Chemical companies don't like to get sued, so most modern general-use pesticides exploit weaknesses in insects that humans just don't have. Some customers are aware of how safe the chemicals are and ask us to spray their kids' lice-ridden hair or get rid of their dog's fleas. We never do, but if we did, it probably would be completely safe. Even some of the most infamous banned chemicals, like DDT, are actually very safe and arguably still the most effective means of pest control.
Observing the World
Pictured: A totally safe use of DDT.
Now, many of the concerned people prefer a "natural method" to some kind of chemical, which would make sense if any natural methods freaking worked. For example, two of the most common methods I've seen used for ant removal are laying out cinnamon and borax (a naturally occurring mineral commonly found in detergent). I have seen ants go marching right through that stuff and not even come close to getting sick. They'll simply build a new hill about a foot away from your little cinnamon pile just to mock you.
And here's the thing -- where the chemicals we're using have been engineered to not hurt your toddler if he gets some of it on his face, if you get some cinnamon into his nose or eyes, get ready for some intense agony. Meanwhile, borax can burn your eyes or make you nauseous, and has been added to the E.U.'s list of substances that can potentially cause birth defects. But hey, at least it's all-natural!
You know what else is all-natural? The swarm of spiders in your house.
We actually do use a few organic sprays, but only because they work in limited situations, and they are also worse than chemicals. The main one is pyrethrin, which comes from chrysanthemum flowers and is used in things such as flea dip. Now, synthetic pyrethroids are actually less harmful than the organic ones, but there's no way to get around that word "synthetic," so people keep using the more dangerous organic version.
Yes, it takes a shitload of pyrethrin to kill a man, enough that you'll only die from it if you've been chugging milkshakes made of the stuff, but enough exposure can cause asthma and convulsions, even in healthy adults. And that's the point: People tend to forget that "natural" doesn't mean "safe," because more often than not, nature is designed to kill you.
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