Aging Well: Effective control of household pests is key to good health

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If you or a family member experiences symptoms of having been poisoned, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. For more information on pesticides, call 703-305-5017 or visit www.epa.gov/pesti...

Did you know eight out of 10 U.S. households use pesticides both indoors and outside their home?

Examples of pesticides in common use include cockroach sprays and baits, termite control products, rat poison, flea and tick sprays and powders, weed killers, bug sprays and kitchen and bath disinfectants.

Hazards of pesticides

Exposure to high levels of pesticides, usually due to improper application of a product, may lead to acute effects such as headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness and nausea. Long-term and/or excessive exposure to some pesticides has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects and effects on the central nervous system.

Preventing exposure

Grandparents can play an important role in keeping children safe from hazardous pesticides by keeping them out of reach.

Emergency room surveys suggest children under age 6 are more likely to be poisoned while visiting grandparents where poisons are more likely to be in reach and without child-resistant closures than when in their own homes. In addition, while older adults account for only 2.8 percent of reported poisoning incidents, they account for 5.9 percent of all cases with a moderate to major medical outcome and 28 percent of deaths.

Tips for pesticide use:

- Read the label. The pesticide label is your best guide for safe and effective use of pesticides. If you have impaired vision, ask for assistance.

- Store pesticides only in their original containers. Never use an empty pesticide container for another purpose.

- Use a community disposal program in your neighborhood. Check with your local solid waste management authority, environmental agency or health department to find out if your community has a hazardous waste disposal program. If not, carefully follow the disposal instructions on the label.

- Never use outdoor pesticides indoors.

- Keep people and pets away from areas where pesticide sprays and foggers are applied. Read label to determine when it is safe for people or pets to re-enter area.

- Avoid spraying where you prepare or store food, and avoid treating entire floors, walls or ceilings.

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