Total release foggers, sometimes called "bug bombs," are pesticide products that spray out all at once. They are used to control cockroaches, fleas, and other insect pests. Most foggers contain pyrethrin or pyrethroid pesticides, plus aerosol propellants that make a fog that fills the room.

Can I get sick from using a fogger?

Foggers can cause illness in people and pets. Breathing fog can result in nose and throat irritation, difficulty breathing, coughing, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, or allergic symptoms. Contact with skin and eyes can also cause irritation. Serious eye damage can occur if foggers discharge directly into a person's eye. Exposure usually happens when people don't leave their home immediately after starting the fogger or come back too soon.

Who is at risk for serious illness?

People with asthma or other respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and reactive airway disease, are at risk of serious illness. Foggers can trigger asthma attacks or other severe respiratory reactions, requiring emergency care.

Infants and children are at greater risk for pesticide exposure because they spend time near treated flooring and put household objects in their mouth. They are more sensitive to the toxic effect of pesticides because of their developing bodies and brains.

What should I do if someone is exposed to pesticide fog?

Providing the product name and EPA registration number can help your healthcare provider determine the proper treatment. The EPA registration number is usually written in small print near the first aid information on the label.

Can foggers really explode?

Fogger ingredients are highly flammable. Fires and explosions can happen, typically when too many foggers are used. A flame, pilot light, or spark from an electrical appliance that cycles on and off, such as refrigerator or air conditioner can ignite fumes triggering an explosion or fire.

Are foggers effective against pests?

Foggers don't work when trying to get rid of bed bugs and other insects that hide. Foggers only treat exposed surfaces where the pesticide lands. If the pest is hiding under furniture or in cracks, it can avoid contact with the pesticide. Pests also build up resistance to pesticides. The best way to control pests is to use integrated pest management. Pests may be difficult to control on your own - consider hiring a professional pest management company if you need help. Choose a company that is licensed and insured, has experience controlling the target pests, can provide references, and uses integrated pest management techniques.

Bed Bugs

  • Getting rid of bed bugs can be a challenge. Learn how to prevent bed bugs from entering your home and how best to control them if they do.



If I use a fogger, how do I avoid problems?

Always follow directions on the label. The label information tells you how to use the product safely.

Bug bomb measurement example.

Never use more foggers then recommended. Foggers come in different sizes. Often foggers are sold in multi-packs with each can able to treat an area of 5,000 to 7,000 cubic feet. Most bedrooms however are less than 1,000 cubic feet. Before buying, figure out the volume of the area you plan to treat. Then read the fogger label to find the closest match for your space.

To calculate the volume of a living area, multiply the length, width, and height of each room, and add the room volumes together. Example: A 10-foot by 12-foot room with a standard 8-foot high ceiling has a volume of 960 cubic feet (10 x 12 x 8 = 960). See EPA Foggers Safety: Do not use more foggers than necessary (video).

Turn off anything that might cause a spark: Pilot lights, gas fireplaces, unplug electrical appliances. Always place foggers a least six feet away from gas or electrical appliances. Don't use foggers in small, enclosed spaces, such closets and cabinets or under counters or tables. It may cause the product to explode. See EPA Fogger Safety: Keep foggers away from ignition sources (video).

Be ready to get out! Prepare by removing toys and uncovered food. Once the fogger starts, leave the area and close the doors. Get everyone out, including pets. Stay out until the time stated on the label has passed, usually two or four hours. See EPA Fogger Safety: First, read the label (video).

Notify family members and neighbors. A sign on the door warning that the home is being fogged will help prevent accidental exposure. It will also alert the fire department should the fogger trigger the fire alarm.

Before you go back in, air out! When you return, open doors and windows to air out remaining fumes. If there is a strong smell, air out longer before staying inside.

Store foggers safely. Foggers are not child-proof. Once started, the fogger will continue until empty, and cannot be stopped. Store foggers up high or in locked locations, out of the reach of children. Teach children not to play with foggers and other pesticide products.


Bug Bomb Brochure (PDF)

Integrated Pest Management

EPA Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers

EPA Bed Bugs: Should I Use a Fogger?

Content Source: Pesticide Program