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Pest Exterminator

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Synonyms: Applicator, pesticides; exterminator; exterminator, vermin and rodent; fumigator and sterilizer; pest-control worker; scout (agriculture); sprayer, pesticides; sprayer/duster, pesticides

Job profile

Definition and/or description


An Exterminator (business ser.) sprays chemical solutions or toxic gases and sets mechanical traps to kill pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas. Fumigates rooms and buildings, using toxic gases. Sprays chemical solutions or dusts powders in rooms and work areas. Places poisonous paste or bait and mechanical traps where pests are present. May clean areas that harbour pests, using rakes, brooms, shovels, and mops, preparatory to fumigating. May be required to hold state licence. May be designated according to type of pest eliminated as Rodent Exterminator (business ser.) (DOT).

Related and specific occupations


Agricultural aircraft pilot (airplane pilot, cropdusting; aerial applicator, pilot; or pest-control, pilot); agricultural-chemicals inspector; autoclave operator; exterminator helper; hand-spray operator; herbicide worker/handler; insecticide mixer (chemical); insect-sprayer, mobile unit; mosquito sprayer; pasteurizer; pesticide-control inspector; pesticide maker; sanitarian-exterminator; sprayer, insecticide; sprayer hand (agriculture); sterilizer-operator (beverages; –/ dairy products; –/ feathers; –/ medical services; etc.); supervisor, extermination; supervisor, insect and disease inspection; termite-treater; weed-inspector (DOT); agricultural worker exposed to pesticide residues (gardener, nursery or greenhouse worker); field fumigator; pesticide ground-applicator; pesticide mixer and/or loader; pesticide store worker; pilot flagger to aircraft, etc.



Adding (chemicals); advising (customers); analysing; applying; assisting; authorizing; baiting; blending; bolting; boring; briefing (workers, etc.); burning (weeds); calculating; calling; carrying; checking; clamping; cleaning; climbing; collecting; confiscating; controlling; coordinating; crawling; cutting; destroying; detecting; determining; digging; directing; discharging (gases); distributing; drilling; driving; dusting; eliminating; ensuring; estimating; evaluating; examining; exterminating; fastening; filing; flushing; fogging; formulating (pesticide mixtures); fumigating; gassing; gauging; hammering; handling; identifying; igniting; impregnating (soil); initiating; injecting; inserting; inspecting; installing; instructing; interviewing; investigating; isolating; issuing; keeping; killing; laying (blocks); loading and unloading; locating; maintaining; manipulating (levers); marking; measuring; mixing; modifying; moving; notifying; observing; obtaining; opening; operating; padlocking; painting; performing; piloting; placing; pointing (nozzle); poisoning; positioning; posting; pouring; preparing; preventing; producing; pulling and pushing; pumping; quarantining; raising; recommending; recording; releasing; removing; replacing; reporting; reviewing; sampling; sawing; sealing; searching; securing; selecting; setting; shooting; signalling; spraying; spreading; sterilizing; studying; supervising; surveying; taping; teaching; tending (machines); transferring; transporting; trapping; treating; turning; updating; using; visiting; weighing; wrapping.


Accident hazards


– Increased risk of road accidents due to lengthy periods of driving heavily loaded vehicles, frequently towing trailers and mechanical spraying equipment, on deteriorated field roads and under unfavourable weather conditions;

– Hazards associated with a flight aboard light aircraft (including helicopters) at low altitude (typical for pest exterminators engaged in aerial operations), including aircraft crashes, exposure to pesticides carried into the cockpit onto clothes and footwear, or during accidental flying through a cloud of sprayed pesticides (drift cloud); as a result of leakage from hoppers, etc.;

– Hazards to ground personnel engaged in aerial pesticide application (loaders, flagmen, agricultural workers, etc.), including risk of being struck by aircraft during take-off, landing, taxiing or low altitude flight; accidental exposure to pesticides as a result of pesticide-loaded aircraft crash, leakage from hoppers, etc.;

– Risk of being hit by a train while exterminating pests between the rails of a railroad;

– Slips, trips, falls and bumps (on slippery surfaces and at obstacles, especially while wearing protective mask limiting the field of vision); falls of exterminator-helper from the towed equipment; falls from elevated platforms and stairs, especially when carrying containers and other heavy loads;

– Falls of heavy loads, especially containers, on workers’ feet;

– Stabs and cuts caused by sharp objects;

– Stepping on sharp discarded objects while carrying out spraying work in the field;

– Bursting of overpressurized spraying vessels, resulting in pesticide splashes capable of hitting the operator;

– Hazard of snake bites or wasp and bee stings while carrying out spraying work in the field;

– Risk of hernia as a result of overstrenuous movements when lifting and loading heavy loads;

– Acute poisoning while applying pesticides (especially as a result of inhaling aerosols while not wearing protective mask; could be fatal), or as a result of spills and fires during transportation and storage of pesticides;

– Accidental contamination or poisoning of exterminators during the process of mixing extremely concentrated and highly hazardous pesticides;

– Splashes of pesticides on face and/or hands while preparing pesticide formulations;

– Accidental inhalation of pesticide spray (caused by a sudden change of wind, or by a poorly selected and maintained protective mask, etc.);

– Risk of incidental swallowing of a liquid pesticide mistakenly thought to be water, or of pesticide-polluted irrigation water (may occasionally happen to agricultural workers and particularly to children, not directly engaged in the extermination work but present at its site), or as a result of incidental contact with, or use of, discarded and empty pesticide containers;

– Skin burns as a result of excessive exposure of unprotected skin to pesticides (e.g., to diquat dibromide solutions);

– Electric shocks caused by contact with defective electromechanical equipment;

– Electric hazards while exterminating pests around power line pylons;

– Acute intoxication as a result of release into the atmosphere of hazardous compounds (e.g., HCN, SO2, NOx) during accidental (fires or explosions) or intentional (owing to poor judgment) burning of pesticides or pesticide containers at manufacturing, storing, formulating, and similar establish-ments, or at application sites;

– Skin and eye irritation, chest tightness, nausea, limb numbness, asphyxia, etc., in firefighters engaged in extinguishing pesticide-involved fires.

