If Yale can’t stop them nobody can! The Ivy League, Yale School of Medicine, has another BEDBUG infestation in dorm.

Sixth bedbug infestation hits grad dorm

April 5, 2016 | by David Yaffe-Belany and Victor Wang | Yale Daily News

A brewing controversy over the management of a series of bedbug infestations in a medical student dorm has forced the Yale School of Medicine to relocate dozens of visitors scheduled to arrive on campus this Thursday for an admitted-students event.

Around 30 admitted students were slated to spend the medical school’s Second Look Weekend, a three-day charm offensive designed to showcase the University’s appeal, in an on-campus housing facility that has suffered numerous bedbug infestations since October. The Medical Student Council met last week with administrators to ask that students be relocated to a nearby hotel after a new infestation was discovered Thursday on the eighth floor of Harkness Hall, a 172-bedroom complex located on Cedar Street directly across from Yale-New Haven Hospital. And in a Monday night email to the residents of Harkness Hall, MSC President Carrie Flynn MED ’23 confirmed that the students would stay at a local hotel at the expense of the medical school.

“Given the developing nature of this situation, we have decided that it is best to provide our accepted students with lodging in a hotel rather than Harkness,” Flynn wrote in the email.

She added in the email that the MSC plans to meet with Yale Housing and the Office of Facilities to iron out a more effective strategy for dealing with future bedbug infestations.

The infestation reported last week — the sixth since October — prompted the MSC to meet on Friday with the medical school’s Director of Admissions Richard Silverman and Admissions Administrative Assistant Barbara Watts to make the case for moving the visitors to a hotel. According to one MSC representative, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topic, Silverman and Watts initially decided it would be safe to house the visiting students in Harkness, after receiving assurances from the building’s facilities superintendent, Robert Young, that the infestation was under control. Young declined to comment for this article.

But on Monday night, the admissions officers seemed to change their minds. The timing of the announcement coincided with the discovery of live bedbugs in the newly infested eighth-floor room during a follow-up inspection conducted on Monday.

“Although a careful examination of the room did not turn up any bugs, the exterminator decided to go a step further, and broke apart a plywood board that was under the mattress,” wrote Director of Graduate and Professional Student Housing George Longyear in a private email to a Harkness resident obtained by the News. “Inside the plywood board, bedbugs were found.”

In the same email, Longyear apologized for the stress the bedbug infestations have created for building residents and promised to do “everything possible to fix this situation.” Longyear did not respond to a phone call requesting comment on Monday.

The decision to relocate the visiting students to a hotel also came less than a day after News reporters contacted the medical school’s admissions department with questions about the admitted students slated to sleep in Harkness Hall.

“Admissions seemed to vacillate back and forth between taking Facilities’ word that everything was under control, versus our concerns that it isn’t,” said Kayla Isaacs MED ’19, a building resident who has closely followed the bedbug issue. “I don’t know if the impending Yale Daily News article was ultimately the reason they made this decision, but it certainly provided the situation with an extra tinge of urgency. It raised the stakes.”

Silverman and Watts did not return numerous emails and phone calls requesting comment.

Isaacs added that it would have been a public-relations “disaster” for the University to house admitted medical students in a building with a history of bedbug infestations.

“It makes no sense to take even a slight chance of having an admitted student bring bedbugs home from Yale’s Second Look,” Isaacs said. “Or to have admitted students discussing on [the online forum] Student Doctor Network the administration’s failure to protect them from unwittingly staying in a building with an ongoing bedbug problem that Admissions knew about.”

According to Harkness residents, the housing and facilities administrators’ inadequate response to previous bedbug infestations in the building raised significant doubts over whether the problem had been sufficiently contained. One resident, who said her room on the eighth floor became infested in October, complained that administrators have done a poor job communicating with residents about best practices for catching infestations.

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous because of the stigma attached to bedbugs, added that many students living in Harkness Hall feel the housing and facilities team has handled the problem with “mismanagement or even negligence.”

