Q. January and Alan ask: We have an upstairs bathroom floor with termites -- and a history of asthma in the family. A termite inspection has confirmed the need for fumigation, yet we are hesitant due to the onset of asthma in a brother after he had his home fumigated.
We've contacted the pest control company that has pioneered the use of nitrogen in freezing out termites from localized home infestations. Do you have information on this method? All we have is promotional material from them and would like to be sure of its reliability before spending any money. Your comments would be appreciated.
A. You are among the growing number of homeowners who are seeking less toxic alternatives to the conventional methods of dealing with household pests. According to Sheila Darr, executive director of the Bio-Integral Resource Center, a nonprofit organization formed in 1978 to provide practical information on least-toxic methods for managing pests, the effectiveness of the liquid nitrogen method is not as well documented as some of the other alternatives.
According to Darr, one of the most effective and least-toxic alternatives is one with the use of heat. This is a system wherein propane space heaters blow hot air through ducts into a tented structure raising the ambient temperature to about 150 F. That brings the core temperature of the wood-framing members to about 120 F, all that is required to slay those little varmints. In addition, the heat is not harmful to humans or to the structure or its contents.
It might, however, be a good idea to remove all your old Tony Bennett albums and any electronic equipment susceptible to damage by heat. Technicians also warn that candles or thin sheets of plastic should be removed.
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