‘Ketchup’ to Pesticide Quality

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of having to make an emergency stop into a tire shop during the middle of a very busy day. No, it wasn’t for white wall weevils infesting the new Good Years just shipped in but my tires were showing severe wear & I was afraid to go one more mile before having them changed. Now it was a very interesting day let alone expensive but as with everything that comes along in my life I try to learn something positive so at the very least I can count all things a ‘plus’ for me and not a negative. This is what my day at the tire store revealed to me.

While waiting for my service I went through 15 cups of coffee and about an hour and a 1/2 of the ‘How thing’s were made’ marathon on the eh emm, free TV in the lobby. The first was how fortune cookies were made and let me just say there are more lottery winners with fortune cookie numbers than anything else so I may just try and forget what I know about bugs and Chinese restaurants to get some of that action. The rest of what I watched was how to make a cheeseburger and the show took you through each ingredient from start to finish and I found it fascinating. What struck me the most was the amount of thinking that goes into even the simplest things and the technology to ensure that each onion, burger pattie, bun and even ketchup was PERFECT and has no varying characteristic in it so that each time you bite into a burger, it’s always the same. A quick example was the ketchup testing lady who measures the viscosity of every batch that gets made. YES that’s right, I said viscosity, determined by the ketchup’s velocity– I mean there’s nothing worse than runny ketchup on a burger is there? This of course got me to thinking about pest control products- I mean isn’t that a normal transition? (well maybe just for me)

Why is it that every pint of Suspend SC or bucket of Boric Acid you buy is exactly the same every time? Much like the ketchup lady there are years of testing and millions of dollars that have gone into getting every detail exactly right and making it duplicatable. Now let’s go one further because we all know the ‘cide’ at the end of any word means to kill and if any aspect of pest control needs to be scrutinized, logic would say this would be the most critical area of concern. To begin with not any old pesticide can just be made up in the garage and put out on the market. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is in charge of setting standards for testing pesticides under the FIFRA Act (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide) and Toxic Substance Control Act, TSCA. Now the EPA doesn’t do all the said testing per se but sets what is called “Good Lab Practices” which the firms testing a pesticide must adhere to and any deviation or failed test is always met with lengthy, expensive retesting which averages out to about 10 years for final approval and a registration number. Now I tried to do due diligence with research on this subject to give you what I could but found the whole subject ruled by braniac’s far to smart for me. These are of course the same types of smart people who write our labels for how to properly use the final product and I have a pretty strong opinion on that you can read here, but I digress. Here are just a few things which the pesticides you buy and use are tested for and the purpose or goal of such testing.

Acute Oral Lethality, Acute Dermal Lethality, Acute Inhalation Lethality, Primary Dermal Irritation, Dermal Sensitization, Primary Ocular Irritation, Acute Delayed Neurotoxicity, 21 Day Dermal Exposure, 90 Day Dermal Exposure, 90 Day Feeding Study, 90 Day Inhalation Exposure, 90 Day Neurotoxicity Assessment, Chronic Feeding Study, Oncoginicity Study, Teratogenicity Study, Reproduction Study, Gene Mutation, Chromosomal Aberration Studies, Other Genotoxic Effects, General Metabolism and Domestic Animal Safety.

Now these test do not include the barrage of environmental studies but it took over 485 pages to just explain the scope of this list so I think you get the picture here. The goal of the testing is just as lofty in it’s explanation.

As defined by Hayes (1975), toxicology is “the qualitative and especially the quantitative study of the injurious effects of chemical and physical agents, as observed in alterations in structure and response in living systems; it includes the application of the findings of these studies to the evaluation of safety and to the prevention of injury to humans and all useful forms of life.”

So while this is all pretty impressive what does this mean to you and to I? While the world screams foul and greed to the big chemical companies of the world, insecticides are perhaps the most tested substances known to man. This does not ensure 100% safety because it does come down to the applicator but it should at least put to rest some fears that these products in and of themselves are not evil or oozing contamination and injury just by existing. Pair up these pest control products with a professional technician who undergoes rigorous testing of another kind and you have the makings of a very uniform, reliable and effective service that will keep you and your family bug free. Pesticides are made to benefit mankind and have been so for many years and are only getting better. So the next time you’re waiting for that ketchup to slowly pour out of the bottle you can thank the ketchup velocity lady for that very predictable result and just as well, the next time you have a serious pest control issue and pesticides need to be used. You can thank your chemical manufacturers and the tech who applied it professionally to kill those bugs.

Jerry Schappert

The Bug Doctor

*Thoughts and ideas expressed in this article are that of the author.


In pest control for 26 years and company owner since 1991. My current passion is writing my blog and trying to help people as much as I can from what I've learned.

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