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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This thread is for discussing this flea control article.


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Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
I found this article last night because i was searching the web for information on boric acid toxicity. I am one of the people who has been unfortunately taken in by FleaBusters.  Monday of last week, I had them come and treat my home.  I am very cautious about pesticides. I use Burnout on weeds, and bathroom cleaners from the health store, etc.  I'd rather be dirty than poisoned. 

But January of 06 I got a little dog, and i live in Santa Monica where i'm told fleas are very endemic in the sand, and every year in the summer, my cat gets a few fleas.  It hasn't been bad. I confess, i gave her Program once or twice in the summer over the past few years, and had no problem with fleas, i got bitten now and then, and those things really do itch, but i never wanted to use any kind of poison on my home, i would rather have the bites. I did find this great little thing on the web called Itch Stopper, it's a device that puts heat on the bite and it truly has worked awesomely for me, taking away the itch of flea bites.

Anyway, but last summer, i guess the fleas were much more inspired by my dog than they had been by my cat, my dog was scratching.  I had no intention of putting poison on him, Advantage, Frontline, nor spreading poison in my home, so i set about trying alternative stuff.  During the same week, i put DE in his bedding, i gave him Brewers Yeast and Garlic tablets, and i sprayed Neem oil on him.  The DE had a bad effect on us, every morning he was choking, and i developed an inflamed feeling in my upper respiratory tract.  I tried beating the bedding outside to get the dust out, but ended up just making my own symptoms worse, even though i wore a dust mask.  So i had to throw the bedding away, sadly. It was a nice thing, a Snoozy pad.  Anyway, the inflammed feeling in my bronchial area was scary. I don't normally have allergies or this symptom.  I was afraid it would lead to cancer eventually.  I took a homeopathic remedy called Dulpomen.  It cleared up, but it scared me.  It was food grade DE. 

Then, my dog got very sick, he couldn't walk.  After three days he got lesions all over his body.  He had abnormal blood tests.  The diagnosis was pyoderma caused by fleas, he took Clavamox for it.  Still, i did not want to give in and use flea poison.  Unfortunately, i didn't know what i was doing and was just trying to learn on the web, and as a result i made mistakes, especially with the DE, putting the wrong amount on, apparently. I was following directions on the container, or from websites and mail lists. 

I tried spraying him with vinegar and water, i sprinkled brewers yeast all over him--over 2 or 3 weeks with no success.  I tried DE again, this time sprinkling it all over my carpet, wearing a dust mask, and rubbing it into the carpet with my hands.  Again, i got inflamed bronchii though not as bad as the first time because i was so careful. 

but still, my dog scratched and after he finished the Clavamox, the lesions started increasing again.  His vet said she thought i should give him Capstar and Revolution, she said she thought it was better than giving another course of Clavamox.  I called Flea Busters. They told me that for their guarantee to apply, i would have to empty out my closets and under my beds.  Those parts of my home were crammed with stuff, i live in an apartment, not much storage space.  So, i realized that the problem was that i had these parts of my home that fleas could hide in, and also, i realized that the real solution would be vacuuming just about every day. 

With a depressing sense of defeat, i did put Capstar and Revolution once on my dog, the fleas went away, and that was that. Flea season ended, and i vowed that by the next year flea season, i would declutter my apartment and i would have Flea Busters come out and professionally put boric acid in my home so that my dog would not have to have Capstar and Revolution ever again.

The reason i trusted boric acid was that in my previous home, i had a lot of roaches, and again, unwillingness to use poisons, so i lived with them more than i would've liked to, and then i discovered boric acid powder, and i put it around all the crevices and cracks and in the cabinets.  It worked well, and i never had any bad reaction to it that i'm aware of.

so, this year, i got a new Dyson DC18 vacuum clutter, i worked hard for two months to radically declutter my home, but i was behind schedule, fleas were attacking my dog, i was really scared because of how sick he got last year, seeing this exuberant little guy laying around listless, not able to walk across the room, and then huge yellow and red lesions all over him, so because i wasn't ready for flea busters yet, and because i hadn't had the vacuum cleaner very long (i've had it just over a month now) i felt i had to use Revolution again.  I

t worked for a few days and then the fleas came back.  Meanwhile i was vacuuming almost every day, emptying the cannister outside, and i put nematodes in the backyard.  so, i gave a dose of Capstar. I only expected it to last for one day as it says on the label, but after three days, still no fleas. So apparently the vacuuming was really working. But by then, i had made the appointment with FleaBusters, and i considered cancelling it, but i made a naive judgement call and they came Monday before last. 

Ever since then, off and on, i am having that same irritation in my upper respiratory tract that i got from the DE dust, except with the DE, the symptom went away after several days.  This time, it's not going away.  I guess i'm like a canary in a cave. Most people or everyone but me, does not get this reaction, but i am getting it, and i'm afraid it may be a warning of a carcinogenic effect that will hurt me in the long run. My dog is not showing symptoms.  But i know that the dust is in the air, i can tell because of the inflamed feeling in my bronchial area which i never have otherwise, except from the DE last year. 

I want to get this stuff out of my house, not sure how.  I guess i can have the carpet washed but i'm afraid in my ignorance, i'll cause new problems. I don't want any detergent in my carpet, for one thing. I just want the boric acid out. 

After reading your article and the article linked to it by Cartwright last night, i see that i was misled by the relative harmlessness of using boric acid in cracks and crevices, i thought it would not be harmful spread all over my carpet, foolish in retrospect, but now it's done.  Now i know this is called the broadcast method, and it's not the method the manufacturer intended it to be applied by. 

Would an air purifier get that dust out of the air?   

I used to do yoga every morning, breathing deeply.  Now, i don't dare breathe deeply.  I want my home to be safe again.  I'm bummed out. 

Also, that vacuum cleaner i got was very expensive, but worth every penny since it seems to have helped to conquer fleas.  But i've vacuumed repeatedly since flea busters came, trying to get the dust out of the carpet, and every time i vacuum, there's more super fine white dust, and i'm afraid it's destroying my expensive vacuum cleaner.  I have washed the filter twice now and ordered a spare filter so i can trade off.  Normally those filters are only suppoed to need to be rinsed every 3 to 6 months. 

I just want to report that Flea Busters has been a nightmare for me.  Before they came, i searched the web, looking for feedback and reports of people who had used it and i only found positive stuff.  But i didn't use the right search terms.  last night i found your article and if i'd found it before Flea Busters, i would not have had them come.



                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
One other thing--when the Flea Busters guy was here, he told me that he was going to spray a liquid along my baseboards and in crevices.  I asked what the liquid was and he said pyrethrins.  I never wanted pyrethrins in my home.  i didn't want poisons spread around my home.  But i was in an altered state at that point, and i let it happen.  I just want to point out that their website and their phone people don't say anything about pyrethrins.  They imply it's just boric acid that they use, "a borate solution."  They tell you it's a dessicating substance that's less toxic than table salt.  Which sounded pretty innocuous and reassuring to me.  They don't mention any liquids, certainly not any pyrethrins.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
First, have a professional carpet cleaner come over and get that toxic gick out of your house!

Second, I would like to visit with you about the effects of DE on you.  Where did you put it?  How did you put it down?  Were you working the dust up?

It is unfortunate that you threw that dog thing away - a trip to the laundromat would have washed all the DE away.

Did you try any flea traps? 

I think that a good solution for you  might have been:  flea traps, daily vacuuming, DE in places the vacuum cannot reach (and where you aren't going to kick up the dust) plus a daily flea combing for your pets.  As time passes and the flea traps and the combing is not turning up any fleas, you can cut it all back to once or twice a week.


                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
will a carpet cleaner put detergents and things into my carpet that will be irritants or toxic chemicals?
Can i just clean it with water?   Natures Miracle enzymes?   I guess this will cost a lot?  I just spent $260 on Fleabusters including the borate solution, the pyrethrins and the nematodes.  There's no price on health, i will do it.  It's just depressing and upsetting.  I asked Fleabusters questions about how long it remains in the air. I was told just hours.  I imagine most people don't have this reaction.  It's probably because i smoked for 20 years, though i stopped 25 years ago.  I also smoked dope during my smoking years, including a bong.  Probably the bronchial tissue is vulnerable, though i am symptom free except after breathing fine dust apparently.

Do you think an air purifier would be of any help cleaning the air of fine dust?  I've never had one, dont' know much about them. 