Physical hazards


– Risk of electrocution from electrical power lines, while spraying pesticides on agricultural fields;

– Exposure to direct and reflected ultraviolet (solar) radiation while working outdoors, possibly leading to erythema, skin cancer, cataracts and photokeratitis;

– Exposure to potentially health-detrimental climatic factors (resulting in effects ranging from temperature dis- comfort to heat stroke) while working outdoors.

Chemical hazards


– Severe intoxication (not acute) due to exposure to various pesticides that may result in disease, disability or death;

– Various skin effects (itching, erythema, blistering, irritation, sensitization, photosensitization, etc.) as a result of exposure to vapours, spray and gaseous forms of pesticides, especially through direct skin contact (e.g., blisters and itching from methyl bromide; erythema from synthetic pyrethroid; urticaria from diethyl fumarate, etc.);

– Contact and systemic dermatoses in pesticide workers, including gardeners and farmers, veterinarians, fruit and vegetable handlers (contacting pesticide residues), and especially from contact with organic phosphorous pesticides (OPP) and cyano pyrethroids;

– Chloracne and porphyria-cutana-tarda as a result of contact with chlorinated pesticides;

– Eye irritation in pesticide sprayers (e.g., while spraying OPP);

– Eye cataracts as a result of exposure to diquat dibromide;

– Corneal and conjunctival injuries caused by insect repellents;

– Mouth and throat irritation and burns (in sprayers);

– Ulcers of the mouth (in gardener sprayers engaged in diluting carbamates);

– Asphyxia caused by OPP and carbamates (in agricultural sprayers);

– Various pulmonary diseases, including lung oedema, pneumonitis, asthmatic reactions, alveolitis, pneumoconiosis (from pesticide dusting), etc.;

– Various gastrointestinal effects, including abdominal pains, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vertigo, giddiness, headaches, reduced and/or lost consciousness, seizures, coma, etc.;

– Nervous system disorders, including neurotoxicity, postural instability, neuropathy, neuro-behavioural effects, effects on cognitive functions, anxiety, insomnia, etc. (caused by exposure to pesticides, especially to OPP);

– Disorders of endocrine and reproductive systems, including infertility, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, sterility, congenital defects, embryo- and foetotoxicity effects, perinatal death, etc.;

– Effects on blood and circulatory system, caused by exposure to pesticides, especially to chlorinated hydrocarbons;

– Musculoskeletal and soft tissue problems in pesticide users;

– Other systemic effects caused by exposure to various pesticides;

– Carcinogenic effects, including cancer of bladder, brain, liver, lung, prostate, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, testicles, etc., malignant lymphomas, leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and numerous other forms of carcinogenic and mutagenic effects.

Biological hazards


Risk of being infected by zoonotic diseases transmitted by fleas or other insects during extermination work.

Ergonomic and social factors


– Back pains in hand-spray workers;

– Acute musculoskeletal injuries caused by physical overexertion and awkward posture while carrying and otherwise handling containers and heavy pieces of equipment;

– Tiredness and general ill feeling;

– Psychological stress resulting from the fears of potential overexposure to pesticides and of failing the compulsory periodical health check-ups;

– Development of lumbago caused by vibrations, inadequate vehicle suspension, uncomfortable seat, wet and/or humid working conditions, etc.


International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). 1991. Occupational Exposures in Insecticide Application and Some Pesticides. IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Vol. 53. Lyon: IARC.

International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre (CIS). 1995. International Safety Datasheets on Occupations. Steering Committee meeting, 9-10 March. Geneva: ILO. (Classified under “Laboratory Animal Raiser”.)

World Health Organization (WHO). 1990. Principles for the Toxicological Assessment of Pesticide Residues in Food. Environmental Health Criteria Series 104. Geneva: WHO.


List of common pesticides:

– Aldrin

– Aldicarb

– Amitrole

– Arsenic

– Atrazine

– Azinphos (methyl)

– Captan

– Carbaryl

– Chlordane

– Chloropicrin

– Chlorpyrifos

– Copper sulphate

– 2,4-D


– Diazinon

– Dichlorvos

– Dieldryn

– Diquat

– Endosulphan

– Endrin

– Ethion

– Ethylene dibromide

– Fenamiphos

– Fensulphothion

– Fenthion

– Fonophos

– Furfural

– Heptachlor

– Lindane

– Malathion

– Methyl bromide

– Mevinphos

– Paraquat

– Parathion

– Pentachlorophenol

– Permethrin

– Pyrethrum

– Rotenone

– Sodium fluoroacetate

– Systox (2,4,5-T)

– Temephos


– Thallium

– Thiram

– Warfarin



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