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Pest Management

Traditional pest management practices are being replaced by an “integrated pest management,” or an IPM, approach. As defined by the EPA, IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.

Two keys to IPM are removing the food supply of pests via effective cleaning and housekeeping and sealing up places where pests can enter the public housing complex or migrate between buildings.

Bed bugs are a particular concern in many complexes. Although they can cause itchy bites on people and pets, according to the EPA, they are not known to transmit or spread diseases, unlike most public-health pests. Pesticides are only one tool to get rid of bed bugs. A comprehensive approach that includes prevention and non-chemical treatment of infestations is the best way to avoid or eliminate a problem. (See also chapter on Unit Turnaround.) A few examples of non-chemical methods of control (which may serve as advice to residents) include:

  • Removing clutter where bed bugs can hide
  • Using mattress covers designed to contain bed bugs
  • Sealing cracks and crevices
  • Vacuuming rugs and upholstered furniture thoroughly and frequently, as well as cleaning procedures and Products 25 vacuuming under beds (taking the vacuum bag outside immediately and dispose of in a sealed trash bag)
  • Washing and drying clothing and bed sheets at high temperatures (heat can kill bed bugs)
  • Placing clean clothes in sealable plastic bags when possible
  • Being alert and monitoring for bed bugs so they can be treated before a major infestation occurs.

If pesticides are used to control pests, follow these tips to ensure safety and product effectiveness:

  • Read the product label first, then follow the directions for use.
  • 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 control of bed bugs, in particular, check the product label. If bed bugs are not listed on the label, the pesticide has not been tested for bed bugs and it may not be effective.

Action Items

  • Store trash in covered receptacles outside and away from buildings.
  • Caulk holes and cracks to prevent pests from entering or moving between buildings.
  • Seal openings around pipes under sinks (pests are attracted to water).
  • Cover exhaust or vent openings exposed to the outside with wire mesh.
  • Establish rules for food cleanup and storage in community centres.
  • Remove clutter so pests have fewer hiding places.
  • Use sticky or mechanical traps rather than pesticides where possible.
  • Hire only trained, licensed, and certified pest control professionals experienced with IPM.
  • Use pesticides only where infestations occur and never as a “just in case” measure.
  • Use a targeted (pest-specific) EPA-registered pesticide and the least toxic product that will do the job (see Appendix E). Follow label directions carefully and use sparingly.
  • Avoid fogging or broadcast spraying of pesticides.
  • Provide clear advance notice to building occupants of scheduled pesticide use and apply pesticides when areas are closed or occupancy is low.

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