Options for less-toxic fumigation
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.
Finding less-toxic termite control
• Check manufacturer websites to find a company that offers safer solutions in your area.
• Beware “bait and switch.” Some pest-control companies offer a nontoxic alternative, but then discourage it, using cost and effectiveness as an excuse.
• Confirm that the proposed solution really is safer by checking the termite how-to guide at www.SaferBuilding.com.
Reprinted from SaferBuilding.com, an independent company that conducts research and field tests on nontoxic building materials and methods. For how-to guides or other information on topics such as painting, plumbing, flooring, carpet or carpentry, visit
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