are accidentally over-exposed to pesticides may include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • stomach cramps
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • skin and eye irritation

Some pesticides used to control cockroaches, such as diazinon or propoxur, can affect the human nervous system. The effect of exposure to small amounts of pesticide over a longer time, such as several years or a lifetime, is not fully understood. For example, many people are concerned about whether pesticides may help cancer to develop. Pesticides are tested for their cancer-causing ability, but scientists don’t yet have all the answers.

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