I know that getting the boric acid wet will make it ineffective--maybe i could just pour water all over the carpet?  But i guess the wet dust will have to be sucked out, or it will just come back when it dries.

I started by putting DE in my dog's bedding, the pad.  I tried to follow the directions on the bottle, though it was somewhat ambiguous and i had to estimate--a little bit for ever several inches. I still have the jar, in fact i had so much hope and faith in it, i bought two.  Then i rubbed it in a little bit, i was standing over my kitchen sink.  I was t thinking as i put it on that it didn't seem like much, and i wasn't sure it was covering enough of the area to reach all the fleas.

The next morning my puppy was choking and coughing, and i was devloping an inflamed feeling in the upper respiratory area.   I took the pad out and beat it a lot while wearing a dust mask and put it back. I was sure i hadn't put very much in, though there continued to be more dust as long as i kept beating.  So many people were recommending it with instructions that seemed not so cautious so i wasn't too worried yet.  But then the inflamed feeling kept getting worse, and my dog coughed again in the morning.

i thought about washing the pad but was afraid there would still be dust in it that would come back after it dried.  no matter how much i beat on it, there was still plenty of dust and it was so fine.

I didn't use much DE.   In the little jar, the powder was still almost all the way to the top.  I don't know where i went wrong, but one reason i hired flea busters was that i have lost confidence (was never that high in the first place) in my own ability to do these things right.  Another example, despite research which led me to think Neem oil would help wiht fleas, later when i talked to a Neem oil company guy when i was trying to order some, he said it doesn't work on fleas. And it seemed irritate my dog a lot, it's got such a strong smell.   And then garlic and brewers yeast tablets, so widely recommended for fleas, i bought them at the health food coop.  Later, i read about risks wiht garlic and onions, garlic, not that high of a risk but when Zack got pyoderma and then his blood showed red blood cell abnormality, lower than normal, i had to think about that.  And i came to the conclusion i don't know what i'm doing and at first i t hought this was ok, trial and error, what's the worst that can happen?   But my dog was really sick, i had damage to my respiratory tract, hundreds of dollars in vet bills, mostly paid by insurance, but it was traumatic, time lost from work, etc.   So, i though, ok, boric acid is safe, i'll have it professionally applied.   So much for that idea.

After the DE in the bedding, the symptoms went away for both of us.

Later, just absolutely desperate not to use Frontline and poisons, a couple of weeks or 3 or 4 weeks later, i had researched DE some more. I really wanted to believe in it, i did believe in it, i trusted all my sources, they were all credible, i am sure it's worked well for them, with no harm.   

During that whole period, other things i was doing were, garlic/brewers yeast tablets, Flea Treat vitamin B tablets, Neem oil spray (once), water and vinegar spray many times, lots and lots and lots of flea combing, i had flea combs and glasses of soapy water all over the house, i got him a hair cut, i got a little electronic flea trap that had a little light, i followed the directions exactly. It may have caught one flea during the month or two i used it.  I certainly felt very incompetent and defeated. I'm sure there are other things i tried that i can't remember right now.

Even though i had that bad experence with the  DE in the bedding, i wanted to try it again, i was sure i did something wrong and i thought there was still hope.  i tried to research very carefully what to do.  Then, i put small amounts in my carpet, i was down on my knees, i didn't have a carpet rake, so i rubbed it in with my fingers.  I wore a dust mask and i had my fan blowing behind me to blow the dust away from me.  I left it on without vacuuming for however long my sources said, i don't remember now.  a day maybe.

I still got the inflammation later and was not able to conquer the fleas, and had to succumb to using Capstar and Revolution, to protect Zack from pyoderma relapse, it seemed.  But unlike this time with the Flea busters, the bronchitis went away pretty soon. 

I believe that DE works on fleas, i have no doubt. I just think my home environment was not right to get rid of fleas, too much clutter, i didn't have a good vacuum, and was way more lazy about vacuuming than i am now, i had someone come in and clean my place twice a month and that was it.  With my new vacuum cleaner, i love to vacuum, every day is fine with me, and i think that, and the decluttering i did, has made it easy enough for me to not have fleas, but that was monumental job that took months and a great deal of will and focus.

When Fleabusters came, he said he saw no sign of fleas.  Neither did i.  I flea combed Zack and saw no fleas or flea dirt. I should've cancelled them. I just didn't realize it was going to be harmful so i thought i was being extra sure.  Because, the week before the came, Zack had fleas crawling on him and he was scratching.  It wasn't like i could be sure things would stay OK with just the vacuuming.

I am wondering, is it better or worse to use a fan when applying DE?  Do fans blow the dust into the air, making it more likely to be breathed, or to fans help clean the air so breathing is better?   I think fans are helpful or not very harmful, but i'm less sure about vacuuming.  I vacuum almost every day and i'm wondering if it's the vacuuming that's stiring up the powder so that my symptoms keep coming back.  They get better during the night while i'm sleeping.  But when I'm out on my job, i have the discomfort off and on through out the day.

Maybe a humidifier would help to keep the powder out of the air?

One thing that seems hopeful is that after i vacuum and dust, new dust build up is not pronounced. It doesn't seem more than usual.   So maybe it's not in the air so much as, when i vacuum, it gets stirred up near the floor.  Or, maybe the original injury was so bad that it's just not going away.  I'm sure the dust is getting less.  I dont' feel the texture of it in the carpet on my bare feet as much as time goes by, and so much is coming out into my vacuum cleaner, by definition, it's being removed from the environment. I wish my symptoms would go away because it's scarig me, and i can't breathe deeply in my own home, not good. 

I appreciate your article and research a lot.  I have found very little to nothign else on the web to raise questions about the safety of FleaBusters.  Somehow, even though most people may not get the symptom i have, i do think my symptoms are like a canary in a cave, maybe i have sensitive tissue, showing that this stuff does get into the tissue, and as Cartwright said in his article, there are traces of arsenic in boric acid, safe used properly, but not meant to be applied in a way that causes constant direct exposure. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
carpet cleaning:  call around.  Borate is often used as a kind of cleaner.  The foaming of a detergent or soap might help to raise the gick out.  But I wonder if a water only steam cleaning might be best.  Call and ask the very questions you are asking here.

air purifier:  it will clean out the dust, but I think fresh air is your best bet right now.  Get rid of the toxins first, then see how you feel.

Pouring water all over you carpet is going to create all sorts of problems.  Don't do that.

DE dust:  When the fleas first showed up here, I put it my own bedding just to be sure.  I had gobs of it everywhere.  I then went to bed a n hour later and it did seem annoying.  The following couple of nights I didn't notice it much.  Then I didn't notice it any more.  I think the first few nights I kicked it up a lot as I got into bed. 

Now when I put down DE, I put it only on the carpet  where the vacuum cannot reach.  This is also where it just doesn't get stirred up.  It stays still. It does its job and it doesn't bother me.  I cannot smell it and there has been no bother to me.

...

Tell me about the "flea trap" you bought.  Is it one of those things with the sticky stuff in it?

....

I think one thing to keep in mind is the lifecycle of the flea.  Figure on four weeks.  That means you are going to keep seeing fleas nearly every day for four weeks from the day you start.  The trick is to try to make the lifespan of an adult flea so short that it dies long before laying a single egg. 

So you could be doing something that works really well, but you still see fleas. 

....

Do NOT use a fan when putting down DE.  You want it to go on the floor and not in the air. 

When you vacuum, open all the windows. 

I wonder if the irritation that you are feeling in your lungs now has to do with the borate powder.

...

I would avoid the use of a humidifier.  But if it makes you feel better, knock yourself out. 



                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
carpet cleaning:  call around.  Borate is often used as a kind of cleaner.  The foaming of a detergent or soap might help to raise the gick out.  But I wonder if a water only steam cleaning might be best.  Call and ask the very questions you are asking here.


The way i feel right now is, i don't trust anyone who's selling anything.  So, i just have to pick someone and go with them, i guess.   It would take time to try to call references and find people who really care about toxicity.  A lot of people mainly care about how clean the carpet will look and smell, i imagine, and don't care how it got that way.  How many people look into what chemicals are used?  I will ask, but chances are, when they tell me, i won't know what they're talking about.  However, you're totally right, it's all i can do, and if i'd asked FleaBusters more details about their ingredients, i would've known about their pyrethrins and would've said no.  Of course, then they would've said their guarantee wouldn't apply, but i could live with that.

