Did the EPA create the bedbug revival?

posted at 10:55 am on August 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If it seems as though bedbugs come from another era, it’s because they generally do.  In the US, the parasitic creatures had all but disappeared, thanks to pesticide applications after World War II.  However, the EPA has banned the most effective pesticides that deal with bedbugs, and according to the Daily Caller, the approved list mainly stuns them into two-week stupors rather than eradicating them:

Around when bed bugs started their resurgence, Congress passed a major pesticides law in 1996 and the Clinton EPA banned several classes of chemicals that had been effective bed bug killers.

The debate isn’t over long-banned DDT, since modern bed bugs have developed a tolerance for that chemical. But in the pre-1996 regime, experts say, bed bugs were “collateral damage” from broader and more aggressive use of now-banned pesticides like Malathion and Propoxur.

Now some health officials are clamoring to bring those chemicals back to help solve the bed bug “emergency.” Meanwhile, EPA bureaucrats have downplayed the idea and environmentalists are pushing hard against the effort, citing safety concerns.

The issue has led to a standoff between Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, and EPA chief Lisa Jackson, who shot down Strickland’s appeals over the issue in a tersely worded letter in June.

The Jackson response rises to the level of bureaucratic art.  Strickland’s state has become one of the main battlegrounds against bedbugs, and children are particularly vulnerable.  Rather than issue a limited waiver for the use of Propoxur to eradicate the parasites, Jackson denies it on the basis of its impact on children — as though the application couldn’t be mitigated with proper access control and training.  Instead of allowing Ohio to use an effective eradication agent, Jackson offers $550,000 in “community outreach” funds, saying — I kid you not — “education and outreach are key components to bed bug control on a community-wide basis.”

Who knew education and outreach could be so toxic?  Those bedbugs should be shaking in, er, our beds.

Instead, the EPA only allows a few weak-tea pesticides to be used in battling the bedbugs.  For Star Trek fans, think of it as attempting to fight with phasers set to stun:

According to research at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, academic headquarters for studying the six-legged beast, some strands of bed bugs can survive, zombie-like, for up to 16 days after being directly sprayed with currently used pesticides.

If you consider that in most instances insects are intended to die shortly after coming into brief contact with pesticide residue, that’s pretty dramatic.

It’s not just dramatic, it creates a repeating problem.  Using approved pesticides will likely bring immediate relief from the problem, but that relief is a mere deception.  Once the effects wear off, the same bugs will become active again within two weeks, recreating the problem all over again, and forcing victims to pay over and over again for applications of useless pesticides rather than solving the problem the first time with a pesticide that works.

It’s yet another demonstration of clueless government bureaucracy, unwilling to understand the needs of its citizens.  We don’t need to let the bedbugs bite when we have the means necessary to eradicate them.


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I use to crack up thinking of how my Grandparents fought bed bugs, they’d put a ring of kerosene around the bed, safer then chemicals?

Rbastid on August 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Maybe. Probably not as bad as gasoline at least; that stuff is downright toxic.

Dark-Star on August 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM

The only good thing about the EPA, is that they usually telegraph changes such as these.

Some people think I’m weird for stocking up on things that are under attack. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out, sometimes it does.

Hoarding ant killer containing diazinon was certainly helpful (now I can’t kill them no matter what I use).

I’m sure my lightbulb stock will be put to good use, too.

reaganaut on August 30, 2010 at 1:57 PM

I use to crack up thinking of how my Grandparents fought bed bugs, they’d put a ring of kerosene around the bed, safer then chemicals?

Rbastid on August 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM

1. Kerosene IS A MIXTURE OF CHEMICALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Tends to cut down smoking in bed.

Bubba Redneck on August 30, 2010 at 2:21 PM

The issue has led to a standoff between Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, and EPA chief Lisa Jackson, who shot down Strickland’s appeals over the issue in a tersely worded letter in June.

I challenge anyone to read that letter and honestly describe it as “tersely worded.”

Tom_Shipley on August 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Don’t be mean to the critters. Catch and release should be tried first. Relocate them.

seven on August 30, 2010 at 2:47 PM

could be worse – Bed Bugs on the ESA list anyone?

jbtripp on August 30, 2010 at 2:54 PM

always hoped for a Star Trek/Doctor Who cross over

Doctor Zhivago on August 30, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Q

Kralizec on August 30, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Don’t be mean to the critters. Catch and release should be tried first. Relocate them.

seven on August 30, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Protect them. Compensate the infested on a per-bite basis.

Kralizec on August 30, 2010 at 2:55 PM

I kill for a living and have for some 22 years now. I watched the Bedbugs come crawling over the last 12 or 13 years here in Alaska and no one cared, ’til now. Now that their numbers are doubling every few months people are getting interested.
I called our EPA guys up here about a month ago to ask about possible new products for treating the beggars and they said, “What outbreak?”.
sigh….

Army Brat on August 30, 2010 at 3:02 PM

I suffered a bedbug infestation about four years ago. It took weeks to get rid of the little SOBs and months before I could relax in bed again with any confidence that they weren’t coming back.

So when considering the harmful effects of pesticide, it’s also important to consider the harmful effects of going months without restful sleep.

Bedbugs make you go kind of insane, because they feed on you in your most vulnerable moments. Just try to relax knowing that they’re going to crawl out of the woodworks and start feasting on you at 5:00 in the morning.

