HELP!!! I used pool grade diatomaceous earth ALL OVER my room(28 posts)
I heard DE was really good at killing bed bugs and I knew the pool store sold it so I bought a whole bag and probably spread 1/8 of the bag around my room. Like a lot of diatomite. After I did this I decided to find out how it was actually killing them and discovered that you should not use Pool grade stuff, but the damage is done. It's all over my appartment.
What should I do? I'm feeling pretty sick today also. I threw up earlier.
Uggg I don't know what to do.
Oh no! I've read on here that the best way to clean up the powder would be with a damp cloth, so you don't make it airborne. Make sure to use a respirator and goggles while cleaning it up.
Hope you are ok! Good luck!
Don't have time to write a novel, taken 10 minutes to write this sentance, but look up the MSDS sheet for clean up details.
Don't do jack squat without a P-100 respirator and goggles.
Unfortunately MSDS doesn't seem to have section for pool grade. Should the described cleanup procedure still be the same?
Also If I was exposed to the room for lets say 1 hour tops, should I see a doctor?
Look up "crystalline silica", as that's the ingredient you're concerned about. As it's used in lots of substances (like floor patch, for one), there should be info out regarding exposure and cleanup. Or, contact a poison control center.
MSDS for crystalline silica: https://louisville.edu/research/cleanroom/msds-library/Silica.pdf
Nice MSDS for it. I couldn't find one as good as this.
Please read the whole thing but key things...
Spills: Use dustless methods (vacuum) and place into closable container for disposal, or flush with water. Do not dry sweep.
Wear protective equipment specified below.
Do not breathe dust. Use adequate ventilation and dust collection. Keep airborne
dust concentrations below permissible exposure limit (“PEL”). Do not rely on your sight to determine if dust is in the air.
Respirable crystalline silica dust may be in the air without a visible dust cloud.
Local Exhaust Ventilation: Use sufficient local exhaust ventilation to reduce the level of respirable crystalline silica to
below the OSHA PEL. See ACGIH "Industrial Ventilation, A Manual of Recommended Practice" (latest edition).
As was said damp clean up methods are ideal but if vacuuming in required you MUST use a HEPA equipped vacuum. Do not believe a high efficiency bag will suffice. Without a seperate HEPA filter it doesn't count.
Don't do anything without ventilation and that
air-purifying full facepiece respirator equipped with N-100, R-100, or P-100 filter(s).
i'm thinking you might want to see a doctor. From what you posted, it doesn't seem like nausea is one of the symptoms of exposure to this chemical...but just in case you're pregnant or have some other health issue, if you were a loved one of mine, i would want you to get checked out.
I second Deedle's opinion. The risk from DE (even pool grade DE) is respiratory and that mostly from chronic use (though precautions are always good). Even if you ingest it, which is unlikely, you shouldn't be experience nausea because this stuff isn't poisonous.
And go easy on yourself. Over-spreading DE is such a common newbie mistake it's almost a rite of passage for BB fighters.
So just vacuum the stuff up if it's on carpet (with as good a filter as you can get). If you have access to a ShopVac that might be preferable because it might wreck your domestic vacuum cleaner. If you wear a respirator that would be good and then you can leave the room after you're done to let everything settle or ventilate out. If it's on hard flooring, mop it up with water.
Then you can do research to see how to do this properly. And if you have carpets, there might just be enough traces to mess with the BB's.
If your problem is that extensive....
I would wear the protective equipment as suggested and use a rug shampooer.
That way you know that the stuff is completely out of the carpet. Water will also help to negate the irritant properties of the DE. Also, most vacuum cleaners seem to throw up a lot of dust and so will perpetuate the problem.
As an added bonus a good rug shampooing will be beneficial in fighting the BB. You can then use the food grade stuff.
Keep in mind that DE is an irritant. It is not generally noxious... You should not be throwing up. Did you use anything else to get rid of the bugs??
Don't forget that there are 2 kinds of Diatomaceous Earth and people posting on here are giving clean up measures for one type that doesn't necessarily apply to the other. They are not interchangeable.