I found a couple of carpet cleaners on line that advertise nontoxic, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, whatever that means.   

air purifier:  it will clean out the dust, but I think fresh air is your best bet right now.  Get rid of the toxins first, then see how you feel.


yeah, i was looking at some air purifiers, they're so expensive.  I just spent $500 on the vacuum and $265 on the FleaBusters.  If i don't need one, i have other things waiting in line for my money.   I looked on line to see if i could rent one some place but couldn't find anything.


Now when I put down DE, I put it only on the carpet  where the vacuum cannot reach.  This is also where it just doesn't get stirred up.  It stays still. It does its job and it doesn't bother me.  I cannot smell it and there has been no bother to me.
.

Yes, that makes complete sense.  It's like that guy who wrote the article on boric acid said, it's not black and white, you don't have to condemn any and all uses of boric acid.  There are safe ways of applying it.  After I get the carpet cleaned, I'll do the same.  And just keep vacuuming. I just hope my vacuum isn't ruined by all that powder. 

...

Tell me about the "flea trap" you bought.  Is it one of those things with the sticky stuff in it?


Yes, it looked just like this
http://www.biconet.com/pets/fleaTrap.html

....

I think one thing to keep in mind is the lifecycle of the flea.  Figure on four weeks.  That means you are going to keep seeing fleas nearly every day for four weeks from the day you start.  The trick is to try to make the lifespan of an adult flea so short that it dies long before laying a single egg. 

So you could be doing something that works really well, but you still see fleas. 


This has been weird.   My dog started scratching about a month ago, flea season.  I found them crawling on him, not really infested but like one flea at a time.  Not a lot of fleas.  I got the vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming almost every day.  He kept scratching and i planned to have FleaBusters come to take care of the fleas, but i wasn't quite ready with my home decluttering, so I gave him Revolution. I figured it would just be one time.  I don't have to give the cat anything, she doesn't scratch at all. Apparently the dog is a magnet for them. I haven't had a single bite this year.  For reasons i won't go into because it's irrelevant to this topic, for the first time, i wasn't able to put the Revolution on myself, and a vet tech put it on (if i did it myself, they would only sell me 6 months worth, the only way to get just one dose was to have them do it).  It seemed that the vet tech did it incompetently, at least he didn't do it anything like the company's website says to do it, and most of it got into my dog's long hair rather than next to his skin.  The scratching stopped for about three days and i thought it worked after all.  Then, he started scratching again and i found a flea or two on him.  It possibly was what you said, adult fleas jumping back on him from the carpet, but yet, when these products work, there is not that much scratching, even given the life cycle of the fleas, you see results.  His scratching was bad, he was suffering, he couldn't enjoy things, all of a sudden he would have to stop in the middle and start scratching.   So, then i scheduled FleaBusters, it was to be a few days later, and i gave him Capstar, which is really fast acting, all fleas dead in one hour, and short acting, only works for 24 hours, i thought that would help.  But after 3 days, he still had no fleas crawling on him.  He wasn't scratching at all.   I was starting to think this mighty vacuum cleaner and the daily frequency, combined with the Capstar wiping the existing ones out, was really an effective solution.  By the time the FleaBuster guy came, i was still not seeing any fleas, and after looking around the place, he commented that he saw "no sign" of any fleas.  I think it was because of the Dyson.  maybe it got a lot of the eggs out and various life stages, maybe it sucked everything out of the carpet? 

FleaBusters said that it would take 4 to 6 weeks for the product to have its full effect.   But i still have seen not one flea since a few days before FleaBusters came.  It's been a week and a half since they were here.  There is no sign of fleas. I flea combed Zack and no dead fleas or flea dirt came off in the comb or the hair.  just no fleas, zip.   

....

Do NOT use a fan when putting down DE.  You want it to go on the floor and not in the air. 


thanks. I was confused about this.  Maybe that's one reason why i've had so much trouble with the FleaBusters, the upper respiratory reaction, because it's the time of year when i'm having fans going a lot, and between that and the frequet vacuuming, maybe i'm just stirring it up too much.  Today, i religiously didn't vacuum.  I hope by tomorrow maybe i won't have that inflamed feeling.   

When you vacuum, open all the windows.


OK.  Generally that has been the case because it's summer and it's too hot to close them anyway. 

I wonder if the irritation that you are feeling in your lungs now has to do with the borate powder.


I have no doubt of it.   I never get that symptom, ever, even when i get a cold.  The only other time i've gotten it was right after the DE last year both times i used it (and i had the fans going) , and once at my office, there was some kind of problem, i don't remember what it was, maybe water from a plumbing problem, so they took this big fan and it was blowing all day, and i and my coworker both felt irritation from it, for me it was similar or the same (but not as strong) as the DE thing.  On my lunch break that day, i went to OSH and got both of us dust masks to wear, and we complained to administration.  those are the only times i've had this, and now, right after the FleaBusters, there's no doubt that has caused it.

I dont' know if the liquid pyrethrins could cause it. I think it's related to dust, dessicating dust.

I would avoid the use of a humidifier.  But if it makes you feel better, knock yourself out.


I would like to not use anything.  I got along before without air purifiers, humidifiers, carpet cleaners, etc.  and i was really happy at the thought that the vacuuming was apparently the main reason things were getting better--a truly nontoxic solution. 

tonight my dog wanted to play fetch and i started playing with him, and then i thought we better not because it was probably stirring up the dust and it was making him breathe hard and i was afraid it would be unhealthy to play.  Sad.  I just have to get it washed out and go back to Plan A. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
air purifier:  I think you should just let this go.  It's the warm season.  Freshen your air with fresh air.

DE:  I think that if you decided to bake five cakes a day and fling the flour into the air as you baked, that would cause the same problem.   

I just hope my vacuum isn't ruined by all that powder.


I would think it would be a very poor vacuum if was.  Isn't that what vacuums are supposed to be all about?  Vacuuming up dust?

flea trap:  I've heard of fleas getting away from some sticky stuff.  And those glues just seem stinky.  The water traps I use work great.  I wonder if the contraption you bought could have the sticky taken out and a little soapy water put in.




Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
Have you considered renting a carpet steam cleaner? Then you would know what was going into the carpet (presumably only steam).

I think I would rinse out the vacuum filter more frequently. Most vacuum cleaners will simply pick up the dust from the floor and fling it into the air. The filter should (hopefully) help with that issue. But I think you wouldn't want the filter to be filled up with borate or it would have a harder time retaining the new dust particles it picked up.
                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
Marilyn Queiroz wrote:
Have you considered renting a carpet steam cleaner? Then you would know what was going into the carpet (presumably only steam).

I think I would rinse out the vacuum filter more frequently. Most vacuum cleaners will simply pick up the dust from the floor and fling it into the air. The filter should (hopefully) help with that issue. But I think you wouldn't want the filter to be filled up with borate or it would have a harder time retaining the new dust particles it picked up.


Yes, thanks for the suggestion.  I am going to wash out the dust as soon as i can.  I have been rinsing the filter every one or two times i use it, but it takes 3 days to dry, at least, so i have gotten a second filter i'm using and have ordered a third one.  None of this was necessary before the Flea Busters.  The filter is supposed to be washed every 3 to 6 months.  I was getting dust before but it wasn't causing irritation at all.  But i have consistently gotten irritation from both FleaBusters/boric acid powder, and from DE.  By experimenting I've learned that the Boric acid is not causing any symptoms  just from living in the house (though i'm still afraid to do deep breathing with yoga)--i'm not getting any irritation from normal walking around the house day and night, or the dog running around, and the dog has not shown any symptoms, unlike when i put DE in his bedding and he coughed and choked and wheezed each morning for a few days.  But what i found was, i got the symptoms after emptying the vacuum canister in the backyard, into the trash can.  So that is apparently when the exposure is occuring.  The little white dust  mask i was wearing didn't help.  Last night i bought a respirator, which seals off the nose and mouth, and i vacuumed with all the windows closed, and then i emptied the canister, and came back inside and washed the canister and rinsed the filter, and will put the other filter in while it takes 3 days to dry.  anyway, either i didn't get any symptoms after doing this, or there was a very mild slight irritation that lasted about 2 or 3 hours, unlike the usual experience where it lasts a day or two.  The irritation i felt last night for a couple of hours might have been residual from the previous exposure.  In any case, it was much better or eliminated with that respirator.  so it seems the big problem is in emptying the canister. Last night after i dumped it in the trash can, i immediately sprayed the hose on it before i started banging it against the sides of the bin.  So much dust keeps coming when i bang it.  So next time, i'm going to not banging it out but just bring it inside and rinse out the canister and wipe off the part with the little holes on it with a damp paper towel.  But as soon as i can work my way to having the carpet washed out, that's what really needs to be done, and after that, hopefully things can get back to how they were before where i could empty the vacuum canister without causing any symptoms. Then i'll feel ok about going back to doing yoga and deep breathing in the house again.  Hopefully this week i can either have someone come in, or buy a carpet cleaner.  unfortuntely, i have a lot of other things that have to be done and only limited time.  It's all so new to me, which carpet cleaner to buy, does it matter? do i have to spend more to get one that works well enough?  i am reading user reviews on amazon.  Will carpet cleaners come out in the evening?  will the carpet dry?  it's all new to me.  What an ordeal.  I sure wish i knew before letting FleaBusters come in and transform my home into a toxic waste dump.
                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
I would think it would be a very poor vacuum if was.  Isn't that what vacuums are supposed to be all about?  Vacuuming up dust?


