1. What are the official rules? Who regulates?
The rules are similar across the emirates. These are governed by the Federal Law 41 for 1992, the Ministerial Decree No.13 for 2012 and the Cabinet Decision No. 27 for 2012. At the national level, the Ministry of Environment and Water regulates what chemicals can be used in what ways. Those rules are implemented at the emirate level by municipalities, waste management authorities and economic departments. In brief, pest control companies have to be licensed, their workers have to be certified and trained, and their chemicals approved for use in homes. These requirements are checked annually.
2. What is the chemical used by official companies?
There is very wide range of chemicals that are approved for home pest control. In fact, this list changes, as new products become available. Examples include imidacloprid, a gel bait for cockroaches; bromadiolone, a block bait for rodents; and d-Phenothrin, a micro-emulsion concentrate for flies and mosquitoes.
3. How long do you use pesticides when employing a company endorsed by the authorities?
It varies, depending on the treatment used and area covered. The actual treatment usually takes just 15-30 minutes; the bulk of the time involves inspections and preparations (about an hour or so). It is not usually necessary to vacate the premise, but keeping yourself and children and pets away from treated areas is recommended for about four hours in most cases.
4. What pesticides are available on the grey market? What is the chemical used?
There is a long list of chemicals banned or restricted for home use. These are usually highly toxic and unsafe for domestic purposes. Perhaps the most notorious compound that is abused by rogue services is aluminium phosphide tablets that release a toxic and potentially lethal gas.
5. What are the dangers of grey market pest control?
There is a risk of toxic poisoning from exposure to pesticides unfit for home use or from improper use of approved products. There have been fatalities and serious illnesses as a result of such incidents.
6. What is the cost of pest control, official and grey market?
Prices vary a great deal, depending on the pests to be treated, the treatment itself, and area covered. On average, unlicensed operators tend to charge about Dh100 to ‘treat’ a two bedroom apartment for cockroaches – about three times less the bill from licensed companies.
7. What kind of pests do these treatments target?
Common insects that are usually a problem in UAE residences include primarily bed bugs, followed by cockroaches and ants, silverfish and ants. Flies and mosquitoes are not as much of a problem here.
8. How often should one get pest control done?
It is not necessary to call in pest control if you don’t have any pests. However, some companies suggest a half-yearly ‘treatment’, while others suggest a quarterly inspection. If there are pests, the treatment is usually carried out as an initial visit plus one or two follow-ups in a month or two.
9. What precautions should you take when getting pest control done?
Inform your neighbours so that they can keep their doors and windows closed to prevent the entry of pesticide vapours into their homes. Always keep pets and children away from treated areas and from applied pesticides.
10. Notice to neighbours – is this a must?
According to the Centre of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi, pest control companies are mandated to display a notice informing tenants that pest control activities are underway in the building.
11. What are the signs of pesticide poisoning?
The symptoms can and do vary from case to case, but common signs include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, numbness and convulsions.
12. What should you do if you develop symptoms of pesticide poisoning?
Seek medical help immediately. Leave the treated zone to a well-ventilated area or open space outdoor. Remove any affected clothing. Wash affected parts with water. If the pesticide has been ingested, vomiting can be induced by drinking warm water with salt in some cases.
As told by government officials, doctors, and pest control experts, with inputs by Faisal Masudi and Samihah Zaman, staff reporters.