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Many of us come into contact with harmful chemicals on a daily basis without even realizing it. One of those chemicals is a pesticide called Firponil. According to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University, Fipronil is an insecticide used to control many common insect pests including ants, termites, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, and ticks, among other insects. Often, it is used at construction sites in heavy quantities to treat the soil where housing or other buildings will be constructed. It was first allowed in the United States in 1996. It comes in a variety of forms, one of the most common being labeled as Terminol, and works by disrupting the normal function of the central nervous system in insects.

Humans can be exposed to Fipronil through contact with the skin or eyes, inhalation, or ingestion. This contact, if short-term in nature, may cause minor skin irritation. If accidentally ingested, the effect can be more serious, causing sweating, nausea, vomiting, headaches, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, and even seizures. Generally, treatment is not required. In the United States, Fipronil is classified as a possible human carcinogen.

Despite the fact that official information seems to indicate Fipronil is an insecticide that does not present serious concerns, a history of its use paints a different picture. For example, Fipronil has been banned by several countries around the world, including Italy, France, and China. Other countries, such as the U.K. and Australia have given serious consideration to the ban of this particular pesticide.

It is notable that these bans do not stem primarily from concern over the pesticide’s effect on humans; rather, the bans are in place due to studies showing Fipronil’s adverse—and often unintended—impact on a variety of animals. Firponil is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates, bees, and certain bird species. Because Fipronil degrades slowly once it is in the soil or the water, these animals are at particular risk for harmful levels of exposure. In many of the places where Fipronil has been banned, significant negative effects on agricultural or fishing activities have been documented.

These bans, and the documented adverse affects of Fipronil, remind us of the importance to pay close attention to what is in the products that we might use every day without a second thought. Fipronil, in particular, is a widely used ingredient in many pest control products that include grass treatments, gel baits, spot-on pet care products, termite control products, and agricultural products. Before using these products, educate yourself on their adverse effects and, even more importantly, consider using a less toxic product.

One such product for subterranean termites is a physical barrier made of marine-grade stainless steel woven wire mesh that blocks the openings in the foundation of a building in the same way window screens block flying insects from entering a building. The stainless steel mesh barrier is being marketed around the world by TermimeshTM. A stainless steel wire mesh barrier system for subterranean termite control enables the builder to eliminate about 300 gallons of termiticide _ like Fiptonil _ from the soil under the building. No retreatment is ever necessary and the building is protected from subterranean termites for life without the use of chemical pesticides. TermimeshTM is currently being marketed in Hawaii and Guam, Texas, Louisiana and Florida as well as other countries around the world. A stainless steel wire mesh termite barrier system must be installed by accredited and highly trained installers in order to comply with the building code requirements and in order to assure an effective installation. A stainless steel mesh termite barrier system installed by trained workers accredited by TermimeshTM is also eligible for an Innovation & Design Credit under the LEEDTM certification sysytem. To learn how Termimesh can help achieve sustainability and promote health and safety through LEEDTM certification you may want to read "Achieving Durability in Buildings – A Checklist of Action" that describes the process and mentions TermimeshTM :

Provide physical termite barriers.
In areas with risk of termites, install termite shields to block the entry of subterranean termites into buildings. Instruct building owners on inspection of termite shields. Other products, such as TermiMesh and termite-barrier sand, provide additional protection.

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