Chicago vs. Bed Bugs

Advocating policy to control the spread of bed bugs in the City of Chicago

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New York City’s New Bed Bug Bill

Posted by Jessica on December 6, 2008

Our adviser, friend, and mentor, Renee Corea, co-founder of New York vs. Bed Bugs, caught wind of something fantastic today.

Apparently, the New York City Council just introduced a new bill “To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the department of mental health and hygiene to establish a bed bug training program for pest control”.  Awesome!

See, this is really good news for New York City for several reasons.  First, I think it’s fair to say that there are lots of pest management companies out there everywhere that claim to be trained and even certified to treat bed bug infestations.  And, to be honest, they’re probably not being dishonest with this claim.  That’s because most cities or states don’t require pest management companies to attend specific training and certification programs to learn how to treat bed bug infestations properly.  And that’s because most cities or states don’t have specific training and certification programs for them to learn how to treat bed bug infestations properly.

And they should.

This is because bed bug infestations are extremely difficult to treat.  Bed bugs, you see, are not like any other pests, for many reasons.  You can’t just set off a bug bomb and get rid of bed bugs, because that will just make them scatter through your walls and into another room (or your neighbor’s apartment!).  And you can’t just haphazardly spray a bunch of pesticides around the bedroom and get rid of bed bugs, either, because their eggs will hatch in a week or two and you’ll end up with bed bugs all over again.  You can’t throw out your mattress and get rid of them, you can’t vacuum till you fall over and get rid of them, and you can’t launder every stitch of clothing you own and get rid of them.

What you can (and must) do is hire a professional who knows which combination of any of these methods, plus a few more, might get rid of them.  And in order for any professional to know this, he or she must be educated and trained to treat bed bugs.

The University of Minnesota’s Control of Bed Bugs in Residences says:

“Because of their unique hiding behavior, because they can feed without detection, because of their ability to spread, inspection and control methods must be far more thorough and extensive than previously encountered with other pests (such as cockroaches, ants and rodents)”.

And Bed Bugs Limited, a website maintained by David Cain, a scientist and renowned pest management professional in the United Kingdom confirms this:

There is currently no effective home treatment solution despite some of the claims made, although certain house keeping activities will help reduce infestations. To remove an infestation usually requires the assistance of an experienced and trained pest controller. This is mainly due to the fact that once eggs have been laid in a property they are almost impossible to kill until hatched and increasingly poorly treated properties often drive the infestation into areas that are difficult to treat.

So, back to New York City’s new bed bug bill.  It’s a great approach to beginning to solve the problem, I think.  I mean, cities have to start somewhere, right?  Why not start from the ground up?  That’s what the purpose of this bill seems to be to me, anyway: to start training New York’s pest management professionals properly so that they can start treating bed bug infestations properly.

Sure, it’s a little late in the game– New York’s bed bug epidemic has been increasing unchecked for a long time– but it’s never too late to start doing the right thing, is it?

Here’s what the bill says.  City of Chicago, pay attention.  This is what our city needs to do, and soon:

§17-194 Bed bug techniques training program.

a. The department shall establish a program to train exterminators in the proper techniques to eliminate bed bugs. Upon successful completion of this program, the exterminator shall be considered trained pursuant to this provision, in the proper techniques of bed bug extermination.

b. The department shall establish a program to train property owners in the proper techniques to eliminate bed bugs and to prevent the transfer and spread of any bed bug infestation. Upon successful completion of this program, such owner shall be considered trained pursuant to this provision in the proper techniques of bed bug extermination.

c. Any training programs developed pursuant to this section shall include, but not be limited to, identification of bed bugs and understanding their life cycle, inspection procedures to identify infested areas and furnishings, techniques to prepare infested sites for containment and extermination, encasement techniques, and proper techniques for the moving and disposal of infested furnishings and materials. Any training program should also provide instruction on which techniques and pesticides are inappropriate for bed bug elimination.

d. The department shall make available on its website general information on bed bug awareness, infestation and control.

e. The department shall ensure that a toll-free hotline number, such as the 311 citizen service center, shall be made available to the public for any person seeking to report an incidence of bed bug infestation or to request information on bed bugs.

f. A list of exterminators trained pursuant to this section shall be made available to the public on the department’s website, upon request by calling the 311 citizen service center, and upon request in person at department offices to be located in each of the five boroughs, as determined by the department.

§2. This local law shall take effect ninety days after its enactment, provided, however, that the department of health and mental hygiene shall take any necessary actions to implement this law, including the promulgation of rules, prior to such effective date.

I’m smiling.  A lot of this looks real familiar to me, folks.  In fact, I think most of it is what we’re trying to push the City of Chicago to do through the tasks we’re completing on our Activism page.

This bill touches on some critical issues– things like property management and/or landlord involvement, education, and training; a citywide toll-free hotline for reporting and tracking bed bug infestations; mandatory training and certification for professionals provided and regulated by the city.  It’s a great start.

Congrats, NYC.  You’re on your way.  Now let’s just hope the bill passes!

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2 Responses to “New York City’s New Bed Bug Bill”

  1. Thanks, Jessica. Your support means the world to us! It is good news and I’m convinced that this has been made possible because many cities have gone before us and tried to devise solutions to a problem that will not go away on its own. We are indeed late to the game, which means our work will be more difficult, but, like you say, we have to start somewhere.

    Thank you again for writing about this and articulating why it’s important.

    You’re the best.

  2. Jessica said

    Well, Renee, Chicago vs. Bed Bugs would not exist if you and your members hadn’t worked so hard to accomplish so much at New York vs. Bed Bugs, you know. Obviously, I think you’re pretty great, too. 🙂

    Yes, you have a long road ahead of you, in terms of advocating policy in New York like the ones adopted by other cities, but your city is on its way. Important people– people who can make things happen– are recognizing and validating the issue, and that’s huge.

    Keep on keepin’ on, my friend. We’re behind you 100% over here in Chicago.

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