NC – Recent bed bug infestation marks growing trend in Asheville’s housing developments

Asheville Citizen Times | by Brian Gordon and Joel Burgess | Aug. 29, 2019

An apartment complex for the city’s low-income and disabled seniors is struggling with a bedbug infestation.

About 50 of the 248 units at the Asheville Terrace public housing development have been infested with bedbugs in recent weeks, according to the Asheville Housing Authority. This infestation represents a growing prevalence of bedbugs infestations across public housing in Asheville.

“Bedbugs have become something we deal with on a regular basis, all around our properties,” said David Nash, executive director at the Asheville Housing Authority. “It’s a trend.”

Asheville Terrace, off Tunnel Road, is designed specifically for tenants age 55 and older. Pest control costs at Asheville Terrace, which includes bedbug exterminations, have risen from nearly $14,000 in 2016 to over $30,000 last year. So far in 2019, the housing authority has dedicated $27,815 to pest control at the development.

“We have a full-time staff member dedicated to it,” Nash said. The housing authority contracts with Orkin Pest and Termite Control to handle bedbug situations.

While bedbugs are gently inserted into night-time nursery rhymes, infestations are serious matters.

The tiny, round insects sustain themselves on the blood of humans and animals. They seek out crevices that provide easy access to their food source, and their bites leave red marks on exposed skin. According to WebMD, female bedbugs can lay hundreds of eggs over a lifespan.

Nash said bedbugs are often carried into units on used furniture. Tenants with impacted apartments must exit the room as spray is applied. Infested clothes must be washed, and any furniture exposed to bedbugs must be thrown away. Tenants are not financially compensated for any furniture lost to bedbugs, including any chairs or beds with special features for disabled tenants.

The housing authority provides tenants tips on how to avoid bringing bedbugs into apartments after each infestation, but not before.

Several tenants at Asheville Terrace expressed concern about voicing their complaints over bedbugs or other facility issues, saying they feared eviction. Asheville Terrace is categorized as a project-based property, meaning the public voucher that subsidizes rent stays with the apartment if a tenant were to leave. To relocate to another public housing development, tenants would have to reapply and be put on a waiting list. The main waiting list for the housing authority has 1,518 applicants.

Nash said tenants are not evicted for voicing concerns. “Speaking with the press is not a lease violation,” Nash stated in an email. “They just need to be sure they pay their rent and comply with the other terms of their lease.”

Study: South Dade Plant Nursery Workers Earn Low Pay, Susceptible To Heat Illnesses

WLRN |by Nadege Green | July 30, 2019

“They put me in a shower to get all the chemicals off me,” she reported. “I kept falling down. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t, my body got weaker…I felt like my throat was awful, as if it were cut on the inside.”

A new study that looks at the working conditions of ornamental plant nursery workers in South Miami-Dade found that low wages, harmful exposure to pesticides and inadequate access to drinking water and shade are among the top complaints from workers in the industry.

Miami-Dade County is home to more than 1,500 ornamental nurseries that provide flowering plants, shrubs and trees used for commercial and residential landscaping projects. WeCount, a farmer workers rights group in Homestead, surveyed 300 workers in a workforce largely dominated by immigrant women for the study called “The Human Landscape.”

An ornamental plant nursery in South Miami-Dade.

Workers, largely from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, complete a range of jobs such as potting plants, weeding, driving tractors, digging up trees, loading pallets and customer assitance. They provide a portrait of working long hours outside in intense heat with little reprieve and low pay.

Nearly 70 percent said they experienced heat related illnesses including fainting and headaches due to a lack of shade breaks.

“Folks are under pressure to work fast. They have their order they have to get out and so they don’t want them to take breaks, they want them to produce and that’s that’s a big issue,” said Jonathan Fried, executive director of WeCount.

Miami-Dade recently recorded record-breaking heat and as it gets hotter because of climate change, Fried says farm workers are on the frontline of serious health risks with little protections.

The study also found many workers did not receive proper training to handle pesticides as required by law and industry regulations.

