Long Live The Florida Pesticide Applicator

skull hand on B&G http://pestcemetery.com/

Pesticides came about after the first world war. Some brainy petrochemical money maker said, ‘Hey, that mustard gas worked great on people, maybe we could dilute it down and spray it on our crops to deal with pests.’
Woody Harrelson

Ignorance is not bliss…it’s simply ignorance

Have you ever gone into an account and someone looks at you in all seriousness and said, “Hey, aren’t you afraid of getting cancer?” I sure have, and over the years my responses have varied. I’ve tried to use humor –you know, the ol Dursban twitch line. I’ve tried to be scientific, I’ve ignored them, and once I even responded “yes I’m deathly afraid”- That person looked at me and their jaw dropped to the ground. I finished my comment by adding “it would help if you didn’t blow your cigarette smoke in my face.” Eh, that didn’t go over real well.

But in all these occasions I cannot remember ever really convincing anyone. So realizing this, I rarely take anyone to task. However, one consistent fact I always share that only changes as I spend more time in the industry is this. “I’ve been doing this 5 years & I’m perfectly healthy.”… I’ve been at this 10 years… 20 & now I can proudly I can say 30 plus & I am healthy as a horse. Alas, even with this my words so often fall on deaf ears.

But I’ve decided from now on I’m going to state this scientific fact & if you are a pesticide applicator in Florida, you might want to consider using it as well.

“It is a proven scientific fact–pesticide applicators were consistently and significantly healthier than the general population of Florida.”

Does This Fact Surprise You? It Did Me

I have long searched for a study specific to pesticide applicators concerning health. Most of what you find is related to agriculture or isolated cases….all I’ve really ever seen has been article after article about the dangers of pesticides. The cancers, the disease and the harming of unborn children or the deaths & tragedy caused by misapplication. Of course this is big news when it happens- But I argue it’s much like the airplane crash. Everyone focuses on the one or two that occur but ignore the tens of thousands of flights that are successful every day. It is skewed logic at best but this is what’s been accepted as normal thinking. So imagine my surprise when I found a study that specifically targeted pest control applicators. One that scientifically shows a technician in pest control is not doomed to a life of disease and despair wheeling around an oxygen tank because his daily work poisoned his body. Even more so when it was specific to my state of Florida, the bug capital of the world.

The Sad Reality

As I said you can find ALL THE AMMO you want if you’d like to bash my profession. The Good Doctor so and so says, studies from the great institute of such and such declare, the consensus of scientists agree…Yada yada…. Even some of my own quote, colleagues end quote fill up their advertisements, web sites and forums with alarming statements and dire warnings about the dangers of pesticides. This is an excerpt from just such a site.

you can choose to invest in cleaner pest control methods so that your cure doesn’t become worse than the disease.

That’s Pitiful-

The One Thing Missing

If you, like me, have seen & read these scary sites I challenge you to look for something each one of them is missing. You have to look hard because it’s disguised very well. Definitive proof. Oh sure they cite all the smart sounding scientists with technical sounding theories and formulas. They cite study after study and use frightening language and conclude their findings with the worst possible results and place all the blame squarely on their target….. Such as this study about low sperm count caused by pesticides. …… Listen to the STRONG language used. in this sample excert…..

At the time of release, the 2012 study’s authors wrote: “To our knowledge, it is the first study concluding a severe and general decrease in sperm concentration and morphology at the scale of a whole country over a substantial period. This constitutes a serious public health warning.

I’ve linked to it so you can see for yourself but I tell you by the time you hit this line you’re convinced that pesticides are the cause & since it’s a “scientist” , by god you can’t be convinced other wise. It’s the whole country for Pete’s sake-a severe public warning has been issued!!!!!! Get a hazmat suit and cancel your bug service!

But look at statements you may have missed in this same study with these sample excerpts;

Missing from the 2012 study was the reason for the decline…..could be the cause of the decline but had not analyzed data to confirm that suspicion……are the likely culprit…..Now it looks like the suspicion was correct.

Is this science? Science says suspicion? I thought science was yay or nay! Would you base your beliefs on “maybes?” On “likely culprits or could be’s?” That’s apparently what many of us are doing because it’s been bought hook line and sinker. Who questions the guys in the white coats? You? Me? No, we just accept it and move on, Wheel Of Fortunes on in a 1/2 hour—stop interfering with my life!

It seems we don’t have to prove anything anymore to make it right–we just have to make the accusation and put on a lab coat and that’s pretty much good enough for most people.

Does This Sound More Definitive To You?

Now to be fair, the site I’m referring to (follow the link) has many many studies listed but all that I saw that bandied about with the great ills of pesticides used much the same language as the afore mentioned. However, one article caught my eye and their definitive conclusion and methods for arriving at it seemed far more credible to me. You can judge for yourself.