Kensington on August 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

yah know…since propoxur is a relatively low LD-50 level carbamate…and Sevin dust is a very nearly identical carbamate…

“It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” Yep…it sure is…sure enough…and I bet those bedbugs have got the EPA’s phone number in their little Rolodex.

TexasEngineer on August 30, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Tom_Shipley on August 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM

I agree with you. A two page letter to say “no” doesn’t exactly sound terse to me. I’d guess that Jonathan Strong meant something along the lines of “tensely,” which is a little clumsy, too. Best to avoid adverbs as a rule anyway.

Ed Morrissey on August 30, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Does anyone but me wonder why all these things that were eradicated many years ago are starting to appear again, lice,bedbugs,food contamination, and are dealt with like it is a normal thing, these are things that are normal in third world countries, is that what we are now???

God save this great nation.

concernedsenior on August 30, 2010 at 3:42 PM

1. Kerosene IS A MIXTURE OF CHEMICALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

So is the water you drink (oxygen and hydrogen), the baking powder in your biscuits (sodium bicarbonate), and the sunscreen you slather on your skin.

2. Tends to cut down smoking in bed.

Bubba Redneck on August 30, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Smoking in bed is foolish beyond description. Besides injuring your health from the cancer sticks, you’re also running the risk of burning down the building you’re sleeping in.

Fall asleep at the wrong time and you’ve just left burning materials unattended around flammable materials…

Dark-Star on August 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I think the letter should have been much shorter. Something on the order of:

————-
Dear EPA:

We have an immediate Public Health problem. We have the means to solve it. We are going to solve it.

This is what I was ELECTED to do. You were NOT elected.

LEAD, FOLLOW, or GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!

Not yours truly, but the people’s

Gov. Ted Strickland

————-

(I can dream, can’t I…)

landlines on August 30, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Don’t be mean to the critters. Catch and release should be tried first. Relocate them.

seven on August 30, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Protect them. Compensate the infested on a per-bite basis.

Kralizec on August 30, 2010 at 2:55 PM

I think all bedbugs should be mailed to the EPA for further analysis.

landlines on August 30, 2010 at 3:54 PM

I think all bedbugs should be mailed to the EPA for further analysis.

landlines on August 30, 2010 at 3:54 PM

This mirrors what I was thinking: catch the bloodthirsty little varmints, place them carefully into an envelope, and mail them directly to the home of Ms. Jackson, as well as to her office.

coppertop on August 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

I was just looking at a system called “Cryonite”.
It’s nothing more than CO2. Released in to cracks and crevices where the beggars hide it freezes their bodies, fluids and kills em’ right freakin’ now. As long as contact is made they die.
You can also cook em’. There are systems for raising the temp in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything in excess of 120 for 20 minutes kills all bugs including Bedbugs. The trick is to get the heat to penetrate to the center of whatever their hiding in.
Hmmm…I wonder if a bait system using poisoned blood could be created… Kinda gross but…if they would feed on it…? There’s prolly someone out there working on such a system…I hope.

Army Brat on August 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

It would do no good to send these bugs to Ms.Jackson.
Have you never heard of “Professional Courtesy”? It’s very unlikely that the one parasite would feed on the other…

Army Brat on August 30, 2010 at 4:31 PM

And lets not forget the resurgence of all the old things we thought were eradicated, yet people listen to celebritites and refuse to vaccinate their kids.

di butler on August 30, 2010 at 4:37 PM

some strands of bed bugs can survive, zombie-like, for up to 16 days after being directly sprayed with currently used pesticides

Zombie bedbugs!!!!!

Dead of the Living Night“?

profitsbeard on August 30, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Meanwhile, EPA bureaucrats have downplayed the idea and environmentalists are pushing hard against the effort, citing safety concerns.

Yeah, until they end up with them. Then suddenly it will be an “EMERGENCY!”.

GarandFan on August 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Better do something for the children, liberals. On second thought better not. You’ve done enough.

abcurtis on August 30, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Ironically, Tetram and other cholinesterase inhibitors were found in the 1950′s to be uniquely effective against mites.

Unfortunately, most insecticides tend to be nerve agents which are basically deadly to anything carelessly exposed to them.

Of course in the US, it is possible to have trained individuals carefuly deploy otherwise-hazardous chemicals… if the government would use logic.

But no, they don’t trust Americans, (those chumps outside the political class) to deploy chemicals without killing people, so they would much rather have the bugs kill people and create a crisis that they may exploit.

But don’t worry. Somehow the political class will survive the mites with careful use of exemptions and grandfathering.

After all, its one thing to not pay taxes like all those other chumps, but it’s a whole other thing to have to get bitten by pests like those commoner-filth, racist plant-murderers that slave for the political class.

Jones Zemkophill on August 30, 2010 at 10:54 PM

A buddy of mine was afflicted by bedbugs. His back looked like he’d been stabbed repeatedly by a pen-knife. He said the pain was amazing. Everyone in his apartment complex was afflicted. It messed with his nervous system so badly he thought he was being bitten constantly during the day. I can’t imagine how badly young children would be affected. Can you?

theCork on August 30, 2010 at 11:27 PM

Home made DDT

agmartin on August 31, 2010 at 4:44 AM

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