Yesterday I received an e-mail from Steve Milloy of Junkscience.com about a report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlining how many people had been made ill by pesticide applications over a seven year period involving treatments for bed bug infestations in seven states.
Over that seven year period there were 111 reported reactions with one fatality. Considering that 93% of these cases were caused by inappropriate applications of pesticides by these people themselves, and literally tens of thousands of applications have been made in the last seven years for bed bugs alone; this is a remarkable safety record for pesticides….after all if any product is misused there will be unhappy consequences.
You will notice that most of these problems have occurred in the last couple of years. Why? Because this plague of bed bugs is expanding at a rate that would have been considered impossible a few years ago. In 1996 the Environmental Protection Agency promoted something called the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which was to be a fix for something called the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938. For more information on this please go to my article, We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges. As a result whole categories of safe effective chemistry was lost to the structural pest control industry, and to the general public.
It didn’t take long before the impact of that action was felt. There were those in our industry that predicted that one of the first major problems we would encounter as a society from FQPA would be the return of bed bugs. They were right. There were those in our industry who predicted all of these issues involving health problems caused by misapplications. They were right, and all of what has occurred was perfectly predictable.
The one thing we have to come to understand is that the finger of blame needs to be pointed at the right party. The blame must be placed at the feet the ones responsible for this plague overtaking the nation, the pesticide misapplications and the related health problems; The Environmental Protection Agency! Through their irrational anti-pesticide agenda we have lost effective products that would have prevented this plague in the first place. As a result people would not have required unending treatments they cannot afford by professionals, which has forced them to attempt to eradicate this problem on their own. As a result of the EPA’s actions people, especially the poor, are desperate for relief. This sense of desperation felt by these people causes them to act with folly in order to rid their homes of these pests.
Reports such as this from CDC amount to unnecessary scare mongering as they admit themselves that “Although the number of acute illnesses from insecticides used to control bed bugs does not suggest a large public health burden, increases in bed bug populations that are resistant to commonly available insecticides might result in increased misuse of pesticides.” This report is scare mongering with no solution to the problem. They go on to say;
Public health recommendations to prevent illnesses associated with insecticides used to control bed bugs include media campaigns to educate the public about bed bug--related issues, including nonchemical methods to control bed bugs, methods to prevent bed bug infestation (e.g., avoiding the purchase of used mattresses and box springs), and prudent use of effective insecticides. Persons who have a bed bug infestation should be encouraged to seek the services of a certified applicator…If they had stopped there they would have at least offered something of value, but they continue…. who uses an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) approach to avoid pesticide misuse. And finally they supply the answer to these misapplications; “Persons applying insecticides should follow product instructions for safe and appropriate use. Insecticide labels that are easy to read and understand also can help prevent illnesses associated with bed bug control.”None of this changes the fact that bed bug numbers are expanding at an outrageous rate throughout the nation because of this foolish IPM mentality. In point of fact there is no such thing as IPM in structural pest control. The EPA has an irrational desire to eliminate pesticides, including pyrethrins and pyrethroids, no matter what they say publically, and so they have promoted IPM for years as an alternative. The reality is that IPM is an agricultural concept that is based on a logical foundation of threshold limits. What is the logical foundation for IPM in structural pest control? There isn’t one! Since there is no logical foundation for IPM in structural pest control IPM doesn’t exist in structural pest control except for the fact that the government says it exists. Please see The Pillars of IPM.
This whole report is nothing more than anti-pesticide scare mongering with no solutions, no insights and little value to society. Here is the whole story in a nutshell; the EPA’s ideology created the desperation these people feel and this desperation generated the folly of their actions; and folly has consequences; unfortunately the penalties of green activism is always paid for by an unsuspecting public; it is never paid for by the perpetrators.
The answer to this problem in 1946 was effective, inexpensive, easy to use chemistry that was available to everyone. If that isn't the answer to our current problem there will be no answer.
I have written extensively on this subject. Please read My Bed Bug Series.