Here are the highlights;

Mortality in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study, analysed by general standardised mortality ratio (SMR) of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida compared with the general population of Florida. A cohort of 33,658 (10% female) licensed pesticide applicators assembled through extensive data linkages yielded 1874 deaths with 320,250 person-years.

OBJECTIVES: Although the primary hazard to humans associated with pesticide exposure is acute poisoning, there has been considerable concern surrounding the possibility of cancer and other chronic health effects in humans.

Female breast cancer was not increased despite theories linking risk of breast cancer with exposure to oestrogen disruptors….

The number of female applicators was small, as were the numbers of deaths. Mortality from cervical cancer and breast cancer was not increased…..

There were no confirmed cases of soft tissue sarcoma in this cohort of pesticide applicators, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was not higher in any of the subpopulations examined. These findings are at odds with the previously published literature….

The lack of cases of soft tissue sarcoma is at odds with previous publications associating the use of the phenoxy herbicides with an increased risk of these cancers…..

RESULTS: The pesticide applicators were consistently and significantly healthier than the general population of Florida.

Now call me crazy but I can read. There isn’t any language in here that muddies the waters as in the other examples given. They even give the reason for the study. “ considerable concern surrounding the possibility of cancer and other chronic health effects in humans.” They came right out and told you what they were looking for and they were honest enough to look at others research and consider it…”These findings are at odds with the previously published literature”– Hey, that seems above board to me, I’d say these scientist had no dogs in this fight. I’m not a scientist but even I can understand words like results, conclusion, consistent, no confirmed cases……. Not if’s, likely culprits or may be linked. Give me a break.

You want to hear the real kicker?

This study wasn’t done on today’s certified operators. The ones who have access to more training and knowledge than ever before. We who are under tighter regulations and scrutiny. It wasn’t done at this time when we use mere milliliters of target specific products that billions of dollars of research went into. Products that affect processes bugs have but not humans..well that is unless YOU shed your skin or lick your loved ones clean every night when they come home. Nope, this study was conducted at the time when that evil Dursban was still around and other nasty killers like chlordane. A time when our industry was beginning to seriously bend to the weight of the heavy push to make silent spring a relevant scientific work. (which it could not do on it’s own merit) When phrases like lay and spray, baseboard jockeys & scorched earth were being introduced to push an agenda, not to further a call of better service.

This study was dated from 1 January 1975 to 31 December 1993.

Wow, I only have one question. Where the hell was this study hiding all these years? It may be that my tiny little blog is the only place you’ll find it– That’s a damn shame! It’s like the press release from the ESA (Entomological Society of America), The American Phytopathological Society & The Weed Science Society of America put out. That bombshell came out about the mistake of IPM to forsake pesticides until the last possible moment & there hasn’t been word one & that was just in 2013. What the hell? Aren’t these guys scientists too? My guess is no one in the era of this study wanted to tangle with these men of science much like now with the ESA so they’ll let presentations like this quietly slide by. Maybe that’s smart on their part….. cowardly but smart. Why go looking for a bloody nose. (intellectually speaking)

And this health study– it’s been apparently buried for years and just an over the hill bug boy with a blog finds it? You mean all these scientists who do research with the best equipment in the world, are peer reviewed & have EASY access to this and all available information just what? Closed their eyes and pretend it’s not there? Aren’t scientist suppose to be curious by nature? They can’t even raise a petri’s dish of interest about it? You’d think they’d want to check out these findings, you know in the interest of science and that pesky little thing called the truth. Guess not.

So hey, it may just be me but I’m gonna sleep fine tonight knowing I’m gonna get in my truck tomorrow and do what I love and have been trained to do. Apply pesticides.
I hope you sleep better too.

Long live the Florida pesticide applicator!!


How bout I fry your mind a little more? Think my kids were in danger with my profession? Your unborn baby perhaps when I come to your house for service? Follow this link and make up your own mind!! Yet another credible study specifically on pesticide applicators and their children’s health. I think it will surprise you.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Daniel D. Dye


  • Thank you Daniel…. I’m just sorry I didn’t find this study back in 1984 when I got my start.

  • Daniel D. Dye

    I’m with you on that, Jerry. I started way back in 1977. I remember a convenient store manager asking me if the odor or fumes from the insecticide I was using was harmful. My response was something like…No more than the odor or fumes from the coffee you’re brewing. (I hate coffee!) Probably was not the best answer, but it was all I could think of at the time. By the way, I was using Dursban and DDVP.

  • The shift has been amazing as we look back on it. I’m all for change when needed but so much of this has been based on junk science and fear. We’re called names or degraded if we stand up in any way against it……… I’m to the point I don’t much care what they say anymore.

  • stuto1

    We don’t pay any extra life insurance because of our profession! That’s what an agent surprisingly told me ounce!

  • Excellent point…. I hadn’t thought about that.