Bug Bomb Fail


Bug Bomb aerosol can be explosive.
Image: Mythbusters

Fires started by bug bombs are often due in part to the failure to read the instructions. Jay Dunn of the Salinas Californian reports on a fire in June of 2015 that damaged an apartment but was contained by firefighters to the treated unit. The residents of the apartment on a “do it yourself” pest control mission…

…had read the bug bomb instructions, and followed proper precautions by extinguishing burner pilot lights and other possible sources of ignition. They did not know, apparently, about the pilot light in the oven.

Oops.  Bug Bombs (or Total Release Foggers) are easy to deploy, but compliance with the instructions is difficult. The residents failed to comply with directions, not because they did not read or understand the directions, but because they overlooked a feature of their oven. Totally understandable.  Bug Bombs are potentially hazardous even when people attempt to follow the complicated process. After turning off all pilot lights, the instructions are to leave the building until fumigation is complete. A flammable vapor. No one there to monitor. What could go wrong?

A volatile pesticide. A multiunit apartment building. Evacuate the unit. What about the residents of neighboring units? Do they need to leave? Are they alerted? Often apartments do not have completely separate ventilation systems. Units may not be sealed allowing vapors to move from one unit to the other. Use of bug bombs in apartments should require the consent of the landlord and other tenants.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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