Senator Wants Bug Bomb Cease Fire

Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-New York City, wants to call a cease fire on the use of “bug bombs” in New York state.

Myrie has introduced S.7516 in the Senate to amend the state Environmental Conservation Law to restrict the use of total release fogging pesticides, commonly known as bug bombs, from consumer sale and prohibit their use in multi-unit commerical buildings. If Myrie’s bill is passed, only licensed pesticide applicators or technicians.

Bug bombs are pesticide products designed to fill an area with insecticide by releasing the complete pressurized contents of cans in a widely distributed fine mist.

“Adverse health effects to total release foggers are frequent and exposures to insecticidal foggers are more likely to result in adverse health outcomes, such as pesticide poisoning, than exposures to other pesticide products,” Myrie wrote in his legislative justification. “Foggers should not be used in multi-dwelling buildings, but existing New York state law does not prohibit this use. Restricting the sale of pesticide foggers to consumers, restricting their use in multi-dwelling buildings, or restricting the use to licensed pesticide applicators will reduce their use by ensuring they are applied only by personnel trained to understand and follow the restrictions and warnings on the product label and will result in better targeting when they are used.”

Myrie’s information on health issues from bug bombs may be tied to a 2019 study North Carolina State University study that found several types of bug bombs killed less than 40% of wild cockroaches in the spaces where they were used. At the same time, the study found bug bombs deposit significant amounts of insecticide where humans are likely to come into contact with it, such as on tabletops, kitchen counters and floors. Researchers swabbed rooms exposed to bug bombs and found the pesticide residue was still lingering several weeks after use.

This isn’t the first time bug bombs have come under state review. In 2009, the Associated Press reported the state DEC was going to classify the foggers as a restricted use product after a CDC report noted 466 illnesses or injuries related to indoor foggers in eight states — including 123 in New York — between 2001 and 2006. Most were described as minor and attributed to using too many foggers or not leaving the fogged room.

The CDC did not recommend banning public use of the pesticides. Rather, it said greater efforts were needed to promote safer alternatives to pesticides, such as preventing insects from getting into homes. It also recommended campaigns warning people to read and follow label directions. And it said signs should be posted outside spaces that had been treated and informing neighbors when an apartment is going to be fumigated.

There have also been reports of explosions in New York City apartments caused by foggers, including one as recent as 2017.

“This is an environmental justice issue disproportionately affecting lower-income individuals, as bug bombs are a relatively inexpensive pest management solution. As a result, individuals living in older, larger multi-dwellings, who also suffer from adverse health outcomes like asthma at higher rates, are disproportionately exposed to the harmful effects of bug bombs,” Myrie wrote.


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