Go to Cole Home Maintenance home page

Go to insect index


Bed Bug Bombs are Dangerous

Copyright 2013 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.).

Cole Home Maintenance is an exterminator Located in Palatine and serving towns in
Lake County, Cook County, Mc Henry County, Du Page County, Kane County
630-306-7925
$60.00 to spray up to a 2 bedroom apt for bed bugs




Bug bombs are also called "foggers".   Homeowners try to eliminate bugs such as cockroaches, bed bugs and fleas in their home themselves instead of hiring a pest control professional.   These bug bombs, also called "total release foggers" (TRFs) are spray cans that usually contain pyrethroid, pyrethrin or both as the active ingredients.  The homeowner lights and/or activates the bug bomb.  The contents release upward and fill the air with pesticides and the flammable aerosol.  The spray droplets remain suspended in the air for a short time and gradually settle onto the floors, countertops, clothing, children's toys and other surfaces within the room.

Some homeowners and tenants have thought that if one bug bomb was a good idea -- more bug bombs would be better.  Homeowners have literally blown up their homes in an explosion and set the home on fire.  Other homeowners have had to call for an ambulance to take them to the hospital because they have poisoned themselves.

EPA Requires New Warning Labels

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency has taken action by September 30, 2011, to change the labels on these bug bombs in order to warn the public to the danger associated with these bug bombs.  The new labels are required to be written in plain language with clearer headings that warn the user that there is an explosion hazard.  The new labels will warn the user to  leave the room and open the windows and doors to help rid the home of the poisoned air.  The label will also inform the homeowner that pilot lights may cause the aerosol to explode.

Bug Bombs are Dangerous - Can Cause Fires and Explosions

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published an article that between 2001-2006 there were 466 cases of fogger related illnesses or injury involving exposure to total release foggers (bug bombs).

Homeowners forget to cover exposed food, utensils and food preparation equipment and surfaces before using bug bombs in the kitchen.  Thus, the pesticides are contaminating the food, pots, dishes and food.  Now the homeowner is eating the pesticides.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation  (DPR)  has reported that in April 2001, fumes from a gas pilot light ignites 18 foggers in a small San Diego apartment, ripping the ceiling open and ripping the kitchen cabinets from the walls.  Between 2993 to 2000 the DPR reviewed bout 50 cases of persons being injured from improper use.

"There's a reason why people often refer in these devices as "bug bombs", said DPR Director Paul E. Helliker.  "Foggers are simple to use, but they contain highly flammable materials and consumers should read and follow label directions to the letter."

The propellant inside the aerosol can is highly flammable.  If the homeowner forgets to turn off the pilot lights in his house, that small pilot light can ignite the fog and cause a  fire or an explosion.  This happens several times per year.

The New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation, stated that these total release foggers (bug bombs) have caused at least four to eight serious explosions in apartments in New York City.  According to  Fire Department data, an apartment building in Manhattan was evacuated after a fogger caused an explosion.  Ten people were treated at the scene, including six who were  brought to the hospital.

"Fortunately, we have the authority to address these hazards and protect New Yorkers," said Alexander B. Grannis, commissioner of environmental conservation, whose department will move to classify foggers as restricted-use product, meaning that only certified pesticide applicators -- rather than the public -- will be able to obtain them."

Fire Hazard From Appliances in Multi-Unit Buildings

If you live in a multiple unit building,  it is possible that the ventilation system runs throughout the building.  The bug bomb you set off in your apartment may have the fog travel to adjacent apartments.  If your neighbor has a pilot light or an electrical appliance such as an air conditioner or refrigerator, gas dryer plugged in, that may cause the fog to explode in the adjacent apartment.  The pilot light in the cooking stove could and has in the past caused an explosion.

Bug Bombs are Ineffective Against Bed Bugs

Most bed bugs are resistant to the type of pesticides used in these bug bombs.  The other problem is that bed bugs hide in small cracks and crevices, inside walls and other places that the fog does not penetrate.

The Journal of Economic Entomology published an article on the effectiveness of the bug bombs on bed bugs.  Researchers exposed five different  groups of live bed bugs to three different over-the-counter insect foggers for a period at two hours.  The result was that very few bed bugs dies as a result of exposure to this type of pest control.

A study at the Ohio State University (OSU) and that these bug bombs do not kill the bed bugs.  In fact,  the study found that the foggers actually stirred up the bed bugs and caused them to scatter into the walls, cracks and crevices and SPREAD THE BED BUGS THROUGHOUT THE BUILDING.  The Ohio study also found that bed bugs have developed a resistance to the pesticides used in these bug bombs.  Susan C. Jones,  Ph.D is the head researcher and stated that "Based on our findings, bug bombs should not be used for crawling insects." 

"Aerosols should never be used as space sprays for bed bug "elimination; the fine droplets simply  will not penetrate into the locations where the insects hide.  As most contain pyrethroids, there is an associated excitatory flushing effect and by spraying into space rather than harbourage areas, the bugs are likely to disperse and can spread an infestation.  Like aerosols, the smoke generating insecticides (known as pyrotechnics)_ or total release insecticides ("bombs") are also unlikely to penetrate into harbourage areas."

Bug Bombs Cause Cockroaches to Spread Throughout Building

A study by Ballard et al. (1984)  showed that German cockroaches moved from fogged units to adjacent units in 50 percent of apartments, with increased catches of cockroaches the night following the fogger treatment.  The German cockroaches prematurely released their oothecae (egg cases), resulting in an increase in newly hatched nymphs in response to fogging with pyrethrins or dichlorvos.  This means that fogging increases the cockroach problem in a building.

Bug Bombs (Foggers) Are Only Effective for a Few Hours

Some homeowners and tenants think  they are saving money by doing the job themselves.  They do not realize that the bug bombs only kill the pests that are in the open area of a room at the time the fog is in the air.  There is no lasting effect of the pesticide after a few hours.  Any eggs that are in the room are not affected and the cockroach, mite, bed bug, tick etc. will simply continue to develop and hatch.  The foggers do not kill any pests that are in the walls and cracks and crevices.

Bed bugs like to hide inside mattresses, clothing, base boards, walls, television sets, computers, light fixtures etc.  They will also hide under floor boards, window frames, bed frames, clothing, dog beds, children's toys, pillows and blankets  and more.  The mist from buy bombs do not reach these hiding places.       The mist from the bug bombs will not reach into the mattress or inside pillows or any other hiding places.

They are only called bed bugs because that is where you are when you are being bitten.   If you decide to sleep on the living room couch, the bed begs will find you in that room by sensing the carbon dioxide in your breath.    It is this carbon dioxide that causes bed bugs to come out of their hiding places to feed.   The bug bomb mist will not reach into most of their hiding spots.   It only coats the surfaces of exposed areas.


Call    Cole Home Maintenance   for Help

   Call    630-306-7925   or    847-359-8949 


Cole Home Maintenance knows how to eliminate bed bugs.  There is no reason to be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.  People in million dollar homes with a cleaning crew every week get bed bugs.  You are not alone!  The important thing --  is that you call for help as soon as you find bed bugs.  If you are finding bug bites on your arms or legs, chances are you are having a reaction to the bed bug bites.  These bites may look like small insect bites or a more severe reaction can start to look  like a rash.