Easy to say it isn't poisonous (either crystalline or amorphous), but the crystalline shape may affect stomach membranes differently from the food grade kind-- remember it isn't meant to be digested either. Inhaling - and you don't have to see it for it to be airborne - is not great, worse for the crystalline form. Inhaling also can make you swallow it as well. People are speaking about it generally not being noxious but you are really referring to an amorphous silica, the food grade one. People have ended up in the ER due to inhaling the "relatively safe" food grade DE. Relatively safe food grade refers to ingesting it - that's why it's food grade (food is eaten, not inhaled). Crystalline grade really doesn't work to kill insects, it's not good to leave it around because it really doesn't work for what you want it to do and it's not good to inhale even if for a short time. It may have been inhaled while applying, too. It's not a rite of passage of BB fighters to have trouble with DE, especially the wrong kind of it to start with.Professional consulting entomologist/arachnologist in all matters dealing with insects and arachnids.
I did not say that it wasn't poisonous-- I said that it wasn't noxious. There is a huge difference between something that is noxious and something that is poisonous. Silica Earth miners do face an increased mortality rate from exposure (in the form of lung cancer)-- but this is because DE is an irritant. Any aspirant of this nature should be used with caution and appropriate protections (coal dust for example has similar risks-- as does cigarette smoke). In a wide sense, any aspirant of this nature is potentially toxic (without necessarily being poisonous or noxious).
Also I was certainly careful to distinguish between food and pool grade-- suggesting that the OP use the food grade after cleaning up the pool grade stuff.
Why do you think Lou is talking to you? Actually, it was Eve who said it wasn't poisonous...
Don't jump all over our LouBuggs, HuntFor... Let's watch our tone of voice with him. We all treasure him and he was reminding us that there are two types of that chemical and that clean up would be different for each.. ...so let's take it easy and gentle with LouBuggs...okydoky? Thanks.
I did not think that I jumped on anyone. I was simply stating the difference between noxious and poisonous-- I read the post as factual in content and judged it necessary to clarify my point. I also did not perceive any reason to watch my tone of voice with him. He does not seem to be overly sensitive or particularly fragile and I was merely stating an issue with the fact that noxious and poisonous are not really the same thing. Why make it personal? Why can't I respect him enough to simply state my point in a direct manner rather than treat him like he is such an emotional basket case that he will be devastated by even the smallest and most impersonal disagreement with his post?
Okey dokey? Thanks.
I'm not going to argue with you HuntFor 'cause i get the idea that you're cruisin' for an argument and i'm not going to entertain you on that.
I'll just say that it was clear that your response to LouBuggs was based on your faulty impression that he was responding to your post. You said: "I did not say it was poisonous..." He did not say that you said it.
Also...another indication that you felt you were defending yourself against an illusionary challenge of you in the post by LouBuggs was when you said: "Also I was certainly careful to distinguish between food and pool grade-- suggesting that the OP use the food grade after cleaning up the pool grade stuff."
You say that you had a disagreement with Lou Buggs: "smallest and most impersonal disagreement with his post?" I don't see what LouBugg's post contained you could have possibly disagreed with...
Anyway...i'm glad that say that you do respect him. He doesn't have to give us his time and input and we certainly want to treat him with all the respect that he deserves. I don't think that there is anyone here who thinks he's an emotional basket case....emotional basket case? Where did that come from? So when you treat someone gently and with respect, measuring your words, that's only when you think someone is an emotional basket case? Something wrong with that logic.
But i'll sign off now. okydoky? thanks!
I found an MSDS sheet for pool grade DE at:
There are more stringent warnings than with the food grade DE, but all it says about ingestion hazard is: "Short-term exposure not considered harmful. Drink generous amounts of water to reduce bulk and drying effects." That makes it vaguely unpleasant to ingest but it does not make it poisonous. It also does not seem the sort of thing that would actually cause nausea. However, fear that one has injested something poisonous does induce nausea. In other words, noxious is not the same as poisonous.
And as for cleaning, the suggestions are the same: vacuum or wet mop. A good mask would be really advisable (I think I suggested it above).
As to how common the misuse is: unless this is the very first resource you run into (and it certainly wasn't for me) what one encounters in searches about what to get to fight bed bugs by oneself are lots and lots of DE sites. I don't think it's helpful to beat up on someone when they do the "if a little is good, lots must be better" thing. Once they figure it out, they're beating themselves up enough. I know I did though at least I was lucky enough not to have it done to me personally on these boards (because I didn't mention it).
Whatever Deedle. Suit yourself. I do not want a fight. I simply do not like to be told what to think, say or do-- and I especially do not like it when people start quarrels where none exist. If lou does not like my post-- he can tell me himself.