Maybe they aren't designed for dust that fine?  the regular dust didn't hurt me noticeably, while the Fleabusters dust is very irritating, and DE too--i'm just thinking maybe it gets deeper into my respiratory tract because of the size of the particles. 

flea trap:  I've heard of fleas getting away from some sticky stuff.  And those glues just seem stinky.  The water traps I use work great.  I wonder if the contraption you bought could have the sticky taken out and a little soapy water put in.


that's a good idea--but i threw it out when i was decluttering.  Anyway, there hasn't been any sign of fleas since a few days before Fleabusters came, maybe because of the Capster combined with powerful frequent vacuuming?  i wish i could get back to that idyllic state.  Hopefully after washing out the carpet.  I'm hoping the vacuum will be as strong as it was before. 





                            


Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 3
Hi Paul!  Love your site- just registered today.  After reading the
info., I
am wandering...  If I need to vacuum daily, do I have to throw the
bag away
each time? I read that the fleas can just crawl out. Someone said to
put 2
Tablespoons of cornstarch in the bag  Also, do you know if any
chain
stores( like Wal-Mart) carries the DE?

Thanks for your help!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
When purchasing DE, make sure it is food grade DE. 

Sorry, I don't think any chain stores carry it.  But it's cheap!

Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
I found DE in Lowe's Hardware store
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Was it food grade DE?
                            


Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 3
Do you know if I need to change my vacuum bag each time?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
If you vacuum up a little DE, you don't need to change your vacuum bag each time. 

                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
update:   
A couple of weeks ago, i talked to someone at Fleabusters who said he was the owner.  I asked what i should do about the irritation it was causing.  He said it wouldn't weaken the flea killing effect if i had the carpet washed. 

It's because the stuff is so persistent, once they put it in your carpet, at least in my case, there's no way to get rid of it.

I had someone come out and steam clean the carpet that same day, with steam and no detergent.

The problem was not improved.

I've vacuumed very frequently.  Vacuuming always causes the symptom of irritation. In between vacuuming, the symptom goes away.   Unless i do yoga with deep breathing, so i've quit yoga completely for now.  So now it just flares up if i vacuum.

It's a catch 22 because the only way to eventually get rid of it would be to vacuum about a million times, to get it out of the carpet pad where it is after you walk on it for a few days, it gets stamped down into the carpet pad and carpet cleaners don't clean your carpet pad because that would cause mold to grow.  So you can only get it out by vacuuming. but for some reason, every time i vacuum, i immediately get irritation in my upper respiratory tract that lasts 2 and 3 days, and really depresses me.

I talked to a guy at work, maintenance guy, he said he could replace my carpet pad, he said it wasn't a big deal.  So, i'm thinking of doing that.  But i read somewhere on the web that that can really stir up all the dust for a few days. 

i just want the air in my home to be safe and pleasant to breathe again. I guess an air purifier wouldn't be strong enough to eliminate this awful powder.

I called Dyson, my vacuum company, today, to ask about cleaning the vacuum. Normally, these are very low maintenance vacuums, you wipe them off every couple of months, they said.  But mine gets super dusty every time i vacuum.  I was told never to use anything moist in cleaning the cyclone, which is this silver thing with holes in it inside the canister.  I didnt' tell him but i have used a damp paper towel to wip the powder off.  He said that would ruin the vacuum.  He said you're supposed to blow it with compressed air.  But i dont want to blow it into the air.  the problem i'm having apparently is that it's dessicating. it dries out my mucous membranes in my upper chest and my eyes too.   I want it out of the air, not in the air.

When i told him i was vacuuming boric acid powder he said the vacuum isn't meant to vacuum up powder if it's very fine like talcum powder.  i'm no expert, i don't know if it's too fine or not, but he said if it's too fine, it will get into the hepa filter and will get into the motor and stuff.  So my new $500 vacuum that i got just to have a nontoxic way of reducing and eliminating fleas may end up being wrecked by Fleabusters. 

i keep wishing it would just settle down and wear off and go away but it's not. It's no better so far.   and i can't find anyone who can fix it. 

I called Michael Cartwright Sr, who wrote the article.  The secretary said she would have him call me but he didn't.  That was a week or two ago.  Today i left a message on their voice mail, just asking if they could tell me how to get this stuff out of my house. 

I also posted on an exterminators association web site. 

There is the problem that the usual anti-pesticide people who might want to help are defensive about boric acid.  It was very hard to find anything negative on the web about boric acid.  This site, Paul Wheaton's richsoil, was the first that i found.  and almost the only thing i found. 

About diatomaceous earth, i got it online, food grade, they have it at various online natural pet supply places. 

I had the same experience with DE that i'm having with boric acid, except the DE went away sooner, which i assume is because i applied it myself, by hand, so it wasn't that much, it was easy to vacuum up, whereas the boric acid was applied professionally and my carpet was saturated with it and then it has been stamped down into the carpet pad.  The company gives at least a one year warranty that it will be effective for that long, and i can see why.  The guy faxed me a written guaranty saying that i can wash the carpet by any method i want as many times as i want without voiding the guaranty.  so, that stuff is really in there.

I dont' think the boric acid itself is hurting me, i think it's just the fineness of the dust and the pervasiveness of it, and if i put that much DE in the carpet, i'd be having the same problem.  Used that way, DE would scare me too, i will never do that again.  There is a condition of the lungs called silicosis which means there is residual silicon powder in the lungs, the lungs cant' efficiently remove it (i was just reading an article about this in Whole Cat Journal online today while searching desperately for some kind of help) so although food grade DE is not as fine as pool grade, i would not mess with it myself.  I agree, putting it in out of the way places, under beds, behind furniture, is probably a good approach to fleas, but personally, i wouldn't put it trafficked areas. 

Frankly, at this point, what i will do in the future is (if i ever get the stuff out of my environment) is just vacuum every day or almost, and if my dog gets fleas, i'll give him Capstar and keep vacuuming.  I have gone through hell to try to avoid giving him those toxic medications, but they can't be worse than what has happened. Last year, i tried all the nontoxic things or alternative things, and they didn't work, the fleas apparently, according to the vet, were the cause of him getting such a bad case of pyoderma that he would walk three steps and then lay down on the floor, he couldn't go any further and then he broke out in huge grayish white lesions with red circles around them all over his chest, face, lips, nose, neck, back and legs, and had to take Clavamox.  Still, i wouldn't use the flea poisons, but when the pyoderma started to relapse my generally supportive vet said it would probably be better to give Capstar and then Revolution than to give another course of Clavamox. So, finally, i was defeated, but i thought that this year, i would first declutter my house, and then i would just vacuum every day, and i would use Fleabusters, i thought it was safe because i confused what Cartwright says is the appropriate application, in nooks and crannies, with the misapplication by the broadcast method. 

Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
paul wheaton wrote:
Was it food grade DE?

At the time I bought it, I thought it was. But on further inspection, I see that it is not. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Judy,

I have the solution for you. 

Can you return the vacuum? 

How do you feel about hardwood floors? 

