Pest Control Through the Ages: Victorian Era Arsenic Use and Modern Safety Standards

Old fashioned newspaper with image of arsenic

Pest Control Through the Ages: Victorian Era Arsenic Use and Modern Safety Standards

Pest control has a long and complex history, evolving significantly from ancient times to the modern era. One of the most interesting periods in the history of pest management is the Victorian era, which is often noted for its use of arsenic. This potent and dangerous substance was commonly applied in homes and public spaces to control vermin and insects, with little regard for human health or environmental impact.

The Victorian Era: Arsenic and Pest Control

During the Victorian era, arsenic was a popular ingredient in many rodenticides and insecticides. It was widely available and effective at killing pests, but it was also highly toxic to humans and animals. The lack of regulatory frameworks and scientific understanding led to numerous health hazards. Families often used arsenic-laden papers to wallpaper their homes, unknowingly coating their living environments with a deadly toxin.

Transformation in Pest Control Practices

The shift from using hazardous substances like arsenic to more controlled and safe pest management techniques has been driven by advancements in science and changes in public health policies. Today, pest control practices are heavily regulated to ensure safety and efficacy. The introduction of integrated pest management (IPM) techniques emphasizes the use of biological control agents, mechanical solutions, and environmentally-friendly chemicals.

Regulation and Safety in Modern Pest Control

Modern pest control is characterized by stringent regulations that protect both public health and the environment. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which mandates thorough testing and evaluation of chemicals before they can be marketed and used. This regulatory framework ensures that contemporary pest control solutions are not only effective but also safe for application in homes, schools, and businesses.


The journey from the hazardous arsenic applications of the Victorian era to today's sophisticated pest control methods highlights the importance of science and regulation in enhancing safety standards. Paragon Pest Control is proud to be at the forefront of adopting and implementing modern pest management practices that prioritize the health and safety of our customers and the environment. By understanding the history of pest control, we can appreciate the advancements that allow us to manage pests effectively and safely today.