Vikane Bed Bug Fumigation
Vikane is an anti-termite chemical that is made by Dow Chemical. It's an odorless gas that is used to fumigate your house - it doesn't stain anything and doesn't leave smells. In recent years, it has been used against bed bugs as well, because it is effective against them, too. It is applied only by professional exterminators - you can't fumigate your own house.
Vikane is pretty effective - if used correctly, it can get rid of an infestation in one go, whereas most remedies can take multiple applications. It does take a larger dose to be effective against a bed bug infestation - usually about three times as much as with termites.
There are downsides, however. First of all, Vikane is more expensive than a lot of other treatments. This problem is added to by the fact that you have to use more than the usual dose. Second, it is much better for single-family houses than for an apartment. The reason is that to work, you have to seal off the entire structure. That's a lot harder to do in a multiple family location - and extremely difficult with an apartment building (which is actually where many bed bug infestations are located).
Is it safe?
I've found at least a couple of sites claiming it's dangerous to use Vikane, but they mainly look like "crank" sites, and I couldn't find any credible articles or studies talking about dangers. It's obviously very bad to actually inhale it - if you were in the house while they were fumigating, you could even die, and pets or fish should not remain in the house when they're doing it (nor should food you or your pets are going to eat). The basic chemical that it uses, sulfuryl fluoride, has been in use for over fifty years, so this isn't going to be one of those things they suddenly find out is dangerous. The Environmental Protection Agency has discussion of Vikane on their site, which basically says that it is safe if handled professionally, but don't inhale it.
Vikane is a gas, and it doesn't stay on dry surfaces, only in the air. So if you wait long enough, your house is going to be clear. If you go back in and experience any signs of illness - nausea, irritation of your throat or lungs, convulsions, sleepiness, or really anything weird, you need to get out of the house. Your exterminator will air out the house and will test the air levels for safety. If either of those things aren't done yet, you should not go back inside.
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