I have decided to stick a label on your forehead:  "extra sensitive to dust" - sure the borates are way nastier than plain house dust, but the amount of trouble you are having is a helluva lot.  End your suffering.  Get rid of the carpet alltogether.  It just isn't good for you.



                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
Judy,

I have the solution for you. 

Can you return the vacuum? 

How do you feel about hardwood floors? 

I have decided to stick a label on your forehead:  "extra sensitive to dust" - sure the borates are way nastier than plain house dust, but the amount of trouble you are having is a helluva lot.  End your suffering.  Get rid of the carpet alltogether.   It just isn't good for you.






i don't think i can return the vacuum, it's been more than 30 days; also, i love the vacuum, it made me really happy.  i always hated vacuuming before.  it was quite a liberating empowered feeling, to  love vacuuming such that i could fight back effectively against the fleas in a way that wasn't harmful to me and my dog.

I always liked carpeting, it's soft.  But i've been thinking about having to take it out and get hardwood floors.  I like hard wood floors, if they have pretty carpets on them.   it's not really the carpet that's not good for me.  It's the contamination of the carpet by Fleabusters.  If i can't fix that, hard wood floors come to mind.

But there's several problems with that solution. For one, this is an apartment, it's a special apartment, a two story two bedroom apartment with a beautiful lovely little backyard full of lush green stuff, near the ocean, it's beautiful, and it's rent controlled, probably less than half market value, maybe less than a third, there's no replacing this place, yet it has a no pets clause and i have this dog, and a cat.  The manager knows about the dog (he doesn't know about the cat), other tenants asked him why i can have a dog when it's a no pets building, that's how he found out (he doesn't live here).

He didn't exactly tell me to get rid of the dog.  I am pretending like it never happened, i dont' talk about the dog and he hasn't brought it up again either. 

but so if i wanted to remove the carpet as a result of a flea treatment i got for  my pet, this would be very awkward to say the least.  Of course, i'd pay for it, but that raises another problem--to put in a hardwood floor throughout this whole two story apartment and then buy rugs, that would be a lot of dollars--and i was totally happy with the carpet i have.  I just made the fateful mistake of having Fleabusters put their stuff in here.  and it's too soon to know yet what that means--i'm trying to figure it out.  Does it mean i have to take the carpet out?  Does it mean i have to move?  Is there a more simple solution?  It's all new to me, i didnt' see it coming, Fleabusters doesn't put a warning label out there, "if you are sensitive to fine dust..." 

and you are right, i am sensitive to dust, not normal dust, but very fine dessicating dust.  I have used a dust mask when changing the silica litter in the cat box for years because i felt some irritation after breathing that dust, and then, irritation from the DE, and now the FleaBusters, i wish i had put two and two together.  I was at the dog park today and those dogs were kicking up lots of dust.  Clouds of it waft by, plenty of it gets breathed in, i've gone to the dog park countless times, breathed that dust countless times, breathed the regular house dust after vacuuming and emptying the canister, before FleaBusters, all with no symptoms, no irritation, but this fine powdery dust is not good.

It's not really bad irritation, it's more the idea that this stuff is not safe to breathe, pain is supposed to be the body's way of letting us know that something needs to be protected against or fixed.  I just am taking it as a signal.  I'm more worried about long term damage than the irritation itself that i feel. 

Was it you, or Cartwright, that was talking about the canary in the cave?  Maybe people who don't notice or don't mind or aren't sensitive to the dust are being harmed without knowing?   People who are sensitive, their alarms are going off, saying that something contrary to their nature is going on.   As Cartwright says, and i of course emphatically agree, dessicating powder is not supposed to be applied in the quantities involved in this 'broadcast' method which saturates  heavily trafficked areas, it's asking for trouble.

Today i read about this stuff, made by a company called Ecology Works, called Flea and Dust Mite Control, it's a liquified boron product which they claim requires a relatively small amount to be applied and dust in the air is avoided.  I dont' know whether it would be considered safer by Cartwright.  Here's what they say about Fleabusters, exactly my experience:

"This franchised application uses a crude form of boric acid. It has no label
for liquid applications and requires substantially larger quantities of borate powder that
results in excessive exposure and dusty application. Exposure to borate dust in mattress
and upholstery could cause breathing difficulties in asthmatics and sensitive individuals.
This is unlike The Ecology Works Dust Mite and Flea Control’s liquid application, which
bonds to fabric upon drying and thereby eliminates any dust problems."

billmakley.com/Makley=EcoWorks_Business_Plan.pdf

EDITED by moderator to disable dead link. JP


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
While it does emphasize the problems with the borate powder, I think there is still a problem with the borate as a liquid too.

Okay:  another idea ....    perhaps some carpet cleaning people are better than others.  Maybe the carpet cleaner you had out, was okay, but not really good.  Maybe a better carpet cleaner will get much more borate (and pyrethrin) out.

                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
While it does emphasize the problems with the borate powder, I think there is still a problem with the borate as a liquid too.

Okay:  another idea ....    perhaps some carpet cleaning people are better than others.  Maybe the carpet cleaner you had out, was okay, but not really good.  Maybe a better carpet cleaner will get much more borate (and pyrethrin) out.




I have had a, to put it mildly, difficult time finding anyone who knows anything about how to solve the problem of exposure to the fine particularate pollution of boric acid dust.  Today i did find the site of a woodworking guy, Bill Pentz, who has devoted a lot of work to helping woodworking people be more safe from the fine dust involved in woodworking.  I talked to him on the phone. He said he used Fleabusters too and that it was very troublesome for 2 months. 

He suggested that i could put a fan in my window that blows toward the outside, and creates a negative pressure in the room which will draw all the air from the other rooms, and pump it outside, which will help to get rid of the dangerous fine dust particles.  He said to use cardboard and duct tape to seal the area around the fan, to create as much suction as possible. 

he said vacuuming was important, to get rid of as much as possible that's in the rug, so it won't get into the air every time i vacuum, but he said it was also important to avoid exposure because the inflammation will cause damage, which is obvious to me from  how it feels.  So he suggested either I vacuum before i go to work in the morning, and leave that fan on all day, or, if i'm going to be home after i vacuum, i should keep the gas mask on for several hours because fine dust particles linger in the air for a long time.  Now i understand why the gas mask didn't seem to help before,  because i took it off right after i emptied the canister, while all that dust was still in the air.  But that mask is very uncomfortable.  it's hard to imagine wearing it for hours while relaxing around the house.  Maybe i can close off one of the upstairs bedrooms and relax up there while the fan sucks out the dust, and just put the gas mask on if i have to go downstairs. 

He also said that carpet cleaning is not such a great idea because when the dust gets wet, it becomes a solution and binds to the carpet fibers, and when it dries, it recrystalizes and this reworking of the particles causes them to become even smaller, their micron size is very small.  Then, they are more dangerous and damaging.   That could explain why it has seemed to continue to get worse (the symptoms) as time goes on.  It's still just a mild symptom, but i take it seriously because i'm used to not having any symptoms at all and i don't consider it a benign thing to be breathing particles that cause long term damage. 

No wonder the Fleabusters guy gave me a handwritten guarantee saying that i can have the carpet cleaned as many times as i want by whatever method i want without losing  effectiveness of the product for at least a year--it seems you really can't get rid of the stuff, once it's in there, it's in there. 

I'd be afraid to take the old carpet out because that would put much more of this hard to get rid of dust into the air, it might make things much worse. 

So, i'm trying to figure out how to do this fan thing.  My windows don't have any window sills so i'm not sure how i can get a fan to sit stable in the window, i might need to hire someone to  help me with this project. 

What's unfortunate is that the Fleabusters company seems to have no idea what to do about this problem. I've called them and emailed them, both the local guy who's company put it in my house, and the main company in Florida.  My calls to the local guy have not been returned.  Today, he had his wife calle me, not at the number i left (where i was, at my office) but at my home number, where i clearly told them i would be, so i got the message after i got home around 6:30, and she said he told her to suggest that i go to the hardware store and get a dust mask, wear it while vacuuming, and that should take care of the problem.  There is a communication problem here, i'm way past the gas mask idealism stage and i have learned that unless i wear it for hours, it's not going to do me any good.  The main company just forwarded my email and my questions back to the local guy, who i'm not able to speak with. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Have you visited the chemical sensitivies web sites? 

I visited http://www.debralynndadd.com/ a few weeks ago when searching for sites talking about organic flea control.  She has a book out called "Home Safe Home" and is very responsive on her web site.

