NYC Pest Control for Bed Bugs Company in the News

Bed Bug Forum Set Tuesday At S-W School

Source: New Jersey Herald

November 28, 2012

After several reported incidents involving the discovery of bedbugs in two of the district’s three schools, the Sussex-Wantage School District is planning a public informational forum on its pest management policies Tuesday at 7 p.m., in the Sussex Middle School auditorium.

The forum, which the district has been planning for several weeks, comes just over a month after district officials insisted their pest management procedures had been reviewed by an official with the state Department of Environmental Protection and deemed satisfactory. Superintendent Edward Izbicki said the review was conducted by Tim Boyle, an official with the DEP’s Bureau of Pesticide Compliance.

Since then, multiple phone calls and emails to Boyle have gone unanswered. Boyle is, however, slated to speak at Tuesday’s forum, which also will feature a presentation by Rich Chiarella, CEO of Accurate Pest Control, in Roxbury.

But information provided last week by DEP spokesman Larry Hajna appeared to be at odds with accounts by school officials and further suggested that whatever notification procedures already were in place concerning the use of pesticides may not have been followed properly by the school district.

Furthermore, there was no clean bill of health given by the DEP concerning the presence of bedbugs, or lack thereof, in district schools. That’s because, according to Hajna, the DEP does not get involved in monitoring for bedbugs, which are considered a nuisance but are not considered a spreader of disease or an environmental hazard.

Over the last two months, there have been three separate incidents involving the discovery of bedbugs at Sussex Middle School and four separate incidents involving the discovery of bedbugs at the Wantage School.

In another separate incident, two siblings at the Clifton E. Lawrence School also were found with bedbug bites, though no actual bugs were reported on either child. District officials have since indicated that the same children’s older siblings are believed to be the source of bedbugs reported at the other two schools and that the mother of the children has confirmed that their home is infested.

But although multiple reports were filed with the Sussex County Health Department, district officials took no steps to notify parents beyond an initial notice that all district children were given to take home in September advising of a single bedbug found in a Wantage School classroom. The same notice further stated that “no other bedbugs were found in any of our other schools.”

Five days later, a second notice went home advising of an “emergency application of pesticide treatment” to be done at the Wantage School following the dismissal of classes that afternoon. However, the district later provided a reporter with a written statement saying that the pesticide treatment had been done strictly as a “precautionary measure” and that, furthermore, the DEP had “reviewed our progress and policies and found we (had) followed all procedures properly” — an assertion contradicted by Hajna.

The distinction between “emergency” and “precautionary” in this case is critical because under state law, public schools are required to provide parents and all other interested parties with at least 72 hours’ advance notice except when the treatment is considered an emergency. For a violation to have occurred, the DEP would have had to determine that the treatment did not meet the requirements of an emergency.

Hajna emphasized that the DEP was not contemplating any punitive measures against the district or anyone individually for the procedural violations, which he said were minor. But, he said, “We went to the school, talked to them, and told them that under IPMA (Integrated Pest Management Act) regulations, they’re supposed to give the parents advance notice. They corrected the situation and understand that in the future, they must provide proper notification.”

The failure to provide at least 72 hours’ notice regarding the pesticide treatment and to notify the middle-school parents about the bedbugs reportedly found there, as was done following the initial report at the Wantage School, had a number of parents simmering after the reported incidents came to light last month.

District officials have since touted a number of steps that have been taken to control and prevent the spread of bedbugs, including the installation of a NightWatch bedbug trap and monitoring system that uses heat and carbon dioxide to trap and kill bedbugs. The manufacturer of the device states that by creating the same carbon dioxide patterns of their preferred human hosts, the system entices bedbugs to enter the trap, where their presence can be observed. The idea is that if some are trapped, others are usually present in the room.

Bedbugs are small insects that, while visible to the naked eye, are difficult to detect at first. By day, they hide in the seams of mattresses, bedding, linens, curtains, rugs, carpets and clothing. By night, while their human hosts are asleep, these “vampire insects” come out to feed on human blood. A common misconception is that bedbugs are found mainly in filthy environments. In fact, bedbugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts, and since they feed on human blood, their presence has little to do with the cleanliness of an environment, though clutter can increase the likelihood of their nesting.

Although bedbugs are not considered to be spreaders of disease, their bites are extremely itchy and can sometimes cause allergic reactions. The itching not only can cause loss of sleep but also can lead to excessive scratching that sometimes increases the chances of a secondary skin infection.

Bedbugs are also expert hitchhikers and travel by stowing away in book bags, backpacks, clothing, stuffed toys, luggage or any other objects that people carry.

At one time, they were thought to have been virtually eradicated from the United States. However, they have since made a resurgence, thanks in part to travel and immigration patterns that have allowed the pests to make their way here from other parts of the world.

Glenn Waldorf, director of Bell Environmental Services, in Fairfield, said that in his work as a licensed pest control technician, he has encountered a number of school districts that have had to grapple with bedbug problems.

Waldorf said there is not necessarily a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problem. But, he said, “there are certainly best practices that we recommend, and because bedbugs are such a fearful issue, it’s important for school districts to have a consistent protocol and take a proactive approach.”

One approach, which has been used in the East Rutherford schools, involves relying on dogs’ superior sense of smell to sniff out the pests. In Trenton, where bedbugs were sighted last November, the policy is to contact, as discreetly as possible, the families of children found to have carried bedbugs into school and to have city health officials inspect the homes. The children are not allowed to return to school until the house has been cleaned.

Waldorf said school districts can take further steps by educating children as part of their health curriculum. He said his firm produces a number of educational materials, some of which are offered free at www.roscoestips.com.

“Vigilance is your best defense,” he said. “The more proactive steps you can take now, the more confidence people will have that you’re taking the problem seriously — and the more money you may end up saving in the long run.”