Ask Dr. Nandi: Insecticide associated with death risk, study says

Posted at 9:59 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 21:59:54-04

In our Health Alert tonight, as annoying as summer bugs can be, you might want to think twice about using insect-killing chemicals.

Recent research has linked an increased death risk to pyrethroid insecticide.

I am not a fan of summer bugs so I get why some people might want to use chemicals to keep them away. Unfortunately, products that contain pyrethroids might be affecting how long some people live.

Researchers analyzed urine samples from over 2,000 people - looking to see if pyrethroid insecticide was present. And here’s what they found, those who had the highest levels of pyrethroid metabolite in their urine had a 56% higher risk of dying from any cause. And they were three times more likely to die from heart disease when compared to the folks who were in the lowest exposure group.

Pyrethroids are a group of manmade pesticides. They’re considered to be low toxicity to humans, and they supposedly do not accumulate in our bodily tissues.

Now, this pesticide kills off bugs by messing with their nerve function, which is why you’ll find pyrethroids in many household and garden pest control products. But they can also them in pet sprays, shampoos, lice treatments, and mosquito repellents. And they’re widely used in agriculture, horticulture, medicines and veterinary medicines. So you can see how humans are easily exposed to this insecticide, which, to me, is a bit concerning.

I would try going “green” or using non-chemical options first. You can try flyswatters, jar traps, or pheromone traps.

If you feel you have to use pesticides, then use them sparingly. Choose pesticides with low toxicity, and spot treat small areas. Also, be sure to read the label and never use more than what is recommended.

I would also wear gloves and masks if possible because pyrethroids may enter the body through inhalation and skin contact.