Oh, and one last thing.  Are you familiar with "LD50" rates?  The idea is that you find the level at which a substance will kill half the mammals tested.  50% - hence the "50".  For boric acid, there are lots of reports ranging from 1g/kg (meaning that if a person weighed 100kg, and was exposed to 100grams of boric acid, there is a 50% chance they would die) to 5g/kg. 

The LD50 rate for DE:  none.  There is no LD50 rate for food grade DE.  It's considered edible.  I did read some stuff where it sounds like the tests were done, but no matter how much DE was pushed on lab rats, they couldn't kill half of them with food grade DE. 


                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
thanks for the link paul, i sent her an email today.
yes, i did come across those LD50 rates in the past couple of weeks of researching toxicology and stuff, but i am somewhat mathmatically challenged so i fell off the train of logic before it got to the end.  I get the idea though, i think.  I know that DE is supposed to be not only harmless but healthy, a detoxifier.  The first DE i got on the web was sold for that purpose, though i didn't realize it til i got it. The directions on it tell you how to take it for antiparasitic effect.  Nothing is mentioned about flea control.

My only problem with it is that apparently i'm sensitive to very fine dust.  Most people i talk to who have experience with it don't notice any effect from the dust.  My first experience with it was to sprinkle some on my dog's bedding, because i read somewhere on the internet that it was safe and advisable to do that.  The next morning, he was choking and coughing and i was feeling a mild but unwanted burning sensation in my chest.  I shook it out and beat it outside but so much dust no matter how much i beat, it seemed like a lot of dust was still coming out, so i put some new bedding in his crate, but i didn't wash out the crate, i thought it whatever was left could still help with the fleas. He was choking and coughing again the next morning, and my symptoms were worse too.  Then i washed out the crate.

So both of us are sensitive to the dust, but i apparently put too much.  Still, it was very little, or seemed to be very little, maybe a teaspoon. A little goes a long way, and i didn't know what i was doing, and i guess stuff like that is not my strong suit.  So, i thought ok, i'll have a professional do it, boric acid, whatever, better than Frontline.  but now i know i'm just really sensitive to very fine dust that stays in the air.  But my dog is not showing any reaction to the Fleabusters, i hope that means he's not harmed by it.

I still will probably use DE next year the way you described, just putting it under furniture and stuff.  What Cartwright says about the broadcast method (of boric acid) being a misapplication makes a lot of sense to me, what he says about what is and is not natural environmental exposure. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I'm gonna guess that your dust sensitivity might have other roots.  Heavy metal toxicity?  Other toxin exposure?  I wonder if you eliminated other toxins in your life, maybe the dust issue (and maybe the borate issue) would go away.

Just curious.  Nothing more.
                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
I'm gonna guess that your dust sensitivity might have other roots.  Heavy metal toxicity?   Other toxin exposure?  I wonder if you eliminated other toxins in your life, maybe the dust issue (and maybe the borate issue) would go away.

Just curious.  Nothing more.



well, probably so, i mean, if most people don't feel any sensitivity and i do, there's something idiosyncratic going on.  But i've run across a few people who say they also got irritation from it even though they, like me, are not sensitive to other things generally.  I am convinced, in fact i think it's a no brainer, that problems from environmental toxins/allergens are cumulative effects.  I totally agree, minimizing toxins in an environment can enable the body to deal adaptively with those that it is exposed to.

as for my own personal vulnerability to the dust, my theory has been that at least one component is probably that i started smoking cigarettes a pack a day at 15 and was up to 2 packs a day until i quit at the age of 33, and during most of those years i was also a heavy pot smoker, which is very harsh,  but i was so into it that if i got a cold or flu with inflammation of the respiratory system, i didn't stop smoking anything, i was such a fool, smoking while sick and violently coughing my head off, drinking cough medicine. it took a toll at the time, it was obviously a lot of trauma.  When i quit, in 1982, after that, i was very sensitive to second hand cigarette smoke, it really irritated me, i always got post nasal drip around it, and became sensitive to other chemicals too like perfume smells.  In the 90s i began avoiding toxins in my environment, i grasped that assaults to the immune system by allergens and toxins were cumulative, and even though i couldn't eliminate all of them, the more i could eliminate the better, so i only used certain cleaning supplies, ate almost only organic, organic whenever possible, only used distilled water, to give you an idea of how extreme i was, when i would photocopy things at my office, i'd walk as far away from the copy machine as i could get when i'd push the 'copy' button.  Just eliminating what i had control over.   Eventually, i stopped having sensitivities to anything--i mean, i still found strong perfume noxious, but i didn't get any symptoms of physical reaction (body trying to get rid of something).  I stopped getting colds and flu's, if i did get something, it only lasted a day or a few days, i didn't get lingering things.  Energy level went way up.  So undoubtedly for me, minimizing toxins and common allergens leads to general immune system strength and stability, resilience and efficacy.

so the reaction to very fine dust (not all dust) is unusual for me.   

But Cartwright says that boric acid is a good pesticide when applied properly, and says that the problem is with the broadcast application method. My experience seems to substantiate his argument.  If i didn't have a sensitivity, if no one did, then he would be seemingly wrong.  So his article resonates for me.  I never had any reaction when i used it for roaches at my other place, placed in out of the way nooks and crannies.  And i don't have any reaction to it now except when it's in the air--this seems to be what Cartwright is talking about--or am i misunderstanding him?

how would i find out if i have heavy metal toxicity?   is that something that can be detected with hair analysis?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My understanding is that borates are about a thousand times less toxic when used in a bait scenario.  Not really a good fit for flea control.

Heavy metals:  from what little I know, there are tests ... they will take your money and tell you the results, but the results are useless.  It's one of those things where you just do the cleanse for a while and see if it cures what ails ya. 



Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
Judy wrote:
I'd be afraid to take the old carpet out because that would put much more of this hard to get rid of dust into the air, it might make things much worse. 

I think it would only put the dust into the air while you were removing the carpet. Afterwards, it seems like the dust would have nowhere to hide and you could more easily get rid of it. But, as you pointed out, there are other reasons to try to avoid removing the carpet.
Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
paul wheaton wrote:
Heavy metals:  from what little I know, there are tests ... they will take your money and tell you the results, but the results are useless.

Useless is a pretty strong word. I think it depends. Hair analysis is definitely better than a blood test. But you want new hair, not hair that is a year old, and quite a bit of it, so you will end up with a bald patch to get the amount of recently grown hair that is needed. Some people have found these tests useful. Others have not. One person had all the mercury fillings in his teeth replaced as a result of his tests and felt much better afterwards.

It's definitely less expensive to try the cleanse first and see what results you get.
                                      


Joined: Sep 01, 2007
Posts: 2
[size=12pt]Thank you SO much, Paul for your article.  It was so informative and it really helped my resolve not to use the toxic spot products, oral medications and Flea Busters, etc.   Every time I take the "kids'" vet sees some flea dirt, I have to endure a lecture about how I should really put them on a flea program (oral meds., topicals, etc) and I end up halfheartedly defending myself, feeling a little guilty, and saying (lying) "yeah, yeah, I'll run right out and get all that"

Sometimes, I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't want to "nuke" every little bug in sight.  I have no problem killing things like fleas and Black Widow spiders that are a detriment to the puppies but why is it necessary to kill ALL spiders, and, for gosh sake, BEES??!!!  Sorry, I digress.

I currently use brewers yeast and garlic in their food, organic food grade DE, vacuuming and washing of rugs and bedding to control the fleas on my two mini-dachshunds.  They still have some fleas but rarely itch, chew themselves nor do they seem bothered by them.  One thing I did notice is that the fleas I find seem (I could be wrong) to be very young - not the big dudes that you just about gotta' hit with a hammer to kill.

I tried my own experiment with the DE to see how quickly it kills the fleas; I caught a few fleas and put them in a jar with a pinch of DE - all were dead within just a couple of hours.

Also, I think I'll be storing away the area rugs (after dusting with DE) for the very worst part of flea season as an extra control measure.

Again, thank you for the article - and the link to this awesome forum!  Debra Lynn Dadd is great, I bought one of her books years ago when I first started getting interested in non-toxic alternatives to everything.

Judy, my heart goes out to you.  I hope things get better for you SOON.

~Stephanie


Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. 

