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Why do my eyes burn after termite fumigation?

If your eyes are burning after your home has been fumigated for termites, there are a few potential causes. Fumigation involves filling the house with a toxic gas to kill termites, and residual gas or chemical particles can cause eye irritation. Proper aeration of the home after fumigation is essential to allow these irritants to dissipate. Until that happens, burning eyes are a common complaint.

What causes eye irritation after fumigation?

There are a few likely culprits that lead to burning, watery eyes after termite fumigation:

  • Lingering fumigant gases – Chemical fumigants like sulfuryl fluoride or methyl bromide are commonly used. Exposure to residual traces of these gases can irritate the eyes.
  • Chemical particulates – Tiny droplets of fumigant chemicals may remain dispersed in the air. When these come into contact with the eyes, irritation occurs.
  • Off-gassing from furnishings – The fumigants can be absorbed into furniture, fabrics, and other belongings. As these release (off-gas) the chemicals back into the air, eyes can become irritated.
  • Dry air – The fumigation process leaves behind very dry air, which can also contribute to dry, burning eyes.

The amount of eye irritation depends on factors like how well the home was aerated, the fumigant used, and how sensitive an individual is to chemical fumes and dust. People with allergies or respiratory conditions may experience more severe symptoms.

How long does eye irritation last after fumigation?

If proper aeration protocols are followed after fumigation, most eye irritation should diminish within 24-48 hours. Here is a general timeline:

  • First 24 hours – Eye irritation likely to peak during this period as fumigants remain in the air.
  • 24-48 hours – Eyes should start feeling better as gases and residues dissipate.
  • 48-72 hours – Significant improvement as the home becomes safer for re-entry and habitation.
  • 72+ hours – Eyes should clear up, though sensitive individuals may take longer for full relief.

During the first 1-3 days after fumigation, try to limit your time inside the home. This gives the chemicals more time to breakdown and ventilation systems to cycle in fresh air. If eye problems persist beyond 3 days, contact the fumigation company for advice.

Steps to minimize eye irritation after fumigation

You can take proactive steps to minimize eye burning and shorten recovery time after fumigation:

  1. Ventilate properly – Follow all guidelines from the fumigation company on when it is safe to re-enter your home and how long to ventilate it. Keep windows open even in inclement weather.
  2. Consider professional air scrubbing – Some companies offer this service to more rapidly remove contaminants.
  3. Avoid contact with soft furnishings – Gases collect in furniture, rugs, drapes, bedding, etc. Limit time in rooms with these items until aired out.
  4. Use temporary dust filters – High-quality filters can help capture airborne chemical droplets that irritate eyes.
  5. Run fans – Keep fans running on both levels of the home to circulate fresh air throughout.
  6. Use eyedrops – Refreshing drops like artificial tears can flush your eyes and provide relief.

The fumigation company may also recommend washing certain fabrics, drapes, and upholstery after treatment to eliminate absorbed chemicals that could aggravate your eyes over time.

When to call your doctor

You should call your doctor if:

  • Eye irritation and pain are severe
  • You experience light sensitivity, blurred vision, or discharge from the eyes
  • Symptoms last longer than 3-4 days after fumigation
  • You develop other worrying symptoms like respiratory distress

Intense or long-lasting eye problems after fumigation may indicate an abnormal reaction that needs medical attention. Better to be safe when dealing with exposure to potentially toxic fumigant chemicals.

Home remedies to soothe eyes after fumigation

You can use these natural home remedies to help soothe eye discomfort and irritation:

Cool compresses

Applying cool, damp washcloths over your closed eyelids helps constrict blood vessels and reduces swelling, redness, and irritation. Use clean cloths and cool (not icy) water.

Warm compresses

Warm washcloths applied to the eyes help stimulate tear production and clear irritants from the eyes. Follow with cool compresses to minimize swelling.

Saline spray or eyewash

Spraying preservative-free saline solution into the eyes washes away allergens, chemicals, and other irritants. Eyedrops work similarly by flushing the eyes.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel from the plant is a natural anti-inflammatory. Apply gel around the eyes to provide soothing relief from inflammation.

Chamomile tea bags

Used tea bags from chamomile tea contain anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce eye puffiness when applied over closed eyelids.

When to consider leaving your home

If eye irritation and overall symptoms remain severe more than 2-3 days after fumigation, you may need to temporarily leave your home until the inside air quality improves. Seek medical guidance and alert the fumigation company.

Extreme cases with respiratory distress, nausea, vomiting, etc. require immediate evacuation. Go to an emergency room and report possible improper fumigation procedures.

Preventing exposure when returning home

When you start spending time in your home again after fumigation, continue taking measures to minimize exposure to lingering irritants:

  • Open windows – Continue extra ventilation for 5-7 days.
  • Use HEPA air filters – Purifiers with HEPA filters can help clean the indoor air.
  • Wear a protective mask – N95 face masks are effective at capturing airborne particulates.
  • Wash fabrics – Clean drapes, bedding, upholstery that may have absorbed chemicals.
  • Take off shoes before entering – Leave outdoor shoes outside to prevent tracking in residues.
  • Shower after coming home – This washes away any irritants that got on your hair, skin, and clothes.

How to prevent eye irritation during future fumigations

To minimize eye problems the next time your home needs fumigating, you can:

  • Research fumigants – Discuss options with your pest control provider to select the least harsh fumigant.
  • Seal vulnerable items – Seal clothes, pillows, electronics in plastic to prevent absorption of chemicals.
  • Schedule professional air scrubbing – Have air scrubbing start immediately after the process finishes.
  • Vacate the home – Check into a hotel for a few days until the home has been sufficiently aired out.
  • Remove fabric furnishings – Eliminate drapes, rugs and upholstered furniture that tend to harbor residues.
  • Adjust your air conditioning – Switch HVAC setting to non-recirculated airflow.

Being proactive reduces reliance on mitigating eye problems after the fact. Discuss best practices for minimizing health exposure before your next fumigation.


Burning, irritated eyes are very common after having your home fumigated for termites. The good news is that with proper ventilation and simple remedies, symptoms usually fade within a few days. However, severe or persistent eye problems can signal a more serious reaction, so see a doctor if very concerned. To minimize discomfort, understand how to safely re-enter your home, continue ventilation, use eye drops, remove risky items, and ask about less-toxic fumigant choices for next time.