Homeowner’s Guide to Safer Termite Control

Options for less-toxic fumigation

| May/June 2007

Traditional termite pesticides and fumigation methods can be highly toxic—and chemical residue frequently remains long after the application, despite manufacturer claims that it dissipates.

Fortunately, there are safer options. The method you choose will depend upon the type of termite, how widespread the infestation is and what companies are available in your area. A few options are:

1. Heat: The exterminator tents your house and heats it to high temperatures to kill the pests. (Note: Heat may cause house materials to release toxic vapors or cause wood to expand or contract. A pest-control operator experienced with using heat can advise.)

2. Borates: For existing construction, the provider injects a borate foam mixture into the walls that settles on the wood and repels termites. For new construction, the provider can easily apply borates to wood.

3. Electrocution and microwaves: These are safer spot treatments that may  be used in some circumstances.

4. Liquid nitrogen: Some companies  use this nontoxic technology to freeze out termites. 

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