Regardless, I do think that the dangers of DE are generally overstated in these forums. I am curious as to how many healthy (in that they do not already have compromised respiratory systems) people are hospitalized with acute DE exposure from a normal use of the product. I could not find one instance listed in any medical or industrial database (although this does not mean that it has never happened) of people suffering from acute toxicity from food grade DE. Chronic disease however has been established caused by pool grade DE-- due to the processing of the substance (turning silica to cristobalite-- which when inhaled can cause nasty lung problems-- which is why pool grade DE is considered toxic)
The EPA gives the highest risk of DE and even this is classified as slight. I still would not mess around with it too much, but I do wonder why DE is generally considered especially dangerous amongst forum participants while other chemicals with an established track record of toxicity are deemed to be somehow more acceptable.
This does not mean that it is safe..... and I would certainly protect myself against inhaling it and would keep it out of my eyes. However, when compared to Clorox Bleach, a product many people use every day it is positively benign.
Just some food for thought.
P.S. I see your point Eve... You can't un-ring the bell. The OP was asking for advice on how to deal with the situation and had already realized his/her mistake. No one can go back in time and not make a mistake. I personally used DE and found it to be a good way of combating my bugs. Of course, I still had the exterminator come in, but the DE did stem the flow of bugs into and out of my apartment. It is good stuff when used judiciously and correctly.
We don't "overstate" the potential hazards of DE over here. We urge use of PPE and to not treat it like it is totally harmless.
Sadly the OP made a terrible mistake by spreading pool grade DE and needs to take care of themselves then address the spill.
In this scenario the precautions that should be followed with food grade DE are not optional but required.
FWIW a shop vac typically has a lame low filtration filter. Some have optional HEPA filters that can be bought and used. The Rigid makes at Home Depot have the on some models, and only a HEPA equipped vac should be used in this case., NO EXCEPTION!
I'm a National Certified Pool Operator (yes, licensed to handle both types of DE ) and have worked around pool grade DE for the better part of 20 years. If that means anything to anyone this is what I do for a clean up.
I start with a jump suit, chemical gloves, goggles, and a respirator. If in a pile, I carefully dampen the top surface (think spray bottle misting) and clean it up with a dust pan and hand broom. Really kind of like a push motion to get most of it without disruption.
Vacuum with a hepa filter vacuum and then wash the area down with soap and water. If you have a steamer-vac, you can use that for the clean up. Home Depot rents the Rug Doctor if you want to look into it. Most people may think the stuff mentioned above is over kill (protective clothing etc.) but its always best to over do it them under do it. Acute exposure with some simple protection measures should be fine.
Be safe .... good luck
oh and for the mess I was reading above ... people call me all the time telling me they got sick from using DE incorrectly (today in fact from an old client I did an inspection for a year ago). Forum readers are not generally going to hear what doctors or PCO's hear from the public on a regular basis.
95% of people are using DE wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KQ: And people wonder why pros are not heavily in favour of DIY bed bug treatments ...
It is NOT because we are worried that we will be out of business ... It is because we worry about the health and well being of those in and around the treatments. Not to mention in a vast majority of the cases the bed bug infestation is exasperated due to misapplication.
Think of microscopic shards of glass... When you think of DE.
I am trained to remove asbestos... KQ is right about the necessity for wearing a good respirator and proper eye protection... when we are applying or removing a substance like DE that can be made airborne.
Personel that apply or remove a dust are exposed to 100s of times more exposure after the dust has been disturbed and becomes airborne... than a normal occupant with a proper application.
Damp removal methods are preferred.... Use of water spray and damp paper towels for hard surfaces... or the Rug Doctor wet vac for carpeted areas... are sound approaches.
If you use a HEPA vacuum... Try to insure that the filters are tightly fitted and are true HEPA filters... HEPA filters should be rated for 99.7% of particulates down to 0.3 microns... Some companies use the term loosely... You can buy high efficency bags and true HEPA filters for a Rigid or Shop Vac... Use of a poorly filtered vacuum will make the problem worse.
Outdoor ventilation should be used, if available... Window fans are suggested... Fans should be pointed in an outdoor direction... This will reduce the ambient dust levels in the room.
Thank you, Doug and KQ, for the suggestion of the Rug Doctor for lifting this stuff. My carpet needs cleaning anyway and this would be the perfect way to clear it in a single step. I know I can rent one at Zellers.
I know the Rug Doctor isn't hot enough to kill bugs, but at least it can't cause any harm. Can it?
A wet vac like the Rug Doctor is not well filtered... The water is your dust control...Be sure to wear eye protection and a proper respirator mask (P100 rated filter... not a dust mask) with adaquate ventilation for maximum safety.
