Are Pesticides Safe? A Response to ‘Phosphine pesticide used to kill bedbugs causes Fort McMurray baby’s death’

Bed Bug on Skin

Sad News and a Wake Up Call for Canadians

You may have heard some very sad national news earlier this week about a mother in Alberta who while trying to kill bedbugs with illegally imported pesticide accidentally poisoned her 5 children, killing her 8-month old baby and leaving her other 4 hospitalized children in critical condition. You can read CBC’s coverage of this story here: Mother using phosphine pesticide to kill bed bugs causes Fort McMurray baby’s death

*Update February 27, 2015: The second youngest child in this family, a 2-year-old boy, has also died due to exposure to the highly toxic phosphine tablets.

This is an extremely unfortunate situation. As a team member of Advantage Pest Control Inc. I feel obliged to comment on this, although it is a truly difficult subject to discuss.

Government Regulations Serve a Purpose

What I would first like to emphasize is the importance of learning from this so that similar mistakes are avoided in the future. Most importantly to note, pesticides, especially potent ones such as phosphine gas and other strictly regulated chemicals, are not to be handled carelessly, and government regulations of their use are not to be taken lightly. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada and the Ministry of the Environment (in Ontario) regulate such chemicals so that they do not cause harm to people, animals or the environment. Therefore following these regulations is not an option, it is the law. Such laws have been put in place in order to protect everyone after all, and a lack of knowledge and research on such matters can prove deadly, as demonstrated in this recent occurrence in Alberta.

In this particular case, the use and application of phosphine legally requires a licensed fumigation professional. This is important. Under Ontario’s Pesticide Licensing System, not all exterminator licenses cover fumigation.

Therefore, I sincerely urge everyone to do their research when it comes to any kind of pesticide.

The Best Pest Control Solution

Alongside your research, the best solution to a pest problem is hiring a reputable pest control company to take care of it. A reputable company will have highly experienced technicians who are fully licensed exterminators. They will handle all chemicals safely and in accordance with government regulations.

Here at Advantage especially, our number one priority is to offer quality pest control that is safe for everybody. The first thing our technicians ask when they arrive at a customer’s home is, “do you have any kids or pets?” Safety is extremely important to us. For example, when treating mice and ants, even without kids or pets, we always place bait stations in safe and inaccessible places around the home. In fact we always practice careful consideration of the environment and specific conditions with all pests.

On the opposite end of the quality spectrum, cheap costs can result in some very unfortunate incidents as many already know. It is usually more of a waste of money to hire a cheap exterminator whose credentials are questionable anyhow, as results are usually reflective of the service cost. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Therefore hiring a qualified pest control professional is the best way to go.

What about those who cannot afford professional pest control services?

Be Smart, Be Safe, Educate Yourself

If hiring a professional is not within your budget, make sure you educate yourself on any and all DIY pest control products you wish to use before using or even purchasing them. Do your research. Make sure any pesticides or non-chemical products you use are legally available to the public, and make sure you carefully read and follow all label instructions exactly as written. Do not take a risk when it comes to your health and well-being, as well as that of your family, pets, neighbours, and environment. Life is too precious to be wasted due to a lack of awareness. Therefore, ask questions, educate yourself and pass on this message to others.

We Are Here To Help Everyone

On our part, our pest control specialists here at Advantage are always willing and happy to answer any questions you may have or offer any advice you may need regarding pest control, even if you do not purchase any products or services from us. We are a family-owned company and so we care about you and your family.

So if you ever have any questions regarding any pest issues, please do not hesitate to call us at 416-840-4040

or email us at

Our specialists are available to speak to you every day from 8am to 8pm ET.

Together, let’s help prevent incidents such as these from happening again and help pest control be practiced as safely as possible in Toronto, the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada, and eventually around the world.




Advantage Pest Control Inc. © 2015


Please also read: Health Canada Warns Canadians Not to Use Unregistered Bedbug Control Products


Bed Bugs, A Prevailing Problem in Toronto

Bed bug

Have you ever heard of the Bed Bug Registry? It is a free, public database of bedbug sightings in Canada and the United States, with reports dating back to 2006.

Looking through some of the approximately 2270 bed bug reports in the Greater Toronto Area, one may be surprised, shocked and perhaps even appalled at the number of these reports, and some of the stories that accompany them. As a new member of the Advantage Pest Control Inc. team, I know I certainly am. I have read more than just a handful of bed bug infestation horror-stories from all around the city of Toronto, and as all well-informed professionals will agree, this issue is only getting worse.

Bed bugs have and continue to spread throughout the GTA in increasing numbers year-round. This is not only a serious issue that needs to be addressed, but one that needs to be tackled much more responsibly by all those involved.

One major issue in many bed bug infested Toronto residences is the landlords’ outright refusal to deal with the infestation. So many reports are from traumatized tenants who have done everything they could possibly do on their own to help with the issue, and still their landlords refuse to follow through with their legal obligations of hiring an Ontario licensed pest control service provider. (See Bed Bugs Infestations – Rights and Responsibilities in Ontario, as outlined by the City of Toronto’s Public Health department.)

