Choosing a Pest  Control  Company
      IFYOU HAVE a pest control problem that you do not
      want to handle on your own, you may decide to turn
      to a professional applicator. How can you be sure
      that the pest control company you hire will do a
      good job? Before you choose a company, get
      answers to these questions:
       I Is the company licensed? Most
         state or local agencies issue state pest control
        licenses. Make sure the pest control operator's
        license is current if one is required in your state.
        Also, ask if the company's employees are
        bonded, meaning that the company reimburses
        you for any loss or damage caused by the
        You may want to contact your state pesticide
        agency to find out about its pesticide
        certification and training programs and to ask
        whether periodic recertification is required for
        pest control operators. In addition, possession of
        a city license—where they are issued—is one
        more assurance that the company you are dealing
        with is reputable and responsible.
       j Is the company willing and
       J able to discuss the treatment proposed for
        your home? Selecting a pest control service is
        just as important as selecting other professional
        services. Look for the same high degree of
        competence you would expect from a doctor or
        lawyer. Any company, including those advertising
        themselves as'' green,'' should inspect your
        premises and outline a recommended control
        program, including the following:
         •Pests to be controlled.
         •Extent of the problem.
         •Active ingredient(s) in the pesticide chosen.
                                    • Potential adverse health effects and typical
                                       symptoms of poisoning associated with the
                                       active ingredient.
                                    •Form of the pesticide and application
                                    • Nonchemical alternatives available.
                                    •Special instructions to reduce your exposure to
                                       the pesticide (such as vacating the house,
                                    emptying the cupboards, and removing pets).
                                    • Steps to take to minimize your pest problems
                                       in the future.
United States
Environmental Protection

O Does the company have a good track
  Don't rely on the company salesperson to
  answer this question. Research the answer
  yourself. Ask neighbors and friends if they
  have ever dealt with the company. Were they
  satisfied with the service they received? Call
  your state or local pesticide regulatory
  agency or local consumer office and find out
  if they have received complaints about the

4 Does the company have appropriate
  insurance? Can the salesperson show
  proof on pa per that the company is
  Most contractors carry general liability
  insurance, including insurance for sudden
  and accidental pollution. Their insurance
  gives you a certain degree of protection
  should an accident occur while pesticides are
  being applied in your home. Contractors may
  also carry workmen's compensation insur-
  ance, which can help protect you should one
  of their employees be injured while working in
  or around your apartment or house. Although
  most states do not require pest control
  companies to buy insurance, you should
  think twice before hiring a company that is
  not insured.
D Does the company guarantee its work?
  You should be skeptical about a company
  that does not guarantee its work. In addition,
  be sure to find out what you must do to keep
  your part of the bargain. For example, in the
  case of termite control treatments, the
  company's guarantee may become invalid if
  you make structural alterations to your home
  without giving prior notice to the pest control
D Is the company affiliated with a profes-
   sional pest control association?
   Professional associations—national, state, or
   local—keep members informed of new
   developments in pest control methods,
   safety, training, research, and regulations.
   Members agree to honor a code of ethics.
   The fact that a company, small or large,
   chooses to join a professional association
   signals its concern for quality.
   You and the company of your choice should
   develop the contract together.Your safety
   concerns should be noted and reflected in
   the choice of pesticides to be used. These
   concerns may include allergies, sensitivities,
   age of occupants (infants or elderly),
   resident pets, and treatment near wildlife
   and fish. Wise consumers get bids from two
   or three companies and look at value more
   than price. What appears to be a bargain
   may warrant a second look.
If you hire a pest control firm to do the job, ask
the company to use the least toxic chemical
method available that will do the job. Ask to see
the label or Material Safety Data Sheet, which
will show precautionary warnings.
Hiring a company to take care of your pest
problem does not mean your job is over. You
must evaluate the results. If you believe some-
thing has gone wrong with the pesticide
application, contact the company and/or your
state pesticide agency. Be a responsible, wise
consumer and keep asking questions until your
pests are under control.
For additional information on pesticides, visit To order copies of our publication,
Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety, call 1-800-490-9198.  If you have questions about
pesticides, call the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.