August 14, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an alert for consumers warning of dangers associated with improper bedbug pesticide treatments.
Bedbug infestations have been widely in the news lately, especially in New York. Retail stores including New York’s Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister temporarily closed to combat infestations of the tiny bloodsucking insects, according to The New York Daily News.
Bedbugs are a small, parasitic insect that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Named “bedbugs” because they often inhabit sleeping areas where they feed on unsuspecting victims at night, they can also feed during the day and inhabit places other than a bed including chairs and couches, folds of curtains, in drawer joints, in electrical receptacles and appliances, under loose wallpaper and wall hangings — even in the head of a screw.
Bedbug infestations are difficult to control. Along with a rise in bedbug outbreaks, the EPA warns that cases in which individuals or companies who offer to control bedbugs with unrealistic promises of effectiveness or low cost are also increasing. In some bedbug situations, pesticides not intended for indoor residential applications have been improperly used or applied at greater rates than the label allows.
“While controlling bedbugs is challenging, consumers should never use, or allow anyone else to use, a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use, as indicated on the label,” the EPA alert stated. “Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat for bedbugs can make you, your family, and your pets sick. It can also make your home unsafe to live in – and may not solve the bedbug problem.”
The Associated Press reports that Bergdorf Goodman, a New York retailer who has not had any infestation problems, hired a bedbug-hunting beagle to patrol the store for bedbugs at night after closing.
The EPA recommends these non-chemical methods to control bedbugs:
- · Removing clutter where bedbugs can hide
- · Using mattress covers designed to contain bedbugs
- · Sealing cracks and crevices
- · Vacuuming rugs, and upholstered furniture thoroughly and frequently, as well as vacuuming under beds (take the vacuum bag outside immediately and dispose in a sealed trash bag)
- · Washing and drying clothing and bed sheets at high temperatures (heat can kill bedbugs)
- · Placing clean clothes in sealable plastic bags when possible
- · Being alert and monitoring for bedbugs so they can be treated before a major infestation occurs
If you need to use pesticides, the EPA says to follow these tips to ensure your safety and that the product works:
- · Before using any pesticide product, READ THE LABEL FIRST, then follow the directions for use
- · Check the product label to make sure it is identified for use on bedbugs. If bedbugs are not listed on the label, the pesticide has not been tested for bedbugs and it may not be effective
- · Any pesticide product label without an EPA registration number has not been reviewed by EPA to determine how well the product works
- · Make sure that the pesticide has been approved for indoor use
For more information, see Bedbugs on the EPA website.