Is Termite Tenting Dangerous for Neighbors?

Termite tenting is one of the most effective termite treatments out there. As the name suggests, with this method, the termite-infested home is covered by a large ‘tent’ and then pumped full of fumigant gas. This gas will seep through every nook and cranny of the home to kill termites. But the question is, isn’t termite tenting dangerous for neighbors, especially because it involves the use of a potentially harmful gas? Yes, it can be dangerous. But it shouldn’t be if done right…

How termite tenting can be dangerous for neighbors

  • Termite tenting involves potentially harmful chemicals. The fumigant gas used for termite tenting has ingredients that are potentially harmful to humans. The most notable of which is sulfuryl fluoride. Termite tenting is a heavily regulated industry. But still, there are reports about the side effects of sulfuryl fluoride exposure. You can experience difficulty in breathing, coughing, and vomiting. In the worst cases, you can even die.
  • The chemicals can also harm your pets and plants. Humans are not the only ones who can suffer from side effects. After all, we are talking about chemicals that kill termites. The fumigant gas for termite tenting can harm animals and plants. Household pets can experience convulsions or seizures. And house plants can suffer from drying or death. House plants are especially vulnerable. Sulfuryl fluoride is more than 4,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And since your house plants have everything to do with carbon dioxide, they are especially at risk.
  • The chemicals are released to the atmosphere after the termite treatment. During termite tenting, the pest control professionals will wrap the termite-infested home with thick tarpaulin. This is why the process is called termite tenting. The home is wrapped like a tent. After the termite treatment, the pest control professionals remove the tent and basically release the fumigant gas into the atmosphere. And this can be a problem because traces of the gas may find themselves to the neighbors.
Termite tenting can be dangerous for neighbors, but it doesn't have to be.
Private property undergoing fumigation. Image source: Matthew Field Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

Why neighbors should not worry

  • Only trained and certified professionals can perform termite tenting. The government regulates termite tenting because it involves potentially harmful chemicals. This means that pest control professionals need training and certification. Without these, they won’t be able to perform the service to their clients. This is why neighbors shouldn’t worry too much when they learn that a home in their neighborhood will undergo termite tenting. It’s very likely that the service will be executed only by professionals with extensive training and certification.
  • Termite tenting is very safe if everyone follows the protocols. Pest control professionals are well-aware of the dangers of termite tenting. But there is no need to worry. This very fact means that the pest control professionals are likely to have safety protocols. If your home is about to undergo termite tenting, make sure to follow the protocols. There are things you should do before, during, and after termite tenting. These things are in place for the safety of everyone, including your neighbors.
  • The chemicals disappear quickly into the atmosphere. Yes, the pest control professionals do release the fumigant gas into the atmosphere. But this is really not something to worry about. Before they remove the tents covering the termite-infested home, the pest control professionals run tests. This is to make sure that the chemical levels in the home are low enough. When they determine that the levels are safe, they remove the tents and let the homeowners in.

Considerations for homeowners with termites

  • Get rid of the termite infestation as soon as you can. Do you know that your neighbors are at risk of getting termites from you? Termites swarm and they may end up on your neighbor’s property. They can start an infestation there. Termites themselves are also quite harmful to humans. They can trigger allergies, bite, and cause structures to collapse. And remember, this is beside the fact that termite treatment methods like termite tenting have health risks as well. You have every incentive in the world to get rid of termites immediately.
  • Notify your neighbors if your home is about to undergo termite tenting. Depending on where you are, you may be legally obligated to notify your neighbors regarding your upcoming termite tenting. For instance, in California, they have neighbor notification laws in place. But most areas in the U.S. don’t have such laws. With that said, it’s still good manners to notify your neighbors, regardless if you are legally obligated to do so or not. Tell them to don’t go near your property as it undergoes termite tenting.
  • Consistently communicate with your pest control professionals. Proper communication is key to ensure the effectiveness and safety of termite tenting. After all, your pest control professionals know more than you when it comes to these things. You might as well talk to them consistently to make sure they are guiding you properly throughout the process. Ask your pest control professionals about the things you need to do before, during, and after termite tenting. They may even be able to share some tips to you to avoid termite infestations in the future.
Fumigant gas in a hotel’s lobby. Image source: Skatebiker (Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0)

Termite tenting is really not that dangerous for neighbors

Termite tenting is a very effective termite treatment method. It uses a gas that seeps through the tiniest and most inaccessible parts of a home and kills the termites hiding there. But termite tenting can be dangerous for neighbors. The gas pest control professionals use for this termite treatment method has potentially harmful chemicals like sulfuryl fluoride. Exposure to these chemicals can harm humans, pets, and plants around the home undergoing the treatment.

But even though there are dangers associated with this treatment, neighbors don’t actually have to worry too much. The government regulates the pest control industry. And according to regulations, only pest control professionals with training and certification can perform termite tenting. If your neighbor is about to undergo such a treatment, it’s very likely that they are coordinating with such professionals.

To avoid termite tenting dangers even further, homeowners should coordinate properly with their pest control professionals. And they should also inform their neighbors about their plans to undergo termite tenting. Communication is a key part of getting rid of termites effectively and safely.

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