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Common Pesticide Questions

Can bug bombs really explode?

Antonio was fed up with cockroaches taking over his home so he decided to declare war and get rid of the pesky little insects. Antonio developed his plan of attack and placed nine bug bombs (i.e., foggers) throughout his 2000 square foot, two-story home. Antonio set the foggers off and then joined his wife and two young children in the backyard. While pushing his daughter on the swing, a large explosion occurred and a fire broke out in the utility room of their home.

Don't put your family or your home at risk! Click here to learn why the explosion occurred, how to prevent this situation from happening to you, and how to determine the number of foggers to use.

Take Home Message

Antonio did NOT read and follow the label directions on the foggers (or bug bombs). According to the instructions, he should have used two foggers instead of nine based on the size of his home (see below for calculations). This increased the amount of flammable vapors in the air (i.e., vapors that burn easily) and increased the risk of an explosion and a fire. Antonio did not turn OFF the pilot light for the water heater in the utility room and the flame ignited the vapors, causing the explosion and fire.

Labels provide important information about the proper use of pesticide products, so please Read The Label Carefully - It's the Law! Do NOT use more foggers than necessary and turn OFF all ignition sources (e.g., pilot lights, open flames, or sparks from electrical appliances that cycle on and off like refrigerators or thermostats). Refer to the label of the fogger for complete instructions. Also, see EPA's fact sheet on Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers.

Look for the graphic symbol for fire on product labels and the hazard warning statements; e.g., "This product contains a highly flammable ingredient. It may cause a fire or an explosion if not used properly."

Remember, using too many foggers may not only increase the risk of an explosion or a fire, but may cause residents to become sick. To learn more about how to reduce your risk of getting sick, refer to NPIC's Common Pesticide Question: One or Three? Too many foggers can hurt me.

Cubic Feet (volume of living area) = Width x Length x Height of each room. Next, add the volumes of all the rooms together. Labels for most foggers state that no more than 1 ounce of product per 1,000 cubic feet should be used. Read the label directions - do not use more foggers than necessary.

Example: Antonio's home is 16,000 cubic feet (2000 square foot home with 8 foot ceilings). If label instructions say to use 1 ounce per 1,000 cubic feet, then 16 ounces of the product will be enough (16,000 cubic feet ÷ 1000 cubic feet = 16 ounces). If 1 fogger holds 8 ounces, then 2 foggers should be used (16 ounces ÷ 8 ounces = 2.0 foggers). Unfortunately, Antonio used 9 foggers (or 72 ounces) instead of 2 foggers. Once a fogger is set off it will release its entire content.

Consider contacting the manufacturer of the fogger for detailed information on its use, including how many foggers to use.

Related Topics:

What are pests?

Learn about a pest

Identify a pest

Control a pest

Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?





Natural and Biological Pesticides



Other types of pesticides

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