The resident described an incident in February in which administrators allowed a student whose room was infested to move to a different floor along with all her possessions, many of which were teeming with bedbugs. The decision to transport the belongings, which the resident described as “gross incompetence,” caused a new infestation on a different floor of the building. The student, who declined to comment on the broader bedbug issue, confirmed that her belongings carried the bedbugs to a previously uninfested floor.

“I believe Facilities is trying, but everything I’ve observed over the past few months suggests to me that they are in over their head,” the resident said. “We have been told multiple times that the problem has been resolved, only to have reports of a new room that has been affected. As far as I am concerned, if the problem is spreading, it is not under control.”

The first bedbug infestation in Harkness Hall was discovered on the eighth floor in early October. Two other rooms in the same hallway reported infestations a few days later, and a fourth was discovered in February. The fifth eighth-floor infestation was reported late last week in a different part of the same hallway that housed the first four infestations.

None of the visiting admitted students were slated to sleep on either the eighth or 10th floor of Harkness Hall. But the prospect of housing admitted students in any part of a building infested by bedbugs was apparently enough to convince the admissions office to move the visiting students.

It can be tremendously difficult to exterminate bedbugs, parasitic insects that feed on human blood and whose bites produce uncomfortable rashes. The insects, which reproduce quickly and can easily spread to adjacent rooms, thrive in bedspreads, clothing and the tiny nooks and crannies between floor and wall.

CT Pest, the pest-control company paid by the University to exterminate the bedbugs, used a heating treatment to combat the first round of infestations in October, in line with official University protocol. But the company switched to a different method to eliminate the later infestations, using the nontoxic silica dust pesticide to clear each room. Longyear confirmed in a March 2 email to a building resident that the Office of Facilities had revised its bedbug protocol after meeting with a prominent insect expert who recommended the silica dust approach.

Longyear told the same resident in an Oct. 15 email that bedbug outbreaks are generally “few and far between” at Yale.


BedBugs…they’re back or never left? at this NY High School

March 31, 2016 | by Katarina Schmieder | WIVB News 4

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — 18-year-old Ryan Blair is a senior at Lackawanna High School. He says he is fed up with the bed bug problem at his school.
Ryan described what happened to his friend who allegedly was bitten during school. Ryan said, “Her neck was swollen because it looked like a mosquito bite, and it hurt her. At first, she said it didn’t hurt, but then it started to. She had bumps all over her hand.”Ryan says the girl was sent home after visiting the nurse’s office after her supposed contact with bed bugs, and says that sometimes when he gets home from school, he has some of the same symptoms.

He wishes more would be done about this problem. “It’s slowly becoming more and more of a problem in the school that we are finding more and more bugs, and it seems like the school is not recognizing it.”

On Wednesday, parents were put on alert by the school after staff found what appeared to resemble a bed bug at the school. The letter says even though they found a potential bed bug, it does not mean the building is infested. The letter goes on to say that the school has an exterminator to treat certain rooms.

Back in December, News 4 reported that the school warned parents and students after finding the bug in a classroom. But now, Ryan wants to know, why is this happening again?

He says, “It’s disgusting, and the fact that we are seeing bugs crawling around our school, not only that, but what if a student brings one home, it’s just going to cause problems all over the place.”

News 4 tried reaching out to the district superintendent for a comment, but have yet to hear back.

Below is a copy of the letter that was sent home to parents:

bed bug letter


Disturbing Map of NYC Parks/Public Areas shows Roundup herbicide Glyphosate INCREASING

February 23, 2016 | by Julie M. Rodriguez |  Inhabitat.com

Bad news, New Yorkers — if you like to take long walks or pay visits to your local park, you’ve probably been exposed to glyphosate, the cancer-linked main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. In response to concerned citizen groups, the New York City government released a report last year detailing pesticide use by its agencies. And now, if you’d like to see whether you’re at risk, Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir have created a disturbing new map that charts every park and public area known to be treated with the toxic compound. You can view the map here.

The data shows that in 2014 alone, the city applied glyphosate 2,748 times within the city. While the recent numbers are alarming enough all on their own, what’s even worse is the fact that glyphosate use within the city seems to be increasing — the amount sprayed jumped 16% from 2013 to 2014.