~Cree Indian Proverb
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
bubblemama wrote:

I tried my own experiment with the DE to see how quickly it kills the fleas; I caught a few fleas and put them in a jar with a pinch of DE - all were dead within just a couple of hours.





Stephanie,

I've been meaning to do this experiment for ages.  But I am without fleas at this time, so I have no fleas to test on. 

Thanks for this report.  This is excellent information.  I'm gonna push it right out to the web page.

                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
bubblemama wrote:
I tried my own experiment with the DE to see how quickly it kills the fleas; I caught a few fleas and put them in a jar with a pinch of DE - all were dead within just a couple of hours.


Hurray for our side.   Did they have little air holes in the lid?   


Judy, my heart goes out to you.  I hope things get better for you SOON.

~Stephanie



thanks for the sympathy stephanie.    This is one of the all time worst experiences of my life.   

i dont' know what is causing the problem, all i have are theories and i don't have any solutions so far, and it's scary, to have my bronchial tubes burning off and on all the time.

I had reported this to the government and this guy has been investigating, and i talked to him a week ago and he said he interviewed the guy who came out to my house and put the Fleabusters here, and he said the guy flat out denied putting any liquid in my home.  So, something is really wrong.  This wasn't the normal Fleabusters application. This guy who contracts with them did something wrong which he is now denying. 

He had this canister and he told me it was liquid and he was going spray my bathrooms and under my beds and my furniture.  I asked what it was and he said pyrethrins.   There is nothing about this on Fleabusters website, or when you call them on the phone and ask about it, they never mention any liquid, and they don't mention pyrethrins, which i didn't know anything about but i did know it was a poison and i had rejected it in the past.  When he was here, i felt troubled when he said pyrethrins but i thought maybe it's just a small amount on the floor that you can wash out--i was trying to rush around and cover my electrical cords because he said the cords would be "eaten" by the dust if i didn't.  When he finished, and i came back into the house from waiting outside, there was a big wet mark on my sofa, where you sit, and also on the skirt by the floor. I assume all my furniture had been sprayed, that's what he said he was going to do. I told him my sofa slip cover was not supposed to get wet, i couldn't believe he had gotten my sofa wet, i was afraid it would stain, but it didn't.  and he was confident about that.  I paid him and he left, after applying nematodes to the backyard, which he did on the side for less money than the company charges.

I started having the burning sensation later that day. 

Two weeks later it was still there and i called the company and asked what was causing it and what i should do.  The owner said it would go way in time. I asked about them using pyrethrins and he vigorously denied that pyrethrins could've been used.  He said if pyrethrins had been used, i would've had to sign a consent to use poison in my home and he would have to file papers with the state, and my records didn't have that so therefore, pyrethrins could not have been used.  He said that the liquid that was used was a liquid form of their powder, which they put on furniture and hard floors. 

Now, i find out the guy is denying putting liquid at all when he really did. 

i talked to the owner again, weeks later, after many many calls and an email to him that were not returned.  Finally, when i called, he took one of my calls. he said it was a mystery, what was causing my symptom, it didn't make sense, maybe it was this, maybe it was that, but he never suggested pyrethrins, and i had been so focused on the dust being an irritant that i had not been thinking of the pyrethrins because i had read that they break down fast, in hours or a couple of days.

But now, in the past week, i've been reading about pyrethrins and now i know, first, that they do cause a burning sensation in the upper respiratory tract in some people, they are a known upper respiratory irritant, and i know now that they break down fast in light and heat, but under my bed is dark and cool so maybe it's still there, offgassing, poisoning me. Also, a synergist is used with pyrethrins that makes it last longer and makes it more potent as a poison, it's called piperonyl butoxide.  It's a known carcinogen. I dont know.  Maybe it's still in my chair that i sit in every day and every night.  The symptom comes and goes, it's there more than not, but sometimes it clears up, and it's usually not there when i first wake up in the morning.

I saw a lung doctor yesterday.   He concurs that this symptom should have gone away, unless i'm still being exposed.   He said there's no doubt that whatever they put on there, caused this problem.  He seemed to be thinking along the lines of who should be responsible for the problem.

The Fleabusters owner said he wanted to help me find out what was causing the problem and that he could come out to my house and test my air.  He said he wanted to think about what he could do to figure out what was going on and he would email me in a couple of days.  that was at least three weeks ago and he never did.  I had requested a refund because their guarantee said that you should be satisfied or money back, but he didn't want to give me a refund because although it had caused me a serious chronic health problem, he only wanted to give me a refund if i was having fleas.  So i filed a dispute of the charge with my credit card company.

I'm no closer now to knowing what to do to solve the problem than i was before--short of either moving from my precious home that i used to love, or getting rid of my chair, my $1500 sofa, my $1200 love seat, perhaps my CA king sized bed, and the bed in the other room which is also a high quality mattress belonging to my daughter.  I don't want to do that just as an experiment that might not work.

Anyway, when i first posted about this, i was sure it was the boric acid dust that hurt me, but now i'm not sure.  It might be that the guy who came out was acting on his own without Fleabusters approval to use the pyrethrins, and it may be that that's what has caused the harm. and it may be a combination.  I used to sit on the carpet at the foot of my bed and do yoga in the morning in the sunlight with very deep breathing, holding in the breaths--maybe i injured myself when i did that on the days immediately following the application.  Maybe the dust irritated the tissue and made it more penetrable to the pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide.  All i can do is guess.   All that matters is that it's not going away and that i don't know what to do to fix it.

I can do holistic healing things, in fact i have an appointment with my nutritionist for Monday, she helped me detox in the past,  and i'm seeing a chinese herb guy i was referred to on Tuesday who says he often treats chemical injury.  But if i'm still being exposed, nothing is going to help much.  That's what my doctor said when i saw her weeks ago, she said it was not allergy, it was chemical irritant pneumonitis and the main way to get over it was not to go into the place where the exposure is.  but it's my home.  so i couldn't really get my head around that.
                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
Marilyn Queiroz wrote:
It's definitely less expensive to try the cleanse first and see what results you get.



What's the cleanse?
                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
Marilyn Queiroz wrote:
Useless is a pretty strong word. I think it depends. Hair analysis is definitely better than a blood test. But you want new hair, not hair that is a year old, and quite a bit of it, so you will end up with a bald patch to get the amount of recently grown hair that is needed. Some people have found these tests useful. Others have not. One person had all the mercury fillings in his teeth replaced as a result of his tests and felt much better afterwards.

It's definitely less expensive to try the cleanse first and see what results you get.


Are some hair analysts more reputable than others?  I wonder if it could give indisputable evidence that i've been exposed to pyrethrins or piperonyl butoxide, in case i need to go to court about it.  i was reading about hair analysis just now, apparently in addition to the medically unaccepted unconventional uses there are some uses that are considered legitimate by the conventional medical people. I was reading a site from a critic/debunker, but even he said there are a few usages that are accepted.
Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
Judy wrote:
What's the cleanse?

I'm not sure of the details. I've never done it myself.

Rather than repeat things here about hair testing, please read this thread.

I think that hair analysis is usually used for heavy metals. I haven't heard of it being used for chemicals like pyrethrins or butoxides.
                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
thanks Marilyn.  That's interesting. 

Is there a thread about The Cleanse?

Last weekend, i went out of town for three days.  I didn't have the burning sensation in my lungs the whole time i was gone.  It returned within an hour of coming back into my apartment. 

When i was out of town, i was at Motel 6.  My "nonsmoking" room was filled with cigarette smoke. Apparently it was from the people next door, 3 guys and a woman, lots of smoke coming from there, the doors aren't insulated.  Leaving my door open for an hour and running the fan in the room seemed if anything to make it worse, that's when i began to think it wasn't from a former tenant of my room but from outside.  But although i slept in second hand smoke all night, with a heavily scented air freshener, i never got any hypersensitivity symptoms, no burninng in the lungs.  breathing diesel exhaust on the long 5 hour drive from LA to the Bay Area, inland on the 5, no symptoms.  Just when i got back into my apartment, it started up again, the burning.  It was July 23 that they dusted and sprayed here and it's still exposing me, and i dont' know where it's coming from, washing the carpet didn't help. The guy sprayed my furniture with pyrethrins, according to him, so apparently i now need to get rid of all my furniture.  I have a guy coming Monday who's going to take dust samples, and another guy is coming some time in the week to take air samples.  Hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and not at all sure where the samples should be taken from, maybe it will be all for nothing.  This is probably the most miserable thing i've ever been through in my life.  For some reason, that company could come into my home and destroy it and they aren't even held responsible.  It's my problem and i can't figure out how to fix it. But the next step is to try testing the air and dust to find out if there are any pesticides, other than boric acid.  If so, then i have to get rid of all my furniture that he may have sprayed.  And no way of knowing if that will work either. I'm going to have a disaster restoration company come out and clean everything. I dont' know if they will. I got their name from the dust sample guy.  I called another carpet cleaning place to arrange having them wash the carpet under my bed where pyrethrins may be, but they say they don't move furniture. But maybe these restoration people can do that--for what?  $1000?  $2000?  More?  Will it work?  Nobody knows.

