Q: I had my ex-husband’s dog in my apartment for the weekend and he left lots of fleas (the dog, not the husband). My apartment sent a pest control guy who put borate powder in the carpet. The fleas didn’t leave so he gave me something he called pyrethrin powder to use. By accident I dumped a lot of the powder on the carpet. So I used a vacuum cleaner to get it up. When the vacuum stirred up the dust, I began coughing. I still have difficulty breathing at night. What should I do to get the poison out of the carpet?
A: The Georgia Poison Control Center says that it sounds like you had an allergic reaction to either the pyrethrin chemical or to the dust on which it is adsorbed.
Some of the synthetic pyrethrin chemicals are known to cause lung reactions among pest control operators. Your vacuum cleaning just spewed the dust all over your apartment.
The first step would be to have your carpet and furniture professionally steam cleaned. Most of the chemical will be removed in the cleaning water. Consult a physician or an allergist on how to monitor your symptoms so you can feel safe living in your apartment.
It will help tremendously if you can identify the chemical you used. Try to find the original container and take it with you to the doctor.