Why is NYC drenching its parks in a chemical that World Health Organization classes as a probable carcinogen? Studies have repeatedly linked the herbicide to cancer dating back to the 1980s, and farmers have even filed suit against Monsanto alleging that exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop the disease. The company, naturally, has fought back against this research by suing states that try to regulate the use of the herbicide.

glyphosate, pesticide, herbicide, roundup, monsanto, roundup cancer link, new york city, nyc, roundup spraying


Glyphosate is BANNED in France, Netherlands, Bermuda and Sri Lanka.  Switzerland and Germany begin to REFUSE stocking Roundup.

While cities like NYC and San Francisco may have no problem with spraying this controversial chemical all over their streets, other governments are beginning to crack down on glyphosate use. France has banned the sale of the herbicide over the counter, along with the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka. In Switzerland and Germany, major retailers have begun refusing to stock Roundup even in the absence of government regulation. The evidence of Roundup’s toxic effects is strong enough for the leaders of these nations and corporations to pull it from the shelves, and New York City needs to stand up and take note.


Watch as Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving Confirms he was bitten by BedBugs in Oklahoma City Hotel Room before Game

February 23, 2016 | by Dallas Franklin and AP Wire | NBC4

CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving blamed bed bugs for knocking him out of Sunday’s game in Oklahoma City.

The Cavaliers star guard said following Monday’s loss to Detroit that he left the nationally televised game against the Thunder after playing just 9 minutes because he was “freaked out” and tired after he was bitten on the head by bed bugs.

“Just imagine how freaked out you’d be if you saw friggin’ five, big-ass bed bugs just sitting on your pillow. I woke up itching, and I’m just looking around, and I’m like, ‘Are you serious right now?’ It was 3 a.m., and I was so tired at that point. It was, whatever,” Irving told ESPN.

The Cavaliers stayed in the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City on Saturday night.

Skirvin Hilton Hotel

The team said Irving was bothered by flu-like symptoms, but Irving said he got only three hours’ sleep after he saw five bugs on his pillow. He spent the rest of the night on a couch in his room.

“Our team said I was out with flu-like symptoms,” Irving said on Monday. “It was honestly from the bed bugs from the frickin’ Hilton that we stayed at.”

A spokesperson for the Skirvin Hilton Hotel confirmed with ESPN that bedbugs were found in Irving’s room.

“Unfortunately, every hotel occasionally has a case of bed bugs,” the spokesperson told ESPN. “This is one of those cases where a guest did bring in bed bugs to this particular room, and it was reported to us, fortunately, and we responded immediately and put the room out-of-order and all of the surrounding rooms to be inspected by a professional company.

“We actually had the company come out first thing [Monday] morning, and we found it was an isolated case in the one room, and we’re taking the necessary steps to remediate the problem.”

Without Irving for most of the game, the Cavs beat the Thunder 115-92.

Irving said he felt better Monday, when he scored a team-high 30 points in Cleveland’s 96-88 loss to the Pistons.


Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving says ‘5 big a** bed bugs’ caused him to miss most of a game

There are a lot of layers to this. Let’s take it step by step.

What hotel was this?

The Skirvin Hilton, which you might recognize because it’s notoriously haunted by Effie, a housekeeper who supposedly jumped from one of the top floors. The New York Times wrote about it in 2014. Most NBA teams stay at this hotel when they visit Oklahoma City.

Was it actually bed bugs?

I am a young person who still has much to learn about the ways of the world, including what exactly happens when you get bed bugs, so I asked the adults of SB Nation for help here.

“They live in the bedding — like the mattress — and they come out to bite you and drink blood … but they will travel home with you in your luggage and infest your home or the next place you stay, too,” Sam Eggleston told me.

“If you get bed bugs, you have to buy new everything,” said Matt Ufford, noted bed bug expert.

Irving didn’t say anything about buying new clothes or infecting the whole team, so maybe they weren’t traditional bed bugs.

