Insecticide sprays for household use are common in our part of the world, especially because we all want mosquitoes gone knowing their irreplaceable role in the spread of malaria.
How safe are these insecticide sprays?
The different chemicals (pharmaceutical compounds) employed in insecticide sprays belong to a class of drugs called organophosphates. Although those for household use are primarily targeted at mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, and other insects, they could have a detrimental effect on your body and health.
Humans can easily be poisoned by these sprays as the body absorb these chemicals very easily via different routes such as the bronchi (lungs), intact skin, as well as gastrointestinal tracts, and excrete or get rid of them rather slowly (children are at a higher risk as they absorb relatively more with respect to surface area). These chemicals have long lasting residual action and when sprayed on surfaces in the home, remain active for some days. Thus, exposure to these harmful chemicals can last longer than a few hours to days – on your bed, dinning table, kitchen utensils and co. Children are more exposed as they can in the course of play place pesticide-covered fingers in the mouth and get these chemicals into their system. These chemicals prevent blood flow to the brain, cause neurotoxicity and brain damage.
Our bodies absorb these chemicals very easily but excrete or get rid of them rather slowly.
Though, diluted in household sprays to make it tolerable for humans, we sometimes get reactions (like sneezing, itchy eyes and nostrils, among others) from insecticide use.
Children absorb relatively more with respect to surface area.
It is therefore important to note the following when choosing to use insecticide sprays:
- Keep out of reach of children
- When in use, hold spray vertically, away from your face
- Do not spray on people, domestic pets, food, water, or food utensils (even if you saw insect on them – rather wash them with soap and water)
- Doors and windows should be kept shut with you outside for at least 15 mins after spraying an insecticide. When you get back inside, open the windows and doors to ensure proper ventilation in the room (it’s safer to wait a while outside the room, even after ensuring proper ventilation, to reduce your exposure).
- Keep spray away from open flames, ignitions, sparks, or smoke (including lit cigarettes)
FIRST AID: In case of contact with skin, eyes, or mucous membranes, rinse continuously with plenty of water
- If swallowed or inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention.
- In seeking medical attention, it is important to go with the spray container (aerosol) to enable the medical practitioner identify the particular compound involved and provide prompt care.