To record dusts, learn to love your grams



November 6, 2017


November 6, 2017

In my August column (“From dust to dust”), we discussed how dust is a must for good cockroach control. Now’s let’s talk about how to record what we’ve applied at an account. How accurate can we be, really? Do we record the amounts used in ounces? Grams? How do we keep track of our usage during a service?

The amount of dust from each properly applied puff amounts to far less than 1 gram.
Photo: Mark Sheperdigian, BCE

Dust must be applied lightly, so as not to cause clumps on the surfaces or voids to be treated, but how much dust comes out with each puff? If you haven’t been trained to calibrate your duster, it will surprise you to know that only a few milligrams come out with each puff. To measure the dust that comes out with each puff, then, you would need a scale that measures milligrams. This is not a common piece of equipment, so you may need another method.

If you have a scale that measures grams, you can measure the duster full, and then again at 75 percent or 50 percent full. You will see it is only a few grams’ difference. Accounts that use only a small amount of dust will be a couple of grams. As a rough estimate, it takes 20 to 50 puffs to equal a gram, depending on your duster or your technique. Learn to count puffs.

It’s not easy to mix English and metric units, but you can be more accurate sticking to grams. There are 1,000 milligrams in a gram, and approximately 28 grams in an ounce. If you use fractions of an ounce, your application records will suffer for accuracy. Recording 0.25 ounce or even 0.50 ounce will be commonplace, and may be off by 50 percent to even 100 percent.

It is frustrating to consider the amount of time it takes to properly record the amount of dust you have used. None of the dusts used in cockroach control present any significant hazard to humans or pests in the amounts we use and the places we apply them. It could be argued that even misapplied dust doesn’t present a significant hazard, but it is essential that we are as accurate as possible in all of our pesticide applications.

It is even more disturbing to think that most regulatory officials have little concept for how much dust we have used; their only real concern is whether it was properly applied. That doesn’t let us off the hook, though — the true professional is at least in the ballpark when it comes to recording the amount of dust actually applied.


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  1. This is an excellent and useful post that should be a part of every technician training session.