Could they have just been bugs in bed?

This is my theory, and let’s go to The Skirven’s Yelp page for evidence. First, we should note they have a four-star rating, so most people who stay there don’t have to sub out of NBA games the next day because of nausea.

Secondly, though, there’s a one-star review a little ways down the page that stands out left by a one “Matt O.” While it’s possible Matt O. is actually Kyrie Irving, I have my doubts, mostly because Kyrie’s first name is Kyrie, not Matt, and his last name doesn’t start with an O.

In his very poor review of The Skirven, Matt O., who is probably not Irving, also complains about bugs. He even leaves a picture! Here it is.

Ufford, noted bed bug expert, says that isn’t a real bed bug. Instead, it’s just a bug that was in a bed. After all, that bug is dark colored and quite large, while bed bugs are small and usually light colored. And Irving did say this about the bugs.

Twitter:  10:19 pm – 22 Feb 2016 – Jason Lloyd ‎@JasonLloydABJ  Kyrie Irving: “Just imagine how freaked out you’d be if you saw friggin 5, big ass bed bugs just sitting on your pillow. I woke up itching.”

So what’s our conclusion here?

Irving did not actually have bed bugs. Otherwise, he would have had to burn all his clothes and pretend to be Matthew Dellavedova until they ordered him a new jersey. Instead, he just had bugs in his bed, which is understandably disturbing and a very valid reason to have trouble sleeping. I sure hope I don’t have trouble sleeping tonight just because I wrote this.  [“…just bugs in his bed?” or “…just bed bugs in his bed”.  A. Steiner]

Fortunately, Irving has overcome his bed bug demons and played better on Monday, although the Cavaliers lost anyway. Here’s to an entire season where he shuts down the critics who say he will never recover from the 2016 Bed Bugs Incident.

Oh damnit. I’m itching now.

Update: The Skirven did confirm one case of reported bed bugs on Sunday, per The Oklahoman. While I still stand by my hypothesis as scientifically plausible, it seems that we might actually be dealing with a new strain of bed bugs here. Or perhaps Ufford is not the expert he led me to believe he was. Either way, I’m sure Russell Westbrook was somehow involved in this incident.

* * *

February 23, 2016 | by Tom Ziller | SB Nation

OH HEAVENS NOOOOOO: Kyrie Irving was all sick and unable to play Sunday against the Thunder because … his hotel room in Oklahoma City had bed bugs, who bit Kyrie on the face and generally terrorized him. Burn that hotel to the ground, y’all. With his luggage and clothes and everything. Fire is the only cure for the persistent itchy feeling everyone near Kyrie will feel for the next month.

Watch the lifecycle of parasite that causes deadly Chagas disease – transmitted by the Kissing Bug…aka the Love Bug – both cousins to the BedBug

The cause of Chagas disease is the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans from a bite from an insect known as the triatomine bug. These insects can become infected by T. cruzi when they ingest blood from an animal already infected with the parasite.
This video was produced by Dirceu Esdras Teixeira, Marlene Benchimol, Wanderley de Souza and Paul Crepaldi on August 30, 2012.


Sunland Pest Control (contracted by Terminix) fumigators hit with federal charges after poisoning of 10 year old Peyton McCaughey


10 year old Peyton McCaughey

January 19, 2016 | FOX News WFLX29

PALM CITY, Fla. – Sunland Pest Control, the company subcontracted by Terminix to fumigate the Palm City home of Peyton McCaughey in August, has been charged with two federal crimes.

The charging documents submitted by the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida list Sunland Pest Control, owner Grenale Williams and employee Canarie Deon Curry.

Count one is “Using a restricted use pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

The charging document says Sunland failed “to have two persons trained in the use of restricted use pesticides,” “to aerate the fumigated space” and to “conduct a required clearance” with an approved and properly calibrated detection device.”

Count two is “False Statement.” The charging document says during the investigation by Florida’s Department of Agriculture into the fumigation at the McCaughey home Sunland claimed the pesticide “Vikane was used, when in truth and in fact, a different restricted use pesticide, Zythor, was used.”

