Popular vacation destinations like St. John are known for their beautiful landscapes, upscale resorts and fun in the sun. But for one family, traveling to the picturesque Virgin Islands has left three of four family members hospitalized. On March 20, 2015 paramedics rushed to the Sirenusa Resort in St. John and found Steve Esmond unconscious while his wife and their two teenage sons were experiencing seizures.
Initial tests have shown that methyl bromide was present in the family’s villa. This odorless, highly toxic pesticide has been banned from residential use in America because of the risks that it poses. If humans are exposed to significant doses of methyl bromide it can cause the respiratory system and nervous system to fail. The unit below the Esmond family’s rental had been treated with the pesticide just two days before they fell ill.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first instance of people traveling out of the country and falling ill or even dying because of exposure to toxic pesticides. Now that summer is just a few months, it’s an opportune time to make sure your vacation destination is practicing safe pest control.
Who to Contact About Pesticides Before Taking a Vacation
Gathering information before leaving home is the best way to protect yourself and your family while on vacation. Below are several sources that can provide you with the information you need.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Check the EPA website to learn which pesticide chemicals have been banned from residential use here in the U.S.
Official Foreign Government Entities – Many developed countries have agencies similar to the EPA that help to protect people from being harmed by chemicals like methyl bromide. For example, the European Commission has an EU Pesticide Database that list pesticides that have been banned in the European Union.
World Health Organization (WHO) – The WHO is also an excellent reference for pesticide-related health concerns in the U.S. and around the world. They have an International Program on Chemical Safety, which provides guidelines and notes chemicals that pose the greatest threats.
Property Manager – Once you know which chemicals can pose a potential threat, ask how pest control is handled before booking your vacation rental. The property manager of the hotel, resort or rental home may know which treatments are used and when treatments are scheduled. At the very least they should have information on the company that provides the pest control so that additional information can be obtained.
The Property’s Pesticide Company – In the case of the Sirenusa Resort, Terminix was the company responsible to administering the pest control treatments. You’ll want to check on the legitimacy of the pest control company and if they have been involved in any previous poisoning cases. It’s also best to call the company to get specific information about the treatments that they use within the vacation property. If the company is unable to provide you with this basic information it’s best to err on the side of caution and select another rental property.
Questions to Ask to Ensure Pesticides Won’t Pose a Threat
Now that you know who to talk to it’s just a matter of asking the right questions. Here we’ve provided a quick cheat sheet of the pesticide questions you’ll want to get answered.
- Who provides pest control treatments?
- Are they licensed?
- What types of chemicals are used at the property?
- Are these chemicals approved for indoor residential use?
- Are there any known side effects from using these pest control treatments?
- How regularly is the property treated?
- How and where is the property treated?
- What steps are taken to minimize exposure?
- Has the pest control company had any complaints or instances of poisoning?
- What is the appropriate amount of pesticide to use and is that adhered to?
Pest control treatments have proven to be completely safe when the right treatments are used and applied correctly. For more information on pesticide safety and treatment options contact the professionals at Vulcan Termite & Pest Control, Inc. We are a licensed pest control company in Alabama that has been in business for 50 years. Our expert technicians stay up-to-date on the latest regulations, safety guidelines and treatment options.