Is Bifenthrin Safe?
A recent study has sparked debate concerning the safety of Bifenthrin and its use to control ticks and reduce Lyme disease. The EPA has approved Bifenthrin for the control of ticks and it has been proven to be a safe product. Even so, the risks of Lyme disease greatly out-weigh any possible safety risks of this long-used product.
On May 29, 2012, The Baltimore Sun newspaper published a front-page article about a study underwritten by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is taking place in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties in Maryland. The study involves spraying the yards of residents in these areas with bifenthrin to determine how well this product will protect them from Lyme disease.
All the residents volunteered to participate in the study after receiving a flyer asking for their participation and responses to a survey about ticks. The flyers were sent to residents in ZIP codes with a high incidence of Lyme disease in the past. Half the participants’ yards will receive applications of bifenthrin while others will be sprayed with water in order to see how well the bifenthrin performs. The CDC conducted this study last year and 440 families participated, according to the article. The article also states that similar studies are taking place in Connecticut and New York.
Here is a link to the study notice as well as Q&A regarding bifenthrin on the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/ticknet/ltdps/
Environmental activists and some health experts were quoted in the article expressing concern about the safety of bifenthrin. They claim that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified bifenthrin as a possible carcinogen and that it is being studied by the EPA for possible harm to reproductive and immune systems, among other things.
The National Pest management Association made the following statement: “The article published in the May 29, 2012, edition of The Baltimore Sun discusses the CDC study, ‘Using Bifenthrin in ZIP Codes With High Incidence of Lyme Disease,’ and draws attention to the fact that tick-borne illnesses are very serious and can negatively impact humans and animals in areas where ticks are found. While we cannot specifically comment on the study itself, we understand the CDC’s concern about Lyme disease and agree that eliminating tick populations can go a long way in decreasing the risks posed to people and their pets. Tick control is necessary due to the fact that these pests are vectors of serious disease, including Lyme disease. Lyme disease, which according to the CDC is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the U.S., can be transmitted to humans by the blacklegged tick, also commonly known as the deer tick. Maryland residents are at high risk for tick encounters this year, as many health and pest experts have predicted this to be one of the most severe tick seasons in years.
The article also raises an issue regarding the safety of the pest control product, bifenthrin, when applied to yards for the purpose of tick control and elimination. Bifenthrin is a product that is very effective against ticks and according to its label instructions, can be applied in yards and wooded areas to protect people and pets against ticks.
All products used by licensed pest professionals are rigorously reviewed and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. Pest management professionals are trained in the biology and control of pests such as ticks and are licensed and regulated by the states in which they operate.“
A Few Important Notes About Tick Control, Bifenthrin and Lyme Disease
Experts are predicting a large tick population this year due to several environmental factors and as such, there is a concern that we may also see an increase in human cases of tick-borne diseases.
We can confidently say that the professional products used in the treatment of ticks, just like other pests are rigorously reviewed and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Licensed pest professionals in Maryland, through the National Pest Management Association, work closely with the EPA to ensure that all products used in pest management practices are consistently reviewed, re-registered and provided with accurate and comprehensive labeling for use. If consumers are concerned by the issues raised in the Baltimore Sun article, we encourage them to contact the EPA and the CDC to discuss these concerns and to consult with a qualified and licensed pest professional to determine what preventative measures are available if they suspect their yards are harboring ticks and to discuss all treatment options.
It is important to be aware of ways to prevent being bitten by a tick. Here are some tips to keep in mind: When in an area where ticks are common, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light colored so ticks will be easy to detect.Tuck pants into socks. Use a tick repellent containing DEET. Upon returning indoors, inspect clothing and your entire body, including your head, for ticks. Don’t forget to check your family members who may have been out with you and/or your family pet as well. After spending time in a tick habitat, it’s a good idea to take a shower because it will afford you the opportunity to thoroughly inspect your entire body. Wash clothes immediately. Keep grass cut low, including around fence lines, sheds, trees, shrubs, swing sets and other difficult to cut locations and remove weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard. Inquire about lawn tick treatments, especially those that focus on the edges of the lawn where it interfaces with natural areas. This method has the greatest chance of preventing ticks from establishing themselves in your back yard Pet owners should speak to their veterinarians about preventative flea and tick treatments, as these can help deter pet pests and kill ticks on contact/upon being bitten. If a tick is found attached, it should be removed with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. If possible, it’s best to use forceps or tweezers and grab on or just behind the mouth-parts. If you must use fingers, the fingernails of the thumb and forefinger should be placed on or just behind the mouthparts. Once removed, wash hands and attachment site thoroughly with soap and water. Ticks should then be flushed down a toilet or wrapped tightly in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle since they can be difficult to crush.