Total Release Foggers (EPA speak for Bug Bombs) are aerosol containers designed to control insects by fumigating interior rooms. The bug bombs typically contain a liquid that produces the aerosol droplets and pyrethrin or pyrethroid insecticides. In many instances, these devices deliver sub-optimal pest control results, but are popular because of their ease of use. The coverage for a device is stated clearly on the label. However, in some cases too many devices are used for the area treated. This may be due to failure to read the label, failure to properly measure or estimate the space or a misguided belief that “More must be better”.
Recently in Seelyville Indiana, a dozen people suffered from overexposure to bug bomb aerosols when a resident set off several bug bombs in a multi-apartment house without informing the neighbors. The adverse medical effects were temporary, but some people were affected severely enough to require ambulance transport to a local hospital. How common are similar incidents? The Center for Disease Control identified 466 cases of acute, pesticide-related illness or injury associated with exposure to TRFs during 2001–2006.
The aerosol from the foggers can travel outside the immediate area of a resident’s room into other parts of a house. This is problematic because the label clearly indicates that the structure should be evacuated during fumigation and all flames turned off. In some cases, bug bombs have caused fires or even explosions. When the fumigation is complete, the air inside the structure should be exchanged with outside air. For these reasons, Total Release Foggers are not appropriate for many dwellings with multiple units under a single roof.