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Legally Approved Termiticides

Before termiticides are released for public use, manufacturers have to secure the approval of the state where the chemicals are to be sold and used. For example, all termiticides marketed and used in Australia should be approved by the APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority). In the same way, termiticides marketed and used in the United States should be approved by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) too. Listed below are five of the most popularly used termiticides both in Australia and in the United States.

1. Alpha-cypermethrin

Along with the other laboratory-produced pyrethrums called synthetic pyrenthroids, Alpha-cypermethrin is also used in repelling or killing termites. Like its naturally occurring counterpart, synthetic pyrenthroids kill termites and other similar insects by disrupting the sodium channels of the affected insect's nerve cells. The disruption of the sodium channels alters the salt balance inside the insect's body leading to severe nervous system damage.

Nevertheless, although alpha-cypermethrin is very effective in controlling termite infestations, its reputation is continually being marred because of its high toxicity not only to pests but also to unsuspecting mammals. The chemical can affect the central nervous system of a mammal causing muscular twitching and spasms. However, manufacturers of termiticides containing alpha-cypermethrin maintain their claim that their products are supported by a long-standing clean safety record. Experts also agree that the effects of alpha-cypermethrin are highly reversible and that alpha-cypermethrin poisoning is very rare.

Alpha-cypermethrin can be dispensed with water or with oil. The chemical becomes less toxic when it is dispensed with water than when it is dispensed with oil. In low concentrations, the chemical can cause skin numbness and irritations. It can also cause stomach-related sicknesses like diarrhea and vomiting. However, high dosages of alpha-cypermethrin can cause liver and kidney damages to some experimented animals.

2. Arsenic Trioxide

Arsenic is used in termite control through baiting technology or through direct nest application because of its high level of toxicity. Through these methods, possible public exposure is less likely to happen thus securing the public from the harmful effect of Arsenic.

If Arsenic is digested by a person or by a mammalian pet, severe stomach pains would be experienced along with vomiting and LBM. Through a series of laboratory experiments, scientists have established that Arsenic is easily absorbed by the intestinal tract right after it is ingested. Arsenic damages the liver and the kidney the most because 80% of compound passes through these organs before excretion. Only 20% of the compound is excreted through the feces.

Nonetheless it was found out that the human body also needs Arsenic to function normally. However, when the Arsenic in the body exceeds that of the required level, diseases are most likely to appear. It has been found out that a long-term exposure to high levels of Arsenic can cause skin problems that may lead to skin cancer. Furthermore, in other laboratory experiments, it has been found out that Arsenic can cause mutagenic effects (DNA alteration) to test animals.

The harms that Arsenic can do to the human body are the main reason why its usage is strictly limited to direct nest application and to termite baits only.

3. Bifenthrin

Like Alpha-cypermethrin, Bifenthrin is also a synthetic pyrenthroid or a synthetized pyrethrum. It is proven to be very effective in repelling and killing termites.

Although Bifenthrin can affect the peripheral parts of a human's nervous system when ingested, it still considered as a very safe termiticide. The most that it can do is cause slight body tremors which can lead to walking difficulties. Over the years, Bifenthrin is known to have a very clean safety record.

In a series of laboratory experiments on animals exhibiting the same body characteristics as humans, it was found out that the chemical is simply excreted out of the animal's body without any change in its chemical composition. This means that the Bifenthrin is not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract of the animal. Nonetheless, it was also found out that the chemical can cause skin allergies and irritations.

Bifenthrin also pose a very little threat to the environment. In fact, the chemical hardly mixes with water making it almost impossible for the chemical to bind with the soil.

4. Chlorpyrifos

Chlorpyrifos is highly useful in the field of agriculture because it can repel and kill many different kinds of insects. Chlorpyrifos is classified as an organophosphate insecticide, or a type of insecticide that kills insects by disturbing the normal activity of the insect's nervous system. As a result, the enzyme called acetyl cholinesterase becomes overly stimulated. The condition leads to the severe twitching of the insect's muscles which leads to muscular paralysis, then death.

Although Chlorpyrifos is easily absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract of a human body, it is still not considered to be a very dangerous chemical (when ingested by accident) because it does not linger long inside the human body. In most cases, it is simply excreted through the urine. Nonetheless, long exposures to the chemical is still dangerous because it can cause genetic mutations which can either cause problems with the reproductive system or cause cancer to develop in the body.

Moreover, Chlorpyrifos can be really harmful to the environment when not handled properly. Although it is not soluble in water, the chemical is easily absorbed by the soil which can lead to the death of the microorganisms in the soil that help in decomposing dead plants and animals.

Apart from the four termiticides listed above, the other termiticides that are legally-approved in both the United States and in Australia are: Fipronil, Hexaflumuron, Imidacloprid, Permethrin and Triflumuron. Although these chemicals are approved for public use, it should be noted that these chemicals are still poisonous and are supposed to be handled very carefully. To aid users on handling such chemicals, the "Standard for Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons (SUSDP)" has released an official poison scheduling of all termiticides. Three schedules are assigned for termiticide use, these are:

1. Schedule 5 - This is the lowest schedule level for hazardous chemicals. Anyone can acquire these types of chemicals. Companies manufacturing chemicals classified as Schedule 5 should be labeled with the word "Caution".

2. Schedule 6 - Such chemicals are more dangerous than Schedule 5 chemicals. These chemicals can be dispensed to the public too but containers should bear the label "Poison".

3. Schedule 7 - This is the highest Schedule level allocated for termiticides. These chemicals cannot be acquired by individuals without special licenses to handle highly dangerous termiticides. Schedule 7 termiticides should bear the label "Dangerous Poison".

Yours Sincerely,
Michael Rozatoru :)
termite extermination