It also says Sunland claimed that all label requirements of the pesticide were followed when “as the defendant then and there well knew, the label requirements were not followed.”

Count one carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Count two carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The crimes Sunland Pest Control is charged with left Peyton McCaughey with “severe brain damage” according to his parents.


Travelers beware – Pesticide that poisoned tourists in USVI still a danger in Caribbean.



SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -– Nine months after a visiting American family nearly died from exposure to methyl bromide in St John in the US Virgin Islands, authorities have concluded that the use of the banned pesticide was not an isolated event and its use has grave consequences.

EPA’s regional administrator & Puerto Rico’s agriculture dept. found several other examples of prohibited chemicals being used at hotels.

Two teenage sons from the family poisoned in March, Ryan and Sean Esmond, remain hospitalized in Delaware. They and their father, Stephen, an administrator at the private Tatnall School in Wilmington, suffered neurological damage and are paralyzed. Esmond is conscious but unable to move, his lawyer told CNN.

Photo published for Father and two sons paralyzed four months after being poisoned

Steve Esmond and sons, Sean and Ryan, remain paralyzed after pesticide poisoning while on vacation in the Caribbean.

Esmond’s wife and the boys’ mother, Dr Theresa Devine, was discharged from hospital in April, and was “doing well,” family spokesman James J. Maron told CNN at the time.A criminal investigation into the poisoning at the Sirenusa Condominium Resort continues, and the Esmond family is in settlement talks with Terminix, the company that used the chemical on insects in a vacation rental unit adjacent to theirs.

A separate investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local officials into the broader use of methyl bromide in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico is also still active.

Few details have been released to date, but the federal government and the Virgin Islands recently held a conference for pesticide companies, resort operators, and hospitality workers to warn them about the dangers of methyl bromide and other pesticides.

Judith Enck, the EPA’s regional administrator, said she and Puerto Rico’s agriculture department have found several other examples of prohibited chemicals being used at hotels.

Methyl bromide “is one of many pesticides being used illegally and inappropriately in the Caribbean” and more local oversight and regulation of pesticide companies is needed, Enck said.

A federal investigation after the Esmond family poisoning revealed that methyl bromide has been widely used in the Virgin Islands, according to Governor Kenneth Mapp.

The territorial government has said it will regulate pest control companies more closely and require new permits for the sale and purchase of restricted-use pesticides.

Experts say some companies in the Caribbean still use methyl bromide because of lax governmental supervision and because it kills pests in just one application.

That level of toxicity, however, has serious consequences for humans, causing headaches, dizziness, fainting and even paralysis and death.

According to officials, methyl bromide has been used at hotels in Puerto Rico, but it is not known if any action has been taken. The territory’s agriculture department, which is responsible for monitoring pesticide companies, did not respond to questions on illegal uses of methyl bromide on the island, according to an AP report.

A couple of incidents involving toxic pesticides have also been reported in the Dominican Republic, where at least one hospital issued a bulletin alerting doctors and nurses about the symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Methyl bromide is still used on the US mainland for agricultural purposes, but the EPA banned the chemical for residential use in 1984 and is phasing out its use overall.


SAY NO TO PESTICIDES – It’s Unclear How Many Pesticides Received Adequate – IF ANY – Testing

Study: Two-thirds of pesticides got flawed EPA approval

Many pesticides used in consumer products and agriculture received federal approval through a loophole that doesn’t require thorough testing, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental group.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used a regulatory loophole to approve 65% of 16,000 pesticides that pose a potential threat to public health, according to the two-year investigation by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The authors say the EPA’s database makes it unclear how many of those pesticides received adequate, if any, testing.

“People should be concerned, because we have examples of at least two pesticides on the market that shouldn’t have been approved,” says NRDC attorney Mae Wu, who co-authored the study with Jennifer Sass, a senior health scientist.  Wu points to nanosilver, which was approved as an anti-microbial agent in clothing but may damage brain and liver cells, and clothianidin, which was designed to be absorbed into plant tissue but is passed on fatally to bees and other pollinators.

