After years and years of recommending, and using, different insecticides and pesticide for the indoor garden market, have you ever wondered how safe some of these options really are ?
It’s no secret that too often home grown consumable produce may have more chemicals on them than we would like, for examples Pyrethrum is sold to most gardeners as a “safe” alternative to other “harsher” pesticides and insecticides such as agricultural grade insecticides and fungicides. Today we want to share some information we found about these different chemicals and their effects on the human body.
For the purpose of this post we will be focusing on “Pyrethrum” as that is a much more commonly sold in garden store and nurseries in the South United States, and specifically Texas.
There are several forms of “Pyrethrum” and while the source is typically the same, the Chrysanthemum flower, there are also synthetic forms made to mimic the contents of pyrethrum. Check out this article below as I think it sums this bit of information up the best.
” There are a variety of py-words out there: pyrethrum, pyrethrins, permethrin, pyrethroids – so let’s break it all down:
- Pyrethrum and pyrethrins are insecticides extracted from certain species of flowers in the chrysanthemum family.
- Pyrethrins are the 6 active molecules – or esters – that act as the killing agent in the extract.
- Pyrethrum is the total extract from the flowers, while pyrethrins are the refined 6 esters.
- Pyrethroids are synthetic compounds produced to mimic the effects of the pyrethrin esters.
- Pyrethroids contain fewer chemical variants, usually 1 synthetic molecule as opposed to the 6 esters in pyrethrum.
- Pyrethrins are broad spectrum and kill a wide variety of insects, while pyrethroids tend to have longer residual effects and increased stability in storage. “
- – MGK.com
Now that we are aware there are different forms of “Pyrethrum” lets look at how they can effect the human body. Below is an article about the research being done to examine the effects of the “py-words” on the human body. Here is the excerpt from the abstract at the beginning of the article.
“Current Research on the Safety of Pyrethroids Used as Insecticides
Pyrethroids are synthetic derivatives of natural pyrethrins extracted from Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium. They are 2250 times more toxic to insects than to vertebrates due to insects’ smaller size, lower body temperature and more sensitive sodium channels. In particular, three pyrethroid compounds, namely deltamethrin, permethrin, and alpha-cypermethrin, are commonly used as insecticides and are recommended for in-home insect control because they are considered to be relatively non-toxic to humans in all stages of life. However, recent data show that they are not completely harmless to human health as they may enter the body through skin contact, by inhalation and food or water, and absorption level depending on the type of food. Permethrin seems to have an adverse effect on fertility, the immune system, cardiovascular and hepatic metabolism as well as enzymatic activity. Deltamethrin induces inflammation, nephro- and hepatotoxicity and influences the activity of antioxidant enzymes in tissues. Alpha-cypermethrin may impair immunity and act to increase glucose and lipid levels in blood. The aim of the review is to provide comprehensive information on potential hazards associated to human exposure to deltamethrin, permethrin and alpha-cypermethrin. The results of presented studies prove that the insecticides must be used with great caution.”
*We found a couple other interesting articles from the National Library of Medicine about this topic, but unfortunately they require a subscription to Science Direct. So I’m going to leave these here to review at a later date in time.
Pyrethroids: exposure and health effects–an update
Hazard identification and risk assessment of pyrethroids in the indoor environment
Application safety is always a big deal when spraying pesticides and/or insecticides in a closed environment. For all intents and purposes, we recommend using a Tyvek suit and respiratory devices such as a cartridge face mask rated for this application, including a face shield or eye protection. Too often have we caught customers merely using a long sleeve shirt, a bandana/mask, and MAYBE safety glasses, but this can still cause long terms issues if the applicator does not take the proper steps to insure their safety; immediately showering and changing clothes would be a start.
Most products nowadays have a SDS, or Safety Data Sheet, this is a document used to tell the user about the dangers of the chemicals in the product they are using. Typically safety and emergency procedures are listed in the SDS, and any instructions or dilution information should be located in a pamphlet stuck or taped to the side of the bottle or container being used. When in doubt always call the manufacturer. Sometimes the garden store you may have bought these products may not be up to day with with dilution rations and safety precautions as products change over time and research is done every year to protect consumers from unknowingly harming themselves.
For almost all pesticides and insecticide there is what is called a Re-Entry Interval, or REI. This is the minimum duration an environment must be evacuated by humans while a pesticide or insecticide is being sprayed, or has been sprayed. These are useful when informing employees or partners in any garden environment as safety from contamination should be posted and made know during the REI periods.
All of this is said not scare anyone, or suggest that anyone is doing anything wrong, but the idea of safety is a bigger and bigger concern these days as more and more customers are bringing their gardens indoors. If you have any question and products and safety always feel free to reach out to use at the email at the top of the screen of call us during business hours. Thanks for reading. See you next time for more garden, tips, tricks, product highlight, and yes, safety tips. Stay green my friends.