California Limits the Use of Carbon Monoxide to Control Burrowing Pests

Last Modified on February 22, 2023 by Zachary Smith

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Recently, California introduced a bill that strictly limits the use of carbon monoxide to control burrowing pests like rats, gophers, and ground squirrels.

While this law was put in place to protect people and non-target species, it has the potential to represent a major change for California homeowners and business owners.

After all, carbon monoxide was an effective, humane, and safe pest control method that represented no threat to wildlife and didn’t leave behind harmful residues or poisons. As such, many residential and commercial property owners relied on it, which they can’t do any longer.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the specifics and requirements of the new law and what people can do to adapt.

Let’s dive in.

How Effective is Carbon Monoxide as a Pest Control Method?

ground squirrel damage commercial property

As a rodent control method, carbon monoxide is a very effective option. Although carbon monoxide is not a pesticide, it’s a very useful control method for burrowing rodents.

Since California has not regulated the use of carbon monoxide over the years, many pest control companies and homeowners acquired carbon monoxide delivery devices that allowed them to dispatch burrowing pests humanely, underground, in a localized fashion, and without the use of harsh poisons.

The downside of this new law in California is that it effectively removes an essential tool from the green/non-toxic pest control toolbox.

What are The New Requirements of California Code of Regulations Section 6695?

Here’s a breakdown of the requirements of Section 6695:

  • Any carbon monoxide pest control device used to control rats, gophers, ground squirrels, or other burrowing rodents must bear the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Establishment Number of the establishment in which it was manufactured.
  • It is now illegal to use carbon monoxide pest control devices inside any structure that houses people or livestock, regardless of whether the structure is inhabited at the time of treatment.
  • It is illegal to use carbon monoxide pest control devices on burrow openings that are within the following distances of structures inhabited by people or livestock:
    • 50 feet for the control of ground squirrels or field mice.
    • 100 feet for the control of gophers.
    • 65 feet for the control of all other burrowing pests.
  • It is also illegal to use carbon monoxide delivery devices in burrows known or believed to contain non-target animals or to use carbon monoxide pest control for purposes other than the control of burrowing rodents.
  • Anyone using carbon monoxide pest control devices must wear protective eyewear compliant with American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices ANSI Z87.1-2020, retain records about the use of the pest control device for two years, and submit any information detailing adverse effects to human health or safety, the environment, or property to the relevant authorities.

As you can see, these regulations don’t completely outlaw using carbon monoxide as a pest control device. They do, however, place strict limitations on where carbon monoxide can be deployed and who can use it to control burrowing pests.

How Does This New Law Affect California Homeowners & Businesses?

ground squirrel damage

The main impact of Section 6695 is that it disallows California homeowners and business owners from using carbon monoxide to control pests.

The new law limits the use of carbon monoxide to employees performing pest control for hire or for local governments and dictates where carbon monoxide can be used (not within 50 feet of an inhabited structure for any burrowing pest).

As such, it will become impossible for homeowners and business owners to use carbon monoxide as a pest control method.

Unfortunately, this is likely to have some negative ripple effects. 

Specifically, Section 6695 may push some pest control companies and homeowners to use more pesticides like rodenticides.

The new law will also affect commercial properties that were working towards achieving LEED environmental stewardship certification. Many of the top cutting-edge, class-A commercial property operators are working diligently to eliminate pesticides and rodenticides from their campuses.

Until recently, carbon monoxide option was wonderful for creating good green pest control and following IPM Integrated Pest Management practices. Limiting the use of carbon monoxide will create a problem for commercial properties as well and may force them to either trap or use rodenticide in places rodenticide is not appropriate.

How is Smith’s Prepared to Handle This New Change?

While the new law will throw many pest control companies for a loop, Smith’s is prepared.

The reason is simple:

We’re experts in trapping!

While many pest control companies don’t have the time, workforce, or bandwidth to slow down and get methodical about setting traps, Smith’s has mastered the art of trapping.

In fact, our team already relied heavily on trapping as a pest control modality, and now we can carry this expertise forward to serve customers that can’t use carbon monoxide any longer.

While trapping can be difficult (raccoons and coyotes dig up the grass to access traps, and setting good traps is all about timing, location, and careful study of pest behavior), our team has a high trap success rate and can effectively use traps to eliminate burrowing pests.

Looking for Effective Burrowing Pest Control in the San Francisco Bay Area? We Can Help!

While the limitation of carbon monoxide was a major blow to the pest control industry, Smith’s is still here providing effective burrowing pest control services.

Our team of expert trappers can effectively set and maintain traps to help you get rid of burrowing pests on your commercial or residential property.

Our trapping methods are safe for pets, kids, and non-target species (we bury traps underground), non-toxic, and humane.

With the attention of our skilled pest control professionals, our trapping programs will effectively reduce or eliminate your pest population in no time, leaving you with an outdoor space you can enjoy once more.

Ready to learn more about our trapping services and how they can effectively replace carbon monoxide pest control? Contact us today.

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 15+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.