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Public advisory

Health Canada Warns Canadians Not to Use Unregistered Bedbug Control Products

Starting date:
February 27, 2015
Posting date:
February 27, 2015
Type of communication:
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Important Safety Information, Poisoning Hazard
General Public
Identification number:


On February 23, Health Canada was made aware of the death of an infant and the serious injury of other family members from exposure to what appears to be a phosphine pesticide. A second child has since died as a result of this incident. This pesticide, which is highly toxic to humans and animals, was imported for personal use from abroad and was being used in the residence for the control of bedbugs. In Canada, phosphine pesticides can only be sold to individuals holding an appropriate pesticide applicator certificate or licence and are not approved for use on bedbugs. Health effects from exposure to phosphine can include severe injury or death.

Health Canada is also aware of other incidents involving the use of ozone generators (machines that produce ozone gas) for the control of bedbugs. Ozone generating devices are not safe to use and can cause respiratory problems including coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and irritation of eyes, nose and throat.

Health Canada is warning Canadians of the extreme danger of using unregistered pest control products, including those imported from other countries or obtained when travelling abroad. The department reminds Canadians that pesticides should only be used according to the directions outlined on product labels.

What you should do

Bedbugs are very hard to get rid of. Health Canada strongly recommends hiring a licensed professional pest control operator to deal with a bedbug infestation. Contact information for exterminators or pest control operators can be found by contacting the Canadian Pest Management Association or by searching for local exterminators in the yellow pages or on

Building tenants who have bedbugs should notify the landlord right away and should speak with a public health officer about dealing with the infestation.

In addition to hiring a licensed professional pest control operator, Health Canada advises anyone dealing with a bedbug problem to undertake physical control and preventative actions such as steaming, washing and throwing household items out.

In general, individuals choosing to use pesticides must follow these safety precautions:

  • Use only pesticides registered by Health Canada and only as directed on the label.
  • Carefully read the label before buying or using pesticides, to figure out which products are best for your situation and to use the product safely.
  • Never use any treatment on people, pets or bedding unless the pesticide label specifically says to do so. For example, pesticides registered for use on bed frames are not meant to be used on mattresses or box springs.
  • Do not use inside a home pesticides that are meant for use outdoors.
  • Do not use pesticides on baby cribs, playpens, or toys.
  • Do not use homemade pesticides. While they may seem simple and harmless, many homemade pesticide recipes can be dangerous both to make and to use. They could harm you and your family.
  • Consider the serious health risks associated with purchasing pesticides and other chemicals abroad and importing them into Canada. This may be illegal and result in enforcement action.

Who is affected

Canadians who have a bedbug problem in their residence.

Media enquiries

Health Canada


Public enquiries


1-866 225-0709

What Health Canada is doing

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency carefully monitors safety incidents related to the control of bedbugs and will take compliance and enforcement actions where necessary. The department continues to provide Canadians with advice on the safe use of pesticides and how to properly control pests in the home.

Before registering a pesticide product, Health Canada conducts a science-based assessment to ensure that the product meets strict health and environmental standards and has value. If the use of a product poses unacceptable risks to human health or the environment, it is not registered for that use in Canada.

When registering pesticide products, Health Canada pays special attention to vulnerable groups, like infants and children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and seniors. There are strict health and safety standards to protect people at risk.