An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers

Información relacionada disponible en español

Total release foggers, also known as "bug bombs," are pesticide products containing aerosol propellants that release their contents at once to fumigate an area. These products are often used around the home to kill cockroaches, fleas, and other pests. Because the aerosol propellants in these foggers typically are flammable, improper use may cause a fire or explosion. In addition to this hazard, failure to vacate premises during fogging or reentering without airing out may result in illness.

On this page:


Vacate the treated residence after application

Do not use more foggers than necessary

Keep foggers away from ignition sources

Top of Page

Pest Prevention First

Foggers and bug bombs should not be used as the only method to attempt to control bed bugs. See Should I Use a Fogger?

The most effective way to reduce or eliminate pest problems and risks posed by pesticides is to first prevent these pests from entering your home. Around the home, such measures include: 

  • removing sources of food and water (such as leaky pipes) and
  • destroying pest shelters and breeding sites (such as litter and plant debris).

For additional information about preventing pests around the home, see Got Pests? Control them Safely

See the Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety for more advice on pest issues and pesticide safety.

Top of Page

Safety Precautions

When nonchemical pesticide prevention measures are not effective to control pests, you may choose to use a chemical pesticide. One type of product is the total release fogger. While these products can be effective under the proper circumstances, they can pose real risks to your home and family if used improperly. Before using a total release fogger in your home or building, please read and follow these safety tips and common-sense precautions.

  • Do not use more foggers than necessary - Watch Video 

    Accidents involving total release foggers have occasionally occurred when the user releases too much fogging material, leading to a buildup of flammable vapors. Foggers come in several sizes. Read the label carefully to determine the appropriate size for the space you have.

    To calculate the volume of a living area, multiply the height, width, and length of each room, and then add the room volumes together. For example, a 10 foot by 10 foot room with a standard 8 foot ceiling has a volume of 800 cubic feet.

Foggers should not be used in small, enclosed places, such as closets, cabinets, or under counters or tables. Use of a fogger in an enclosed space may cause the product to explode, resulting in injury to people or damage to property.

  • Keep foggers away from ignition sources - Watch Video 

    Accidents are most likely to occur if large amounts of fogger material come into direct contact with an ignition source, such as a flame, pilot light, or spark from an electrical appliance that cycles on and off (e.g., refrigerator or air conditioner). EPA recommends placing the fogger six feet or farther from all ignition sources. If you need assistance with extinguishing pilot lights, please contact your local gas utility or management company.

  • Notify family members, neighbors, and anyone else that may enter the premises

    In addition to telling everyone that they should not enter the area, be certain to use door tags if they are included with the product or print out your own warning signs if you cannot find tags with the product. This will help reduce the risk of other people walking into the home or room and accidentally exposing themselves to the pesticides released from the device.

  • Vacate the treated house, individual apartment unit, or other structure immediately - Watch Video 

    Breathing spray mist may be harmful. Safe use of these products requires that everyone, including pets, leave the treated space and close the doors after foggers have been released. Stay out until the time indicated on the label has passed, usually two to four hours. Prematurely entering the treated premises may lead to illness.

  • Air out after returning to the treated area

    Upon return to the treated area, open the doors and windows to ventilate any remaining fumes. Fans placed in doors and windows can assist in airing out the treated area.

Top of Page

Take Other Common-Sense Precautions

  • Use no more than one fogger per room, since a typical 6 oz. fogger is enough to treat a very large area, up to 25 by 25 feet of unobstructed space.
  • Remove all children, pets, toys, and uncovered food from treated area.
  • Read the label and follow directions carefully.
  • Keep the product away from children, for example, in a locked cabinet or shed.
  • Teach children not to touch pesticide products and other household chemicals.
  • Keep the telephone number of your local poison control center or the toll-free number (1-800-222-1222) for the National Poison Control Hotline handy.

For More Information

For additional information about pesticides and poisoning prevention, please contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) Exit at 800-858-7378.

Top of Page