Truths vs. Myths
When is comes to the perceived risks of insect control products on our health and safety it’s hard to differentiate truth from fiction. There are a lot of stories circulating out there, and many of them are misleading, incomplete or simply not true. Not only that, what we think we know about bugs and how to keep them away can also turn out to be incorrect.
Below you’ll find some of the common myths surrounding insect control products and bugs, along with the real answers to clear up any confusion.
- Myth: There is no need for insect control products.
The truth: Insect control products help protect your family by controlling wasps and hornets that can cause stings and allergic reactions, repelling mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus and controlling cockroaches that can carry and spread diseases. When required they are an important tool that can be safe and effective when used according to the label.
- Myth: Natural insect products are safer than synthetic compounds.
The truth: Health Canada’s PMRA makes no distinction between naturally occurring chemicals and synthetic chemicals when assessing their risks. The risk any chemical poses to your health is a function of its toxicity and your exposure to it, regardless of whether it is natural or synthetic.
All chemicals proposed for insect control use must meet the same “proof of safety” standard. A natural source of a chemical does not equate to safety. Many powerful toxins are naturally occurring chemicals derived from plants, animals or minerals.
- Myth: Insect control products are not safe.
The truth: Insect control products are safe if used and stored as recommended on the label. All insect control products used in or imported to Canada are regulated federally under Health Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) and Regulations.
- Myth: Insect control products cause cancer.
The truth: Insect control products are carefully regulated in Canada. Only products that do not pose an unacceptable risk of cancer in humans are registered for use in Canada. Detailed risk assessment and margins of safety are built into the human health evaluations that Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) carries out on proposed pesticides.
- Myth: Some ingredients in insect control products are not safe.
The truth: All registered products are safe when used according to the label directions.
- Myth: Raid® & OFF!® aerosols contain CFCs.
The truth: SC Johnson was the first company to unilaterally and voluntarily remove chlorofluorocarbon propellants from its aerosols worldwide in 1975, when the scientific debate over CFCs was in its infancy. Neither CFCs nor HCFCs have been used in SC Johnson products produced in Canada since that time.
- Myth: If some insect control products kill bugs, they must also harm humans?
The truth: Raid® and OFF!® products are specially formulated with the consumer in mind. All of our products are reviewed and evaluated by Health Canada’s PMRA so as to pose no unacceptable risks to humans.
- Myth: Skin care products are safer repellents.
The truth: Certain skincare products (e.g., oils and lotions) have been touted for years as an effective alternative to DEET-based repellents. The truth is that these products provide little or no protection against mosquito bites. DEET-based repellents are recommended by health protection authorities as one method of effective mosquito protection.
- Myth: Bug zappers provide all the protection my family need.
The truth: While bug zappers do attract and kill many insects, mosquitoes represent only 6.4 percent of the insects killed, with only half of those being female (male mosquitoes do not bite humans). Bug zappers are not the full answer to the mosquito problem.
- Myth: Vitamin B-1 helps to repel mosquitoes.
The truth: There is no credible scientific evidence to indicate that Vitamin B-1 is effective in preventing mosquito bites.
- Myth: Spiders are insects.
The truth: Spiders are not actually insects. They belong to the Arachnid family. The spider’s body has four pairs of legs and organs located at the tip of the abdomen that produce the silk that comprises their webs.
- Myth: Mosquitoes can transmit HIV
The truth: There is NO medical evidence that a human has ever contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from a mosquito.
- Myth: Rubbing fabric softener sheets on your skin will prevent mosquito bites.
The truth: No scientific tests have demonstrated that this method is effective in preventing mosquitoes.
- Myth: Eating bananas will attract mosquitoes to you.
The truth: No studies indicate that eating bananas will attract mosquitoes to you. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide your body emits, along with strong fragrances from perfumes, hair care products and skin care products.
- Myth: Eating garlic will repel mosquitoes.
The truth: As with bananas, there is no scientific data that suggests that eating garlic will help repel mosquitoes.
- Myth: If the product smells bad or has a strong chemical smell, it must be unsafe for me to use.
The truth: There is no correlation between the strength of the smell and harmful effects.
- Myth: All pesticides are the same.
The truth: Not all pesticides are the same. Pesticides is an umbrella term for all pest control products and includes herbicides (weed killers), insecticides (kills insects) and fungicides (kills fungi).