During the time after Fleabusters came out to my home, all of a sudden i kept finding all these dead house flies on the bed in the spare bedroom, next to the open window.  I thought that was weird but didn't associate it with Fleabusters.  I had had so many dead bees in my backyard and had learned that it was a worldwide phenomenon, i thought the dead flies were somehow related to that.  But then, a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me, maybe the dead flies are caused by whatever Fleabusters put into my home.  I looked up flies and pyrethins on the web and found that pyrethrins is the common poison used to kill flies.  So i'm thinking it could be related.  The dust sample guy said if there is enough pyrethrins in my home to cause the flies to die like that, then there is a major problem. 

The air testing guy called Fleabusters to see if he could get a clearer idea of what was used by them in my home.  The owner told him the applicator didn't have a license to buy pyrethrins so it seemed unlikely to impossible that he would've had any to use. But the air test guy, who was referred to me by the UC Irvine School of Environmental Medicine, said that the Fleabusters guy told him the applicator may have used Precor.  Precor is a commercial pesticide that includes some pyrethrins and an IGR.  So i dont' know what he means if he says the guy could've have used pyrethrins but might have used Precor.

It sounds like the Fleabusters guy was more candid with the air test guy than he was with me; he even gave him his cell number.  But he never returned my many calls.  One of the two times he took one of my calls, he said he had the capability to come out and test my air and he  would get back to me in a couple of days. that was a month ago and he never got back to me. 

The county Dept of Agriculture guy who's investigating my complaint took 4 samples from my bathrooms.  Still waiting for the results. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Wow!  Actual testing!  I am really looking forward to the results!

                          


Joined: Jul 31, 2007
Posts: 22
paul wheaton wrote:
Wow!  Actual testing!  I am really looking forward to the results!





might be next week.  problem with these tests is that he tested in the bathrooms and if it's pyrethrins, they break down in light and heat, rapidly, i have read.  but at least it's something.   When i realized later that the guy had sprayed under my bed and on my furniture, i asked the county inspector to come out and test under my bed, since it's dark and cool under there, so the pyrethrins would have a better chance of still being there. but he said no. 

a major problem is that there are a number of possibilities of what it is causing the injury and each one requires a different test--I think.  The man told me he was going to spray pyrethrins.  Then the owner told me that was impossible, the man made a mistake, he would've sprayed liquid boric acid.  Then the man told the county inspector he didn't spray any liquids at all. 

Then, the owner told a guy i was consulting with about air testing that the man may have used Precor.  Precor doesn't have pyrethrins, it has pyrethroids, including permethrin, but the various air and dust test people i've talked to say that there are different tests for pyrethrins and pyrethroids.   Permethrin doesn't rapidly break down and go away, it persists, possibly forever, and i would have to throw away my furniture, my bed, the carpet.  So it makes a big difference which one  it is.  If pyrethrins comes back negative, i won't know if it's not permethrin and vice versa. 

meanwhile, my lung tissue can't be doing too well with repeated flare ups of inflammation, and i'm extremely depressed a lot of the time, i want my life back, where i don't have to be thinking about this all the time, where there's no escape, no solutions, no help, no answers, just losing my health and losing my home.  all because those people but something harmful in my home, and they are not responsible because there's no proof they did anything other than what they were supposed to do, unless tests show otherwise. 

I've been talking to two other air testers and a dust tester.   The first air tester was going to test for pyrethrins and it was going to cost $700.  Another guy, referred by UC Irvine, found out about the possibility of Precor and checked with the lab to get the price for me.  He said it was $250 for the permethrin test which is a 4 hour test, and $375 for the pyrethrin test which is a two hour test.  His fee is $150 an hour from the time he leaves his home.  The $150 an hour is also charged while he's writing his report.  So....$2000?  not sure.   

Then another guy said dust testing is better because air testing is dependent on what's in the air at that time, while dust testing gives a history.  I had him come out Monday and he took several dust samples, and took photos of the dead flies on the bed and other things.  He said he would get back to me after calling some labs to see how much the tests would be.  Their website says they test for pesticides, so i was surprised he didn't have more of an idea of the lab costs.  I paid him $278 to take the samples.  He called later and said one lab said they wouldn't do it at all, another lab said they would do it but he needed bigger samples, they needed 30 grams of dust, he only had gotten one gram, per test.   The tests were $140 each for 3 tests.  More costs for the report writing.  2-3 weeks to get the results.  The other lab he talked to said $500. 

On their website it said you could get a verbal report in 24 hours, i think that was for an extra fee.  but i have looked at lots of environmental hygienist websites and made calls, and most of what they do is mold testing or removal, and nobody knows anything about pesticides.  I asked the $700 guy for references and he said he "didn't do much pesticide work," and didn't have any but did give me a reference for a guy he tested for e.coli from. I had no idea so little was known about pesticide exposure and damage and removal.  now i know.  It's part of the nightmare.

The guy asked me for the number of the county guy so he could ask him about what lab he used.  I talked to the county guy the next day and he said he had returned the guy's call and left a message but hadn't heard back from him a day later.

I asked the $150 an hour UC Irvine air testing guy about dust testing, i told him i was talking to this other guy who wanted to do dust testing.  The guy said no, dust testing wouldn't work for this. This was after i paid the dust testing guy $278 to take the samples. 

but the air testing guy, who added that he is a board certified industrial hygienist, didn't say why it wouldn't work, he was abrupt about that.

On the web, i've found lots of mentions and instances in research where dust testing for permethrin and other pesticides was done, including abstracts in PubMed comparing dust and air testign and saying dust testing is effective.

I've called Beyond Pesticides and the National Pesticide Information Network, trying to find out if dust testing is ok, no one knows, and no one knows who i could talk to for authoritative dependable information.   The county guy who is testing the swabs from the bathroom said he doesn't think a separate test is needed for permethrins or pyrethriods, he thinks his lab guy told him one test covers everything.  But he wasn't sure.  He doesn't know.  He's going to ask his lab again to make sure.

i was referred to a chinese herbalist who gave me some herbs, the whole thing cost $250. I took the first dose of the herbs and it brought on an intense episode of the burning sensation, it had been a good day before that.  He said it had an herbal antihistamine in it.  That just dries out my body, i was drinking so much water that day, and wishing i could breathe in some cool mist. And i felt lousy all over.   So i haven't tried those $250 herbs again.

I'm so depressed becuase i can't get good information in order to know what to do, everything backfires or doesn't work. 

I was told if it's permethrin or pyrethrin, i have to throw away my furniture.  But i dot' know.  I don't want to throw away my furniture if i don't know whether there is a real reason for it or not.  i love my furniture.   not cheap either.   but when i try to have the tests done, i dont know if anyone knows what they're doing, and it's so expensive.  If only i could have confidence in any of these guys--but apparently nobody has expertise in pesticides, including the experts. 

I called advocacy groups related to pesticides and asked if they had some contact information on other people who have been through this, so i could find out what they did to fix it.  But there is no such information.  i did find someone on the Chemical Injury Information Network who said that i am sitting on a time bomb and need to have the testign done to find out if i have to throw away my furniture.  She said if it's just the boric acid, i'm in good shape.

I would like to pay somebody to come in and fix it if i could just find someone who knew how, i would go into debt forever, i just want my home back and my life back.  but i can't find anyone know knows, and i have to spend lots of money just to experiment without even knowing.  I need for the guy who sprayed to tell me what he sprayed and where he sprayed it, but that's not going to happen.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think it is time to talk to a lawyer.

 
I agree. Here's the link: http://permies.com/battery
 
subject: organic war on fleas!
 
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