“EPA has not yet had a chance to carefully review the issue brief,” the agency said in a statement. It cites its own internal review, posted on its website, that said subsequent pesticide information submitted to the EPA “confirms that products initially registered on a conditional basis are not posing unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.”

In that review, however, the EPA said it had widely (98% of the time) misused its “conditional registration” of pesticides from 2004 to 2010.

In 1978, Congress gave the EPA authority to issue approvals on a conditional basis — often for a period of time while initial or additional testing occurs — for pesticides needed to address public health emergencies. It intended for the agency to use this authority sparingly.

The EPA says that before granting a conditional registration, it must still determine that a pesticide’s use would not significantly increase the risk of “unreasonable adverse effects” on the environment during the time needed to obtain the necessary data.

“It’s kind of a black hole. … We don’t know what percentage of pesticides were tested” before approval, Wu says, arguing the EPA’s database is disorganized and lacks transparency.  The NRDC calls on the EPA to review all conditionally approved pesticides to ensure their safety and to make submitted data accessible for public review.

In the EPA’s statement Wednesday, the agency said, “We will continue to work on improving record-keeping and have developed a plan to update the IT (information technology) systems to address that need.”

Wu is skeptical of the EPA’s comments about pesticide safety or its plans to improve its database. She says, “It’s like saying, ‘We really messed up, but trust us, everything’s fine now.'”

Are Pesticides Killing Us?


Are Pesticides Killing Us, Too?

The annual plague of insects and other bugs has descended on us folks up North. For those of you in sunny climates, it lasts all year round. In these parts, the year’s heavy rainfall means the mosquito population will be big enough to make it the ‘state bird’ in at least half the states.

And it’s not just mosquitoes. You have to add the many other pests known to man — fleas, cockroaches, yellow jackets, grubs… you name it.

In self defense, many of us will call a pest control company or pay a visit to the store to load up on products designed to get rid of these unwanted invaders.

Problem is… we could be trading one problem for another. Keep reading to find out what I mean…

‘Safe’ pest control treatments (that aren’t)…

Pesticides come in so many names and varieties it’s mind-boggling to sort them all out.

For now, I’m going to focus on one of the most common ingredients in use today, along with its common synergist. Many people rely on it as ‘safe’ — and it is, compared to DEET, Diazinon, Dursban, Sevin and Orthene.

Pyrethrum is a natural material made from the chrysanthemum… and pyrethrins are the six insecticide compounds found in pyrethrum. A pyrethroid is a manmade chemical compound similar to natural chemical pyrethrins.

Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are ingredients in a staggering 3,500 registered products.

They are widely used in and around millions of homes — on pets, in mosquito control, and on lawns. They’re used to kill ticks and fleas, cockroaches, and are in home and garden sprays and pet shampoos. Pyrethroids are sold as commercial pesticides used to control insects on farms, in homes, communities, restaurants, hospitals, schools… and also as a topical head lice treatment.

“Bug bombs” — pesticides with aerosol propellants releasing all their contents at once to fumigate an area — are marketed for use in homes and apartments to control roaches and fleas.

Use of pyrethrins and pyrethroids has increased during the past decade with the declining use of organophosphate pesticides.

They alter nerve function, causing paralysis in target insect pests, ending in death.

To simplify things, I’ll call them all pyrethrins for the rest of this article.

There are four ways you’re exposed to pyrethrins:

  • Inhalation
  • Skin contact
  • Through your eyes
  • Ingestion

You also need to realize… when you use pyrethrins, you’re getting more than ‘just’ pyrethrins. Often, you’re also getting a powerful synergist called Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO) — added to make the active ingredients even more powerful (read: toxic). PBO is especially common in aerosols. Such products may contain five to ten times as much PBO as pesticide.1

Toxicity concerns

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pyrethrins cause more insecticide poisoning incidents than any other class of insecticides except organophosphates. Symptoms may include2:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin or eye irritation and inflammation
  • Numb tongue and lips
  • Convulsions
  • Muscular fibrillation
  • Respiratory problems, including life-threatening asthma attacks
  • Death, including heart failure

Note: You are at substantially higher risk of symptoms if you have pre-existing respiratory problems (allergies and asthma) — and also if you have multiple sclerosis.