Of the workers surveyed who used pesticides for work, 64 percent said they did not receive any safety training.

Miguel Bernal, a nursery plant worker and member of WeCount, told WLRN when he worked with pesticides, his employer instructed him to lie and say he had proper training if an inspector visited the nursery.

“She told me to spray, but to not tell them that she told me to do it,” he said.

Other workers who didn’t handle pesticides said they were still exposed because spraying would happen in close proximity to where they were working, according to the surveys. Sixty two percent of the workers reported symptoms of pesticide exposure—dizziness, vomiting and skin rashes.

Nora, one of the women who responded to the survey, described symptoms of pesticide poisoning after another worker was allowed to spray near where she and several other people were working. He had practically sprayed it in our faces, she said. Nora ended up in the hospital shortly after.

“They put me in a shower to get all the chemicals off me,” she reported. “I kept falling down. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t, my body got weaker…I felt like my throat was awful, as if it were cut on the inside.”

Miami-Dade County is consistently ranked as one of the most unaffordable metro areas in the country when it comes to housing. That reality is especially stark for farmwokers. According to the people surveyed, most earn the Florida minimum wage of $8.05 or slightly above.

A smaller percentage of workers reported earning less than minimum wage.

As is the case in most other industries, there is a pay gap for women. On average women earn 36 cents less than men. Workers also reported a pay gap for speakers of indigenous Mayan languages. Speakers of Mayan languages earned 34 cents less on average than Spanish and English speakers.

And across the industry, workers reported little room for economic advancement. Workers with more than 15 years of experience working in South Dade ornamental plant nurseries earned about 45 cents more than someone with one year of experience, according to the study.

WLRN intern Aaron Sanchez-Guerra contributed to this report. 

Poisoned for Profit: We Are Not the Agrochemical Industry’s Guinea Pigs

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by Colin Todhunter / July 27th, 2019

Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Chemicals Regulation Division (HSE) in the UK claiming that the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup has poisoned her nature reserve in South Wales and is also poisoning people across the UK (she includes herself here, as she struggles with a neurodegenerative condition). She notes that the widespread spraying of glyphosate went against the advice of directive 2009/128/EC of the European parliament but was carried out at the behest of the agrochemicals industry.

Mason has sent a 24-page fully referenced document with her letter in support of her claims. It can be accessed in full here. What follows is a brief summary of just a few of the take-home points. There is a lot more in Mason’s document, much of which touches on issues she has previously covered but which nonetheless remain relevant.

The thrust of her open letter to these agencies is that glyphosate is a major contributory factor in spiralling rates of disease and conditions affecting the UK population. She also makes it clear that official narratives — pushed by the pesticides industry, the media and various key agencies — have deliberately downplayed or ignored the role of agrochemicals in this. Instead, the focus has been on the role of alcohol use and obesity, conveniently placing the blame on individual behaviour and the failure of people to opt for ‘healthy lifestyle’ choices.

Mason argues that Monsanto emails released into the public domain have revealed that Roundup was kept on the market by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists and engaging in scientific fraud. In addition, she notes that documents show that the European Commission bowed to the demands of pesticide lobbies. Former PM David Cameron, Defra, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency all ignored the warnings that GM crops and Roundup were hazardous to human health and the environment.

In the run-up to the relicensing of glyphosate in the EU, Mason states that in its analysis the Glyphosate Task Force omitted key studies from South America (where herbicide-tolerant GM crops are grown) that associate Roundup with cancer, birth defects, infertility, DNA damage and neurotoxicity. She refers to many studies in support of her claim that glyphosate is deleterious to human health and the environment. It is worth noting that the European Chemicals Agency has classified glyphosate as a substance causing serious eye damage and toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

Mason reserves a special place for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in her letter, saying that the agency has been hi-jacked by the pesticides industry and has persuaded key figures in the medical establishment to repeat certain claims: that alcohol, cigarette smoking and obesity are the main causes of cancer. She argues that Monsanto and the US EPA have known for a long time that Roundup is carcinogenic.

