Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers
Current as of May 2012
EPA has prepared this fact sheet to help users reduce potential hazards associated with total release foggers. Total release foggers, also known as "bug bombs," are pesticide products containing aerosol propellants that release their contents at once to fumigate an area. These products are often used around the home to kill cockroaches, fleas, and other pests. Because the aerosol propellants in these foggers typically are flammable, improper use may cause a fire or explosion. In addition to this hazard, failure to vacate premises during fogging or reentering without airing out may result in illness.
On this page:
- Pest Prevention First
- Safety Precautions
- Take Other Common-Sense Precautions
- EPA Labeling Actions to Reduce Risk of Fire
- For More Information
Vacate the treated residence after application
Do not use more foggers than necessary
Keep foggers away from ignition sources
Foggers and bug bombs should not be used as the only method to attempt to control bed bugs.
The most effective way to reduce or eliminate pest problems and risks posed by pesticides is to first prevent these pests from entering your home. Around the home, such measures include removing sources of food and water (such as leaky pipes) and destroying pest shelters and breeding sites (such as litter and plant debris). For additional information about preventing pests around the home, please review EPA's Web page on Controlling Pests, and for additional advice on pest issues and pesticide safety see the "Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety" (PDF) (54 pp, 2.4 MB, About PDF)
When nonchemical pesticide prevention measures are not effective to control pests, you may choose to use a chemical pesticide. One type of product is the total release fogger. While these products can be effective under the proper circumstances, they can pose real risks to your home and family if used improperly. Before using a total release fogger in your home or building, please read and follow the safety tips and common-sense precautions below.
- Do not use more foggers than necessary - Watch Video
- Keep foggers away from ignition sources - Watch Video
- Notify family members, neighbors, and anyone else that may enter the premises
- Vacate the treated house, individual apartment unit, or other structure immediately - Watch Video
- Air out after returning to the treated area
Accidents involving total release foggers have occasionally occurred when homeowners release too much fogging material, leading to a high buildup of flammable vapors. Currently available foggers come in several sizes. Read the label carefully to determine the appropriate size for the space you have.
Foggers should not be used in small, enclosed places, such as closets, cabinets, or under counters or tables. Use of a fogger in an enclosed space may cause the product to explode, resulting in injury to people or damage to property.
To calculate the volume of a living area, multiply the height, width, and length of each room, and then add the room volumes together. For example, a 10 foot by 10 foot room with a standard 8 foot ceiling has a volume of 800 cubic feet.
Accidents are most likely to occur if large amounts of fogger material come into direct contact with an ignition source, such as a flame, pilot light, or spark from an electrical appliance that cycles on and off (e.g., refrigerator or air conditioner). EPA recommends placing the active fogger at least 6 feet or farther from all ignition sources. If you need assistance with extinguishing pilot lights, please contact your local gas utility or management company.
In addition to telling everyone that they should not enter the area, be certain to use door tags if they are included with the product or print out your own warning signs (1 pp, 41.50K, About PDF) if you cannot find tags with the product. This will help reduce the risk of other people walking into the home or room and accidentally exposing themselves to the pesticides released from the device.
Breathing spray mist may be harmful. Safe use of these products requires that everyone, including pets, leave the treated space and close the doors after foggers have been released. Stay out until the time indicated on the label has passed, usually two to four hours. Prematurely entering the treated premises may lead to illness.
Upon return to the treated area, open the doors and windows to ventilate any remaining fumes. Fans placed in doors and windows can assist in airing out the treated area.
- Use no more than one fogger per room, since a typical 6 oz. fogger is enough to treat a very large area, up to 25 by 25 feet of unobstructed space.
- Remove all children, pets, toys, and uncovered food from treated area.
- Read the label and follow directions carefully.
- Keep the product away from children, for example, in a locked cabinet or shed.
- Teach children not to touch pesticide products and other household chemicals.
- Keep the telephone number of your local poison control center or the toll-free number (1-800-222-1222) for the National Poison Control Hotline handy.
In 1998, EPA revised flammability label warnings to reduce the risk of fires and explosions. These labeling requirements also provide specific directions for proper use of these products with minimal effects to industry or consumers. Specifically, the 1998 label requirements mandated the following label changes to total release foggers that contain highly flammable propellants:
- The "Physical and Chemical Hazards" section of the label must contain a graphic symbol depicting fire, and now reads: This product contains a highly flammable ingredient. It may cause a fire or explosion if not used properly. Follow the "Directions for Use" on this label very carefully.
- The "Directions for Use" section of the label now reads: DO NOT use more than one fogger per room. DO NOT use in small, enclosed spaces such as closets, cabinets, or under counters or tables. DO NOT use in a room 5 feet by 5 feet or smaller; instead, allow fog to enter from other rooms. Turn off ALL ignition sources such as pilot lights (shut off gas valves), other open flames, or running electrical appliances that cycle off and on (i.e., refrigerators, thermostats, etc.). Call your gas utility or management company if you need assistance with your pilot lights.
For additional information about pesticides and poisoning prevention, please contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 800-858-7378.
For information about Federal programs to regulate pesticides, please contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Pesticide Programs
Communication Services Branch (7506P)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460