Some landlords and property managers do take some action, but not adequately or quickly enough to actually get rid of the infestation. As such, infestations in buildings only get worse, spreading from one unit to many others, causing even more people to suffer the stress of a bed bug infestation. With the infestations continued to be left untreated, the living conditions for affected tenants can become unbearable. This is especially saddening for those who simply do not have the means to deal with their infestation or move into better living conditions. One must remember, if an entire building is infested, even if one unit is treated, re-infestation is bound to happen. Bed bugs are highly mobile, great at hiding and can survive up to one year from one feeding alone, so treating one unit while leaving an adjacent one untreated will not eradicate the infestation for long. Bed bugs are undeniably difficult pests to treat.

Even more unfortunate is that for many who do end up moving from their bed bug infested residences, if they are not careful enough, they end up bringing the bed bugs with them to their new residence. This is one way bed bugs continue to spread throughout the city.

Another unfortunate fact is that many people unknowingly and even knowingly bring in infested furniture that has been thrown out, further contributing to the spreading of bed bugs. Many individuals are uninformed about bed bugs and so it is common for thrown-away and infested furniture (that has even been clearly labeled to have bed bugs) to be picked up by passers-by within a day.

Therefore, more awareness and knowledge of how bed bugs live and spread is also incredibly needed.

With that mentioned, one cannot say landlords are all to blame. Indeed, some landlords are honest people who wish to provide their tenants with good living conditions and as such follow their legal obligations of hiring an Ontario licensed pest control service provider who offers thorough bed bug treatments. In such cases, bed bug infestations still reoccur or are never eliminated in the first place due to tenants’ lack of preparation and cooperation. This is also very unfortunate, further showing the many accompanying issues that come with Toronto’s bed bug problem.

When resolving any problem, cooperation from all parties involved is essential. This is especially imperative when treating a space for bed bugs.

This includes the pest control companies and technicians that offer the bed bug extermination services as well. Everyone involved in treating for bed bugs must do their part in order for treatment to be successful, and as much as landlord and tenant cooperation is important, pest control service providers must also offer quality service.

And since bed bugs are extremely difficult to eradicate completely, not all pest control services are alike.

This is why at Advantage Pest Control Inc. we offer integrated pest management including heat treatments for bed bug infestations. In fact we offer an integrated approach when treating all kinds of pests. Customer satisfaction is our number one concern. We understand how difficult it is dealing with a bed bug infestation and we want you to be bed bug free!

So if you or a loved one are currently dealing with a bed bug problem, do not hesitate to call us at 416-840-4040. A bed bug specialist will be happy to speak to you and book a service as early as within 24-48 hours. The earlier the treatment after detection of bed bugs, the better! (with sufficient preparation of course)

Until next time, don’t bring in any furniture off the street, and stay pest-free!

Toronto Bed Bugs – A Division of Advantage Pest Control Inc. © 2014

So… Your Friend Has Bed Bugs

It happens more often than you think. A friend calls you up to tell you that they have contracted bed bugs and have to get treated in the next couple of days. Here are the top 5 things that you can do to prevent yourself from getting bedbugs from your friend.

  1. Don’t panic! Anyone can get bedbugs. It doesn’t have anything to do with how dirty or clean your home is. Bedbugs are attracted to human blood. Being supportive of your friend during this difficult time will help make this a less dramatic experience for your friend.
  2. No sleepovers! You shouldn’t stay at your friend’s house or have your friend stay at your house until the bedbugs situation has been dealt with.
  3. Laundry! Any clothing or bed linens in the home that may have come into contact with your friend or friend’s home should be washed and dried on high heat.
  4. Protect your bed with a bed bug proof mattress encasement. This will minimize the amount of places that bedbugs can harbour in your residence. We also recommend boxspring encasements and pillow encasements.
  5. Bedbug monitors such as the bedbug defender are useful in early identification of bedbug infestations. Each bad in your home should have these monitoring devices on them to allow for early detection.

Advantages to Bed Bug Remediation

Heat treatments are being used across North America for the treatment of bed bugs. What are the advantages to this treatment? How does this treatment differ from other treatments in the past? I hope that the following information will answer these questions.
Key Advangtages:
  • Provides several options for Integrated Pest Management. Chemical-free solutions to bed bug elimination are also available.
  • Bed Bug Remediation kills every stage of bed bugs including eggs, larvae and adult.
  • One service only is needed in most cases and is completed within one day.
  • We offer discrete and professional services.

By raising the temperature of the entire house or occupied area (apartment or office) to over 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat will kill all stages of bed bugs. The amount of time needed to kill bed bugs is dependent on the temperature used (higher temperatures kill bed bugs faster).

We can use this process in many different locations (such as houses, apartment buildings, industrial and commercial locations, confined areas and even for spot treatments). We are not limited in the areas that we can treat due to the properties of the heat treatment.

Heat kills all stages of the life-cycle of an insect including the eggs, larvae and adult stages. This means that generally we only have to perform one treatment and that re-occupation of the home by the owner can occur within hours of the treatment. It also means that all bugs are dead upon completion of this service.

If you have any further inquiries on this procedure please contact our service department at 416-840-4040