An old story from the Jewish News, Detroit, dated February 6, 1998, illustrates just how dangerous pyrethrins can be to asthmatics…

      Marcy Trice remembers the day her life changed forever. She was a 35-year-old limited licensed psychologist working with chronically ill patients at Detroit Receiving Hospital. Early on that August day in 1989, an insecticide (poison) company sprayed her office because of a bug problem. When Trice returned later, she got some of the chemical mist on her hands. She started to fall asleep at her desk. Her asthmatic condition, previously under control, dramatically worsened. The insecticide was pyrethrin, made from powdered flowers of the chrysanthemum family.

Poison control told Trice to get tested and warned her she could develop symptoms months later. She did: headaches, frequent falling, kidney problems, memory lapses, fatigue.

Unknown to Trice, another office where she worked in Bloomfield Hills was periodically sprayed. Her illness grew worse, and she stopped working in 1994. Trice has been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a chronic condition marked by heightened sensitivity to many different chemicals.

Worth noting: WD40, a household lubricant, is also extremely dangerous when you’re exposed to it at the same time as pyrethrin.

Toxic to animals, too…

Pyrethrins are not exactly harmless for animals, either.

Some lab animals experience anemia when exposed to the chemcials through eating, injection, or breathing.

Experiments with dairy cows suggest that nursing mothers exposed to pyrethrins can pass them on to their children. Plus, pyrethrins disrupt the normal functioning of sex hormones.

Pyrethrins are extremely toxic to honeybees, fish and other aquatic animals, posing a potential threat to our food supply.

They’re dangerous for cats too. A cat’s liver is incapable of breaking down pyrethrins. Watch what flea and tick products you use.

But do pyrethrins cause cancer?

The EPA classified pyrethrins as “likely to be a human carcinogen by the oral route”, based on increased frequency of several cancers in rats — including3:

  • Liver cancer in females
  • Lung cancer in males
  • Thyroid tumors (both genders)

Farmers exposed to pyrethrins for livestock pest control have nearly four times the risk of leukemia.4

Several studies suggest that females are at greater overall cancer risk from pyrethrin exposure than men, because pyrethrins tend to accumulate within body fat. Females in general have twice the body fat of men. Tests showed that the median oral dose it took to kill female rats was less than half the dose required to kill males.5

Risks you wouldn’t expect
from an ‘inert’ ingredient

Remember, it’s not just pyrethrins. It’s that other chemical, PBO, too. The EPA rates PBO as one of the most commonly used ingredients in insecticides, now found in approximately 1600 to 1700 registered pest control products.6 PBOs are sometimes listed as an active ingredient, but can also be considered an inert ingredient, so not required to be listed.7 When listed, it could be called any of these names (and many others):

Butacide; Butoxide; Alleviate; Pybuthrin; ENT-14250; CAS Reg. No. 51-03-6

A study of pregnant women from northern Manhattan and the Bronx found PBO in the air of 80% of their homes — suggesting how far-reaching its use is.

Residues are regularly found on these “dirty dozen” foods, plus others…

  • Lettuce
  • Lemons
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Chive
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Pears
  • Bell peppers
  • Oranges
  • Squash…

Another reason to fork over the extra dough for organic foods, huh? The EPA claims that your dietary food risk is very low… but others disagree.

PBOs slow the breakdown of toxic pyrethrins, keeping them toxic for much longer. My guess is, PBOs will do the same thing in your body.

Overdoses in animals are linked to hyper-excitability, unsteadiness, coma, seizures, and brain damage. Hemorrhages in the digestive tract, especially in the large intestine, have caused rat deaths.

