Wednesday, September 1, 2010

America Goes Buggy Over Bed Bugs

By Alan Caruba

When The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and all other media in America begin to devote lots of space and time to the subject of bed bugs, you know America has a real pest problem.

Uniquely, I know a lot of pest control professionals because I have worked closely with the industry for a quarter century providing public relations services.

So let me say that I have the ANSWER to the nation’s plague of bed bugs.

It’s called PESTICIDES.

Not just any pesticides, but specifically the ones that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has successfully banned or forced pesticide manufacturers to stop registering or manufacturing because of the cost involved.

The truth you will never read elsewhere is that there are pesticides that will rid the nation of this massive bed bug population explosion and they will do so rapidly. Can you imagine an end to the current bed bug infestations just about everywhere in say, a month?

The problem is that the pesticides I have in mind are not available because the EPA has removed them from use by either pest control professionals or consumers. Meanwhile, pest control professionals are doing everything they can with the methods available to them, all the time being called unreliable or worse. The options they have at their disposal are few and usually expensive.

The public keeps being told that bed bugs are resistant to many of the presently available pesticides. That’s true. There is one, however, that does work against them. It’s Propoxur, a carbamate, and pest control professionals and state health officials alike are waiting for an emergency exemption to use it because the label permitting its use is already in existence. A pesticide can only be used against the insect pests for which it has received a label registration.

Propoxur used to be available, but in 1996 the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) was passed and changed the rules under which individual pesticides were deemed toxic. Instead of meeting a safety factor rating of, say 100, FQPA demanded a new rating of 1,000. It’s call a “risk cup” and it swallows perfectly good pesticides whole and makes them go away. It was one of those arbitrary and bureaucratic rulings that had no relationship to the actual science or even the risk involved.

That’s how environmentalists who want to end the use of all pesticides work the angles. They find ways to get legislation and regulations passed that effectively eliminate any rational reason for a manufacturer to spend some $300 million to bring a new pesticide to market. Then, after one has been working successfully for fifteen years, the EPA requires that more money be spent to re-register it for use despite ample evidence that it poses no health hazard when properly applied.

That’s a rigged game and, ultimately, it is rigged against Americans who understandably expect and want to be pest-free.

Now, why would environmentalists want to end the use of pesticides? Because, without them, insect and rodent pests spread disease and disease kills people.

If there is one thing that really bothers environmentalists it is the presence of human beings on planet Earth. Scratch a Green and they will tell you there are too many people and they need too much food, too much water, and take up too much space to exist.

The fewer number of pesticides that are permitted for use, the sooner the pests will develop resistance to them. That is one reason the bed bug population is thriving. As a colleague of mine points out, however, “Resistance is the pattern in nature. Plants have an arsenal of pesticides they naturally produce to ward off attack by insects, and they need them, because insects develop resistance to what they are using to defend themselves.”

“If bed bugs were transmitting some sort of deadly disease,” says my colleague, “we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We would get Dursban tomorrow and bed bugs would be gone by the end of the week.”

The problem, however, is that the EPA forced Dow Chemical Company to stop making Dursban available to consumers several years ago. It fell into the “risk cup.”

Why is there a massive bed bug population explosion in the U.S.? Ask the EPA.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Abby Normal said...

Follow the money - always follow the money, someone somewhere has struck a deal or benefitted from the current situation under the guise of being better for everyone else.....

Daniel Kandy said...

You'd be okay with me coming to your house and spraying a known carcinogen around you and your family?

Maybe I'm a naive or delusional or just plan evil environmentalist, but I think the public health risks caused by some of these chemicals are worth consideration

Alan Caruba said...

Daniel, you're not just naive or delusional, but you are quite ignorant about how pest control professionals actually use pesticides to protect people's health and property.

All you see is some chemical someone has told you is toxic. Well, salt can be toxic too.

The reason for the bed bug explosion is the LACK of pesticides to knock down its population.

Unless, of course, you would prefer to have bed bugs? If that's the case, sweet dreams.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine using pesticides on my bed. I purchased a mattress protector specifically for bed bugs. I hope it helps. I live in Salt Lake City and i don't believe the problem is as bad as other places.

Unknown said...

Hi, I read your post about pest control and wanted to mention that I recently launched and have been trying to spread the word. If possible, I would like to discuss helping me out with a link to our new site.

Alan Caruba said...

A very impressive website, but my blog is not devoted to pest control except for the occasional blog that takes note of a widespread problem like bed bugs.