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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bedbug Summit: Activity As A Substitute For Accomplishment

By, Rich Kozlovich

In the 1800’s there was no greater showman than P.T. Barnum. His flair for the extravagant dazzled the crowds. His museum in New York City was a “combination of zoo, museum, lecture hall, wax museum, theater and freak show. Barnum noticed that people were lingering too long at his exhibits. He posted signs indicating "This Way to the Egress". Not knowing that "Egress" was another word for "Exit", people followed the signs to what they assumed was a fascinating exhibit...and ended up outside”. If they weren’t done seeing what they wanted to see….they had to pay again.

I couldn't help but chuckle and shake my head at the thought of those who are directly responsible for this plague of bedbugs now wanting to find a solution through this big public relations fest. What better way to deflect attention away from the real perpetrators of this mess, themselves. P.T. Barnum would have been truly impressed with this trompe l'oeil!

I followed Pete Grasso's Blog comments about this "summit", and kudos to Pete who did an excellent job. Separate breakout groups were created on the second day to outline suggestions as to what should be done in five categories:

• Research
• Role of Government
• Consumer Education and Communication
• Pest Management Professional's (PMP) Education and Training
• Role of Property Owners and Property Managers
Pete listed the suggestions recognizing that there was bound to be some duplication. There were; but even the duplicates were slightly different. Here is the breakdown as I saw it, although some could slop over into other categories, and someone could have easily created sub-categories while organizing the suggestions, I wanted to simplify it, not complicate it further.

There were 34 suggestions that would expand the bureaucracy at every level of government, expand training and licensure requirements and potentially mandate IPM. There were 15 for expanded public information and who should be doing it, 10 for grant money for the professional grant chasers, 5 that would shift the blame, and 9 that actual had some worth, however….. no one blamed EPA. Oh yes, there was one who wanted to do this again and one who wanted to do this regularly. I have "condensed" the suggestions for the 34 regulatory expansion suggestions into some type of logical order as to what would occur if these "ideas" were to be implemented.

The government needs to recognize bed bugs as a public health pest. Then the government needs to form an inter-agency task force to address bed bugs, involving all levels of government with a definition of each level’s role, with a joint task force made up of the Environmental Protection Agency and The Center for Disease Control to better coordinate these agencies and levels of government.

They will then create a tracking system for better data from PMP feedback which will be the basis to justify the creation of a national bed bug foundation where professional pest controllers can report infestations to help create, and have access to a confidential database, and allow (or require) self-policing by PMPs to report misinformation, misapplication and the use of illegal products.

This will also act as a multi-agency Web site as a clearinghouse of bed bug information under the auspices of the EPA who will take the leadership role for all stakeholder parties; who will then form a committee or panel to explore adopting best practices and guidelines for the pest management industry drawing from previously developed materials.

They in turn will require states to set sanitary guidelines specifically for bed bugs and require that all local governments have consistent message/rules within local governments in line with nationwide training standards which will allow for a legislative bridge based on education, including legislation for disposal of infested bedding . In this way best practices can be harmonized and implemented over different jurisdictions.

In order for this to work at every level, voluntary standards should be established, or if necessary, imposed at a national level for accreditation for bed bug specialists, implement pesticide applicator certification for bed bugs, requiring a separate licensing for bed bug treatment, with continuing and specialized education opportunities for PMPs.

No pest controller will be allowed to treat for bedbugs without a certification program for professional pest controllers. This should be monitored by the National Pest Management Association who will provide training at all levels and create a separate, more stringent Quality Pro program that can initiate IPM standards, which should be mandated as soon as possible. All this will help people find qualified PMPs, which shall be encouraged through public education through an outreach program and corresponding web site which will be designed and maintained by the EPA and will carry standardized fact sheets with realistic treatment definitions that will support and promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The EPA will review bed bug efficacy protocols and report the results. This will then in turn create a need to hold mini bed bug summits in EPA regions.
When organized in this almost sounds rational… even to me. The reality is this; the EPA started this whole mess in 1972 when is was created by Richard Nixon with the intent of banning DDT, irrespective of the fact that they didn’t have the science to justify it, which William Doyle Ruckelshaus himself admitted when he acknowledged that it was a political decision, not a science based one. Technically, it didn’t much matter as we had a host of products in our armory to defeat just about every pest that attacks man and his environment. Philosophically it was devastating because DDT’s ban has been the basis for every rationale that attempts to justify the elimination of all pesticides and for every action taken by the greenies in and out of government ever since.

Unfortunately, no one seemed to get the message then, and we amazingly can’t seem to get it now. The goal of the greenies and their acolytes at EPA is the elimination of pesticides. Fraudulent science, the invalid interpretation of science and theoretical health scares was used at EPA under Carol Browner in 1996 to justify the Food Quality Protection Act; that is how we lost chlorpyriphos and a host of other products that had been used safely for decades. That certainly should have been a huge wakeup call! It wasn’t for large number of pest controllers or for those in leadership positions around the country. IPM became the mantra leading up to “green” pest control within the industry.

What would have happened if it turned out the bedbugs were very real vectors for disease? Currently it is believed that they are not, but we do know that there are a host of vectors out there that only pesticides protect us from. If we continue down this path we aren’t just going to have “quality of life” issues, such as allergic reactions, and infections from scratching the bitten area; we are going to start having body counts. We need to stop this nonsense about “bedbug summits” as if this is going to fix anything.

The fact of the matter is that the structural pest control industry already knows how to kill bedbugs. We don't need specialized training, certification and licensure. This is a singular issue with a two -fold solution.

a. Place the blame for this problem at the feet of those responsible, the EPA and the green movement
b. Return products that work or generate new ones

Everything else is window dressing, misdirection and activity as a substitute for accomplishment. Of the 9 common sense suggestions, two were for the return of old products and easier registration for new ones. Currently it costs about three hundred million dollars (that is $300,000,000) to bring a pesticide to market and structural pest control doesn’t use enough (anywhere near enough) to justify that cost and the patents only last so long. I have been told that they last for seven years and others have said that they last twenty. I don’t know which is correct, but either way….they have to sell an awful lot of pesticide to make up that R&D money.

That leaves these solutions; return products or change the labels of current products. All of that other costly, intrusive and ineffectual claptrap will be unnecessary. However, I do not believe that will happen if we do not fix the blame for this plague right where it belongs. We need to point the finger of blame right at the EPA. We need to expose their irrational and misanthropic regulations along with the irrational and misanthropic actions of the greenies that drive and support them.


1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate the kind comments about Pete's work, and I believe he did a marvelous job as well.

    In addition, I always appreciate your comments and thoughts on the most pressing issues facing the industry today.

    And lastly, for those of you who haven't seen it, check out Rich's last meeting as president of the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association at my blog here:

    It's under the heading "Great Night With Good Friends".