Health Services

Smart Tips - Controlling Pests Around the Home

Cancer Prevention and
Health Promotion Coalition Logo


Did you know that the use of pesticides around the home can lead to exposures inside and outside your living space?

Some pesticide ingredients are considered carcinogens (cancer-causing).


Even when applied to outside areas, like your lawn, pesticides can be tracked inside on shoes and pets 1. Once indoors, pesticides can persist for months since they are not exposed to sunlight, weather or broken down by micro-organisms normally found in the soil 2,3,4.

Often pesticides are used unnecessarily to control a pest that is not harmful. Or a pesticide product may be used inappropriately leading to overexposure.

Minimizing exposure to pesticides is beneficial since all pesticides are toxic to some degree 5. There is evidence that some pesticides may pose a risk of cancer, as well as other health effects. Though it is difficult to directly link a specific pesticide use with any of these effects it is prudent to reduce exposure, especially to young children, when possible. Infants and toddlers are particularly at risk since they are closer to the ground or floor surface and frequently put their hands in their mouths 6.

Recommendations: (Note: Many of these recommendations are taken from information provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 7,8)

1) Prevent pest problems before they occur.
i) Eliminate pest entry into your home
ii) Remove food sources, nesting materials, rotting wood
iii) Monitor pests so you catch problems when they are small and more easily controlled
iv) Identify the pest and learn about the best way to control it.

2) Explore options for nonchemical pest controls. When necessary use an organic remedy first. If you must use a chemical pest control, READ THE LABEL FIRST, and understand how to properly use the product safely and effectively. (Contact the Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County for more information 631-727-7850)

3) Children and pets should not be in the area where you mix or apply pesticides.

4) Never eat, drink or smoke while you mix or apply pesticides.

5) Keep pesticides in their original containers and store in locked cabinets or sheds.

6) Never transfer pesticides to other containers such as those used for milk or soft drinks.

7) Mix only the amount of pesticides you need for one application to control a particular pest.

8) Do not use or mix pesticides near your drinking water well.

9) Sweep up granular pesticides that fall on walk ways and driveways and use sweepings on areas to be treated or put back into container. (This prevents runoff to storm drains).

10) Never pour leftover pesticides down the drain, storm drain, or on the ground outside.

11) If you need to dispose of any unwanted pesticide product, contact your Town about hazardous waste collection options.

Resources for More Information

Best Overall Brochures: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County for more information on pest control (631-727-7850)

NYDEC website for more information on pesticides registered in the State

Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors (BCERF):


1. Nishioka, MG, RG Lewis, MC Brinkman, HM Burkholder, CE Hines and JR Menkedick. 2001. Distribution of 2,4-D in Air and on Surfaces inside Residences after Lawn Applications: Comparing Exposure Estimates from Various Media for Young Children. Environmental Health Perspectives. 109(11):1185-1191 (November 2001).

2. Simcox, NJ, RA Fenske, SA Wolz, IC Lee and DA Kalman. 1995. Pesticides in Household Dust and Soil: Exposure Pathways for Children of Agricultural Families. Environmental Health Perspectives 103:1126-1134.

3. Wilson, NK, JCChuang, C Lyu, R Menton and MK Morgan. 2003. Aggregate Exposures of Nine Preschool Children to Persistent Organic Pollutants at Day Care and at Home. J. Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 13:187-202.

4. Lewis, RG, CR Fortune, FT Blanchard and DE Camann. 2001. Movement and Deposition of Two Organophosphorus Pesticides within a Residence after Interior and Exterior Applications. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. 51:339-351 (March 2001).

5. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), 2004. Healthy Lawn, Healthy Environment. Caring for Your Lawn in an Environmentally Friendly Way. 735-K-04-001. September 2004

6. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), 1997. Exposure Factors Handbook. National Center for Environmental Assessment. August, 1997.

7. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Pest Management Information Series; Water Quality and Home Pesticide Use, April 2000.

8. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Pest Management Information Series; Home Pest Management and Children, March 2000.