Other long-term changes include liver disease, kidney changes, anemia, loss of muscle coordination, and abdominal swelling. Sounds like enough to scare me off…

But again, is PBO “officially” carcinogenic? Well yes, the EPA has named it a group C carcinogen — “a possible human carcinogen”… based only on animal studies. Several studies link it to liver cancer at high doses… others link it to thyroid cancer.8

They say that PBO does not cause genetic damage — but there is by no means a clear consensus on that, as some studies do show genetic damage, including a study demonstrating gene mutation in mouse lymphoma cells.

In addition, PBO weakens your immune system, affects reproductive function and increases both birth defects and fetal death, and is a known neurotoxin causing behavioral changes. It’s also linked to intestinal ulcers, bleeding, liver and kidney damage… and more. Some of these risks appear to be downplayed by the EPA.

“But, the EPA would tell us
if it was dangerous… wouldn’t they?”

I’d like to think so…

But I did see one reference about the EPA withholding information from the public for two years after they determined pyrethrins were a possible carcinogen. Finally the information came out in a lawsuit.9

That aside…

Although the EPA has access to published articles and independent studies, they rarely use these sources to make a risk assessment. Generally they use only data submitted by the product manufacturers.10 Could be honest science, be I’m skeptical about that…

For example, a comprehensive review of published articles found 63 pesticides that interfere with the thyroid system. But to date, EPA has never restricted a pesticide for thyroid issues.

To add to the potential problems…

Although pyrethrins are said to have a short half life in the sunshine, they’re often applied inside of buildings, where residue can stay potent for a long time.

Following indoor treatments, pyrethrins have persisted up to 2 1/2 months in carpet dust.

One study found PBO persisted for at least 2 weeks on toys and in dust in a kindergarten, following a treatment to control cockroaches.11

To add insult to injury, there are indications that pests are becoming resistant to pyrethrins. A January 20, 2011 story in the Wall Street Journal tells of an Ohio State University study showing that bed bugs now have the ability to survive in the presence of pyrethrins.12, 13

It’s a tough challenge to avoid all sources of pyrethrin and PBO, precisely because they’re used all over the place by practically everybody. It’s conceivable they’re used in almost every building you visit on a regular basis… schools and universities, playgrounds and ball fields, golf courses, farms, your workplace, office buildings, restaurants, apartment buildings, and more.

But do take control where you can.

10 ways to slash your risk…

At least you can choose healthier options in your own backyard and home. Here are ten practical tips to get you started…

    1. Learn to read labels and ask questions. Beware the ‘inert’ ingredients. The term is nothing more than a dodge for pesticide manufacturers. If you hire others for your yard care, ask a few questions. Find out what pesticides they plan to apply. Ask to see labels. Be snoopy. It’s your life and your family’s at stake.
    2. Buy organic food. If you buy from a local organic farmer, ask what they use to control bugs. Request the name of the active ingredient. Pyrethrum (the “natural” version) may still use synergists like PBO that are anything BUT natural. Be wary. Labels may not mean what you think they do. Some companies are selling pyrethrum/diatomaceous earth/PBO products and calling them “organic”.

PBO is also showing up in orange oil and neem products, and sold as organic. Don’t be fooled…

  1. Spray garlic-based mosquito deterrents on your shrubs and grassy areas instead of using poisons. Besides being better for you, they have the benefit of not killing “good” insects the way pyrethrins do.
  2. Find natural flea and tick treatments for your pets. There are many available online.
  3. Wash your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
  4. Vacuum your home once a week. Empty the bag and dispose of its contents. Keep clutter under control.
  5. Comb your dog daily with a fine-tooth flea comb, and rinse in hot, soapy water between strokes.
  6. Look for repellants made from the essential oils of lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary, or thyme.
  7. Use flowers that deter insects in and around your home and garden.
  8. Remove standing water near your home to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.

If all this seems like a lot of work, remember the proverb, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Not only does it apply to your health, but for preventing the insect surges that will make you “desperate” to use pyrethrins and PBOs.

Sometimes it takes decades of people getting sick before a product’s dangers are “discovered” and it’s finally removed from the market. In the meantime, you may need to become your own personal “Environmental Protection Agency”.

Kindest regards,

Lee Euler, Publisher | Newsletter #89


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