You can purchase a respirator online,... at stores like Home Depot... Lowes... or an industrial supply like ARAMSCO (ARMSCO website click here)
An MSA brand mask is $12.55 and P100 filters are $7.96 a pair...It will cost about $25 -$30 in a store.
Some bugs and eggs may be vacuumed up in the water... Physical removel should be helpful
Find an experienced PCO to help you eradicate the bugs safely and effectively... The do it yourself approach is full of pitfalls... Your health is worth the expense.
DougSummersMS - 1 hour ago »
Find an experienced PCO to help you eradicate the bugs safely and effectively... The do it yourself approach is full of pitfalls... Your health is worth the expense.
I know you mean well. I really do. But a PCO requires that I move all of my furniture two feet from the wall. I'm taking first steps by replacing my bedroom furniture in a way that lets me do that.
But I dread to think about the health consequences of my attempting to move this big library unit I have single-handedly (no I don't have help available). A moving team put it there, a moving team is going to have to shift it when I move out. I will hire a moving team when I move and not before.
Jeff White's video here: http://tv.bedbugcentral.com/index.php/2010/07/bed-bug-preparations/ makes a very important point. And his video does not begin to capture the enormity of what is required by the local firms I have contacted. The bagging of stuff made of cloth is almost trivial because I don't have much of that.
Not only am I expected to prepare the bedroom (a doable task because the only furniture there is the bed itself (no headboard, or nightstand, or dressers). But I have to prepare my living room which is my library/study. Moving library shelves away from the wall is impractical because the wall is either supporting or providing safety (books are arranged so that the shelves would fall toward the wall if the worst happened). In a few cases, the PCO requires that I take off all the outlets, and some others also require I remove the baseboards (something I'm not sure I'm allowed to do). It's like there's a competition of who can write the most rigorous prep sheet.
And, yes, all this has to be taken care of by me before the PCO will come in ... with his hoses to spray the place down. If I'm lucky I can talk to the great man (to date I only get to talk to front office staff). When I bring up my concerns about the shelves, she goes back and asks and tells me "All you have to do is move them two feet from the wall". And I don't even have *any* evidence that the bugs are in my living room! All the stuff I read about "do what your PCO tells you" is moot if they won't talk to you directly about why they do things the way they do.
Someday, the PCO industry locally will develop the sophistication to provide more targetted approaches and/or provide apartment prep services (like they have in Toronto). But that time isn't now. But until that happens, I can only do what I can do and for now that is DIY.
Thanks for the help and kind words everyone. I didn't see any of the posts about a HEPA filter before I cleaned it up, but this is what I did do.
I got two P100 resperators and I used my normal vacuum while my roommate used a wetvac to clean up all the visible dust. We put a fan in the window because we noticed that the vacuum was kicking up dust. After there was no more visible dust around we took damp paper towels and wiped down everything. I did a few more quick vacuums of the room after cleaning it out because it was covered in dust inside and out at this point.
It seems like the stuff is mostly gone, or at least to the point where I don't notice it anymore. My girlfriend is pretty sensitive to dust and she didn't seem to be bothered much after we cleaned it up.
I'm now waiting on the food grade DE to come in the mail.
Just to clear up ....
In my post I was just pointing this out, didn't really chastise anyone, just general statements in response to many posts. I didn't quote from certain posters, people were confused as to whom I was referring. I simply posted information regarding DE and that people shouldn't confuse the pest control type and the pool filter type because they are not the same and are not interchangeable with respect to use. Pool filter grade DE doesn't even work against insects. The word non-toxic is often applied, maybe as a selling message, but it doesn't mean that it really is non-toxic, especially if not careful. And because they are different materials, sometimes cleanup may be more modified in one way or another. The mechanism of action on insects is not necessarily sharp edges and glass-like but can be abrasive, however, the action of it by absorbing the lipids from the insect cuticle thus allowing moisture to escape is how it excels in insect control. One would think that a crystalline shape should slice and cut, but not with respect to insect cuticle. I was pleased that Doug, KillerQueen, Spideyjg, Sean and others explained reasons for not taking overexposure so lightly even with something that so many people think of as non-toxic. The problem is that the misuse of pool grade DE will continue and this conversation will probably be repeated when it occurs again and unfortunately the person who suffers from it might never read these posts. A series of correct DE posts might be good to have out in the public view before new bed bug sufferers ask the questions again before being able to read about it first.
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