Danger of Termidor to Humans

If the thought of an army of termites invading your home makes you squirm, the sight of them crawling across your floors will probably send you running to the phone to contact an exterminator. When you do find a pest control specialist, there's a good chance that she will treat your home with Termidor.

Termidor can be applied using a sprayer or by pouring it in a trench dug around your home's foundation.

How Termidor Works

Termidor is used to control subterranean termites. These termites live in nests or colonies in the soil. It's also approved for use against certain kinds of ants, including carpenter ants and black ants.

Termidor can only be used by licensed pest control professionals who have passed a certification exam.

Insects that ingest Termidor will die, but that's not the only way the chemical works to get rid of the six-legged pests--when they come into contact with treated areas, they carry the chemical on their bodies and transfer it to every other insect they come into contact with. Once that happens, the insects will be completely gone in about three months, according to TermidorHome.com.

There's another way that Termidor helps keep your home pest free. Once the chemical is applied to your home, it forms a barrier that keeps insects away for several years.

Signs and Symptoms of Termidor Exposure

While Termidor kills termites and other pests, it can also be harmful to humans. The main ingredient is fipronil, a chemical that can have a number of effects on the body.

There are a number of ways to come into contact with fipronil, depending on how Termidor was applied. You may breathe it in, you may touch something just sprayed with fipronil and get it on your skin, you may rub your eyes after coming into contact with it or you may accidentally ingest it.

How it affects you depends on how you came into contact with it and how long you were exposed to it.

You may experience skin irritation, or if you actually ingested fipronil, you may experience sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness or seizures.

If you are only briefly exposed to it, any symptoms will most likely go away without treatment.

However, the company that manufactures Termidor, BASF, warns that swallowing the chemical can be dangerous if it stays in the body for a long time.

Other Possible Effects on the Body

So far, studies have not found any link between exposure to fipronil and the risk of developing cancer in humans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, does consider fipronil a "possible human carcinogen."

Studies have shown that thyroid tumours did develop in rats who were fed fipronil over an extended period of time, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

In other studies, rats fed fipronil suffered a greater number of seizures than rats who didn't ingest the chemical, and fipronil was also associated with decreased thyroid function in rats.

What to Do in Case of Exposure

If you come into contact with Termidor, there are a number of first aid measures you can take, according to BASF's Safety Data Sheet.

Take off all clothing that came into contact with the chemical.

If it gets on your skin, wash with plenty of soap and water. If you start to experience skin irritation, seek medical attention.

If you inhale it, get to a place where there's fresh air and stay calm.

If there has been exposure to your eyes, rinse your eyes under running water for at least 15 minutes while keeping them open, and then seek out an eye specialist for attention.

Accidentally swallowing Termidor requires immediate action. Rinse out your mouth, drink lots of water and seek medical attention.

Protecting Yourself From Harm

While only licensed pest control professionals who are certified to use Termidor can apply it, there are general safety precautions you can take after your home has been treated.

As with any chemicals, stay away from the treated areas until you're advised by your pest control specialist that it's safe to touch treated surfaces. Keep a close eye on children and pets who may be playing near the treated areas.