Safe pest control is a team effort and everyone has a role to play. Just like building owners have a duty to properly maintain property, residents are responsible for keeping their living spaces clean and reporting building maintenance problems to owners or managers.
Pests such as cockroaches and mice are far too common in many NYC households, especially in low-income neighborhoods with poorly maintained housing. In some neighborhoods, over 50% of households report seeing cockroaches every day and mice within the last 3 months. Cockroach and mouse body parts and droppings affect indoor air quality and can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in some children and adults. In NYC, asthma affects over 1 million New Yorkers.
Housing-related health concerns include asthma episodes triggered by exposure to dust mites, cockroaches, pets, and rodents. The existence of cockroaches, rats, and mice mean that they can also be vectors for significant problems that affect health and well-being. They are capable of transmitting diseases to humans. According to a 1997 American Housing Survey, rats and mice infested 2.7 million of 97 million housing units. A CDC-sponsored survey of two major American cities documented that nearly 50% of the premises were infected with rats and mice.This chapter deals with disease vectors and pests as factors related to the health of households.
Disease Vectors and PestsIntegrated pest management (IPM) techniques are necessary to reduce the number of pests that threaten human health and property. This systems approach to the problem relies on more than one technique to reduce or eliminate pests. It can be visualized best as concentric rings of protection that reduce the need for the most risky and dangerous options of control and the potential for pests to evolve and develop. It typically involves using some or all of the following steps:
The above actions are discussed in more detail in the following section on the four basic strategies for controlling rodents.Most homeowners have encountered a problem with rodents, cockroaches, fleas, flies, termites, or fire ants. These pests destroy property or carry disease, or both, and can be a problem for rich and poor alike.
According to the Military Pest Management Handbook (MPMH) , rats and mice are very suspicious of any new objects or food found in their surroundings. This characteristic is one reason rodents can survive in dangerous environments. This avoidance reaction accounts for prebaiting (baiting without poisoning) in control programs. Initially, rats or mice begin by taking only small amounts of food. If the animal becomes ill from a sublethal dose of poison, its avoidance reaction is strengthened, and a poisoning program becomes extremely difficult to complete. If rodents are hungry or exposed to an environment where new objects and food are commonly found, such as a dump, their avoidance reaction may not be as strong; in extreme cases of hunger, it may even be absent.
Four management strategies exist for controlling cockroaches. The first is prevention. This strategy includes inspecting items being carried into the home and sealing cracks and crevices in kitchens, bathrooms, exterior doors, and windows. Structural modifications would include weather stripping and pipe collars. The second strategy is sanitation. This denies cockroaches food, water, and shelter. These efforts include quickly cleaning food particles from shelving and floors; timely washing of dinnerware; and routine cleaning under refrigerators, stoves, furniture, and similar areas. If pets are fed indoors, pet food should be stored in tight containers and not left in bowls overnight. Litter boxes should be cleaned routinely. Access should be denied to water sources by fixing leaking plumbing, drains, sink traps, and aquaria. Elimination of shelter can be partially accomplished by purging clutter, such as papers and soiled clothing and rags. The third strategy is trapping. Commercially available cockroach traps can be used to capture roaches and serve as a monitoring device. The most effective trap placement is against vertical surfaces, primarily corners, and under sinks, in cabinets, basements, and floor drains. The fourth strategy is chemical control. The use of chemicals typically indicates that the other three strategies have been applied incorrectly. Numerous insecticides are available and appropriate information is obtainable from EPA.
TermitesAccording to Gold et al. , subterranean termites are the most destructive insect pests of wood in the United States, causing more than $2 billion in damage each year. Annually, this is more property damage than that caused by fire and windstorms combined. In the natural world, these insects are beneficial because they break down dead trees and other wood materials that would otherwise accumulate. This biomass breakdown is recycled to the soil as humus. MPMH , on the other hand, notes that these insects can damage a building so severely it may have to be replaced. Termites consume wood and other cellulose products, such as paper, cardboard, and fiberboard. They will also destroy structural timbers, pallets, crates, furniture, and other wood products. In addition, they will damage many materials they do not normally eat as they search for food. The tunneling efforts of subterranean termites can penetrate lead- and plastic-covered electric cable and cause electrical system failure. In nature, termites may live for years in tree stumps or lumber beneath concrete buildings before they penetrate hairline cracks in floors and walls, as well as expansion joints, to search for food in areas such as interior door frames and immobile furniture. Termite management costs to homeowners are exceeded only by cockroach control costs.
The proper method to manage the mosquito problem in a community is through an organized integrated pest management system that includes all approaches that safely manage the problem. The spraying of toxic agents is but one of many approaches.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides rat control guidance and information for homeowners and pest control professionals. You can get information on how to inspect for, prevent, and exterminate properties for rats, as well as learn what to do when you receive a Health Department violation.
New York City housing and health codes require that landlords maintain apartments free from pests. Pesticides should not be the only way you manage pests. Non-chemical methods of pest control are often more effective and safer than using pesticides. Landlords and families can take simple steps to reduce infestations and the use of pesticides.
The \"Preventing Rats on Your Property\" brochure explains how to recognize signs of rat infestations in buildings and on property. It shows how you can prevent and correct the conditions that attract rats and enable their building access. It gives guidelines for selecting a qualified pest control professional and safely eliminating rats on your property.
The \"How to Control Pests Safely\" brochure provides mouse and roach control tips for homeowners, tenants, and landlords. It shows step-by-step how you can protect your home from mice and cockroach infestations. It also explains how to choose and use safer pest control products in homes and lists products to avoid.
Free training is available to tenants, homeowners, and residential building supers and managers on how to safely control pests inside apartments and houses. Classes are provided upon request. Registration and schedule information is available by phone.
DC Health has established a comprehensive, sustainable and responsive rodent control and animal disease prevention program. This program will use an integrated approach that includes community outreach, surveys, abatement, enforcement and cooperation with other District agencies to protect human health and the environment.
Any living organism that causes damage, economic loss, or transmits disease may be called a pest. Pests can be animals like insects or mice, unwanted plants like weeds, or microorganisms like bacteria. Some examples of pests are termites causing damage to our homes, dandelions in the lawn, or fleas and ticks on our dogs and cats. Other common examples of pests are cockroaches, ants, spiders, bed bugs and mosquitoes. It is important to keep your home pest free as some pests transmit disease and others can cause illness. The first step to keeping your home pest-free is to keep your home clean. This means not leaving food out, cleaning dishes and pans often, and not leaving pet food out. Clean floors and countertops often. Also, seal any holes that may allow pests inside as pests may find your home a good place to make their home. Dry warm places with a supply of food and water are attractive to pests.
Pesticides are poisons that can help control pests. Pesticides can be helpful if used correctly. As pesticides are poisons, they can be harmful to your health if used incorrectly. Remember to keep children away from pesticides. It is important to use only pesticides approved for indoor use inside your home and to read the label to know how much to use. Using more pesticide that what is recommended will not do a better job and can have a harmful result. For more information on pesticides, see our Environmental Health Topics section.
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a systems approach to managing insect, mite, disease and weed pests. IPM uses a combination of the most compatible and ecologically sound pest suppression tactics to keep pest populations below levels that cause problems. IPM uses cultural, biological and chemical methods. The goal of IPM is to prevent the problems caused by unacceptable numbers of pests, rather than eliminating all pests. You can find more about safe alternatives from the U.S. EPA at epa.gov/safepestcontrol. Click here for additional information from the University of Tennessee. 59ce067264