Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill or harm pests. They include insecticides used for insect control, herbicides used for weed control, fungicides used for fungi and mold control, and rodenticides used for rodent control. Household pests can include insects such as flies, cockroaches, and mosquitoes, or rodents like mice or rats.

Household pesticides can be purchased from supermarkets or hardware stores, and are designed for householders to use around their home or garden. Although you can easily obtain household pesticides, this does not mean that they are harmless. They are toxic and if used carelessly, they may affect the health of the user, their family, pets, or the environment.

Choosing pesticides

Suggestions include:

  • Think about whether your proposed use of pesticide is appropriate. For example, it may not be realistic to expect your property to be completely pest free. It’s possible that the repeated use of pesticides may be more dangerous in the long term than the pests themselves.
  • Consider non-chemical pest control measures.
  • Make sure you identify the pest before you buy a pesticide. What you assume to be rats in your roof could be possums. If you are having trouble identifying the pest, Homecare managers offers an identification service. You can submit an online enquiry. An alternative is to employ a licensed pest control operator trained in the identification and management of pests from HCM.
  • Determine the most effective pesticide for your pest problem and make sure the pesticide you choose is designed for the pest you intend to use it on.
  • Opt for the least toxic (or lowest schedule) household pesticide available.
  • Use the least amount of pesticide possible, as all pesticides are toxic and can cause harm if used incorrectly.

Safety suggestions for indoor use of pesticides

When you use pesticides indoors you should always:

  • Cover or remove bird cages and fish tanks, and relocate other pets before using aerosol (spray) pesticides. Many pesticides are extremely toxic to birds and fish.
  • Remove (or cover) food, cooking utensils and other personal items from the area to be treated. Thoroughly clean kitchen benches before preparing food.
  • Avoid applying surface sprays to areas commonly touched by family members, such as furniture. Only use surface sprays in out-of-the-way areas like along skirting boards.
  • Leave the room while the pesticide (such as fly spray) is taking effect. When you come back, open the windows to clear the air.
  • Make sure pesticides are used in the right place. For example, mice tend to run along skirting boards and under floors. If you put traps or baits out in the open, they may fail to attract the pest and may pose a health risk to family members or pets.
  • Clear up any food debris or scraps if you use baits, so that the pest is drawn only to the bait. This means you will need less bait.

Safety suggestions for outdoor use of pesticides

When you use pesticides outdoors, you should always:

  • Make sure all doors and windows are closed before using the pesticide
  • Avoid using pesticide outdoors on rainy or windy days. The weather can influence the effectiveness of the pesticide and cause damage to other animals, people and the environment
  • Cover fish ponds, barbeques and vegetable gardens before using the pesticide
  • Relocate pets and remove their bedding, food and water bowls
  • Avoid watering your garden after using a pesticide. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for a guide to how long you should wait
  • Observe plants and birds for a few days afterwards to make sure that the pesticide isn’t causing unwanted harm
  • Advise your neighbors if you use any external pesticide treatments
  • If you have a rainwater tank, take care to prevent overspray onto guttering and the roof area. If there is any risk of pesticide residue washing into the tank, you should divert the collection pipe away from the rainwater tank until after the next rainfall.

Acute poisoning from pesticides

Symptoms of acute poisoning from pesticides may begin shortly after exposure and may include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • blurred vision
  • excessive eye watering
  • sweating
  • excess saliva.

More severe poisoning may also lead to changes in heart rate, chest tightness, muscle weakness and twitching, difficulty breathing and walking, constricted pupils, and incontinence. In very severe cases of poisoning, seizures and unconsciousness may occur.

NOTE; Always call for a professional fumigator to avoid all the risks associated with using the pesticide yourself.


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