CRUK recently made a bold statement about its vision to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. However, Mason asserts this is fantasy for public consumption. She argues there are a huge number of cancers in the UK and their prevalence is increasing each year in tandem with the rising use of glyphosate and other agrochemicals.

Mason provides the statistics:

In the UK, there were 13,605 new cases of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2015 (and 4,920 deaths in 2016): there were 41,804 new cases of bowel cancer in 2015 (and 16,384 deaths in 2016); 12,547 new cases of kidney cancer in 2015 (and 4,619 deaths in 2016); 5,736 new cases of liver cancer in 2015 (5,417 deaths in 2016); 15,906 new cases of melanoma in 2015 (2,285 deaths in 2016); 3,528 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2015 (382 deaths in 2016); 10,171 new cases of bladder cancer in 2015 (5,383 deaths in 2016); 8,984 new cases of uterine cancer in 2015 (2,360 deaths in 2016); 7,270 cases of ovarian cancer in 2015 (4,227 deaths in 2016); 9,900 new cases of leukaemia in 2015 (4,712 deaths in 2016); 55,122 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2015 (11,563 deaths in 2016); 47,151 new cases of prostate cancer in 2015 (11,631 deaths in 2016); 9,211 new cases of oesophageal cancer in 2015 (8,004 deaths in 2016); and 5,540 new cases of myeloma in 2015 (3,079 deaths in 2016); 2,288 new cases of testicular cancer in 2015 (57 deaths in 2016); 9,921 new cases of pancreatic cancer in 2015 (9,263 deaths in 2016); 11,432 new cases of brain cancer in 2015 (5,250 deaths in 2016); 46,388 new cases of lung cancer in 2015 (and 35,620 deaths in 2016). In the US in 2014 there were 24,050 new cases of myeloma.

Arguing that UK farmers are “drowning” their crops in pesticides, Mason notes that it is therefore not surprising that Pesticide Action Network UK’s analysis of the last 12 years of residue data (published by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food) shows there are unacceptable levels of pesticides present in the food provided through the Department of Health’s (DoH) School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS).

Residues of 123 different pesticides were found, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer and disruption of the hormone system. Moreover, residues contained on SFVS produce were higher than those in produce tested under the national residue testing scheme (mainstream produce found on supermarket shelves). However, Mason says that when PAN-UK sent its findings to the DOH, the agency was told that pesticides are not the concern of the DoH.

Perhaps they should be, given what Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, stated in 2017:

Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weed killers, insecticides and fungicides. It’s on their food and in their water, and it’s even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people’s fundamental rights, I beg to differ.

He added:

Paediatricians have referred to childhood exposure to pesticides as creating a ‘silent pandemic’ of disease and disability. Exposure in pregnancy and childhood is linked to birth defects, diabetes, and cancer. Because a child’s developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals. Increasing evidence shows that even at ‘low’ doses of childhood exposure, irreversible health impacts can result.

Tuncak says that most victims cannot prove the cause of their disability or disease and this limits our ability to hold those responsible to account. But this is changing. The public is becoming increasingly aware of the industry’s criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market, thanks to the various high-profile litigations in the US. Maybe it’s time for the (taxpayer-funded) agencies Rosemary Mason has continually written to over the years to finally act in the public interest. Or would that be too much to expect?

In finishing, we should take note of the current orchestrated campaign (cheer-led by those outside of India with industry links) to get herbicide-tolerant seeds planted in India. Aside from Bt cotton, GM crops are not allowed in the country. This cynical campaign is aimed at increasing GM seed, glyphosate and other toxic agrochemical sales. Given increasingly saturated markets elsewhere, the global GM seed and herbicide industry regards India as a massive potential money spinner.

However, Punjab took the lead in 2018 and banned glyphosate. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have since followed. But there is still no nationwide ban. With this in mind, author and academic Ashwani Mahajan has started a petition campaign (here) to stop the use of glyphosate in India.

He says that pesticide companies are taking advantage of farmers’ ignorance about the deadly risks associated with glyphosate. Mahajan notes that industry is sending its agents to approach farmers directly and trap them with attractive promotional offers. This is part of a wider strategy to get farmers to break with effective traditional practices and lure them onto agrochemical (and GMO) treadmills as described in the 2017 paper The Ox Fall Down: Path Breaking and Technology Treadmills in Indian Cotton Agriculture (Glenn Stone and Andrew Flachs).

Farmers are being subjected to slick PR and lured because they are told this herbicide is a cost-effective method to kill weeds quickly. What they are not told is that its effectiveness is limited, that it’s a health and environmental hazard and that it’s a risk to their lives. But it’s not just farmers’ lives that are at risk. We just need to look at the statistics provided earlier in this article to realise the risk to the wider public health.

West Nile virus detected across Michigan in mosquitoes, goose

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Body bent towards the skin surface, this image depicts a lateral view of a feeding female Anopheles merus mosquito. This specimen had landed on a human hand, and was in the process of obtaining its blood meal through its sharp, needle-like labrum, which it had inserted into its human host. (Courtesy of CDC/ James Gathany)

 

Mosquitoes collected in Saginaw and Oakland counties, as well as a Canada goose from Kalamazoo County, have all tested positive recently for West Nile virus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

This is the first sign of the virus in 2019, officials said.

“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, in a statement. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using insect repellant wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during those time periods.”

West Nile virus is a risk every year for Michigan residents, as it is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes who have bitten an infected bird.

The virus can cause illness three to 15 days after the mosquito bite. Adults age 60 and older are at the highest risk for West Nile — but anyone can get sick from the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. In 2018 in Michigan there were nine deaths and 104 incidents of severe illness from the virus — which include meningitis and encephalitis.

In 2018 officials tested 4,142 mosquito pools; 159 of which tested positive for West Nile virus.

Officials are recommending people follow the following precautions to decrease their exposure to mosquitoes this summer:

  • Use insect repellent that is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone
  • Infants under 2 months of age should not use insect repellent and instead should wear clothes that cover their arms and legs, and their crib, stroller and baby carrier should be covered with a mosquito net
  • Wear socks, shoes, light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside
  • Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; make repairs to tears or other openings
  • Use bed nets if your windows don’t have screens
  • Eliminate sources of standing water that could support mosquito breeding near your home at least once a week — like bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools and old tires

Bed Bug Infestation Sweeping Metro Denver

FOX31 – July 18, 2017, by Keagan Harsh

DENVER — Tourists are coming to Colorado in droves this summer, and it’s not just visitors of the two-legged kind.  Our state is seeing an infestation of bed bugs.

Christina Thomas experienced it first hand. Thomas was visiting an Extended Stay America in Colorado Springs and says she woke up to find bed bugs all over her pillow.


“I woke up and three inches from my face I see a spot, and I look at it and say ‘no way, is that a bed bug?'” she said.

Christina isn’t the only person dealing with bed bugs in Colorado.

Jacob Marsh is one of several Denver exterminators absolutely overwhelmed with bed bug calls.

“It’s infestation levels over the whole city pretty much,” he said. “Right now we’re working 6 or 7 days a week,” said Marsh.

He says this is the worst time of year for bed bugs. However, Colorado’s infestation actually began several years ago. He estimates more than 3,500 homes are treated for bed bugs in the Denver area every year.


It’s a problem Marsh attributes to both the state’s growing population and Colorado’s popularity as a tourist destination.

“Denver is usually ranked 4th to 6th worst in the nation. We get a lot of good things when things are booming like it is, but unfortunately when people are coming in and traveling you also get a lot of unwanted visitors,” he said.

If you’re staying at a hotel there are things you can do to try and keep the bugs away.

First, store your luggage away from the bed on luggage racks or even in the bathroom.


Also, check the sheets, mattress, and bed frame for signs of the bugs.

One of the biggest misconceptions about bed bugs is that they’re too small to see. Most are actually about the size of an apple seed, and similar in appearance.

As for Christine Thomas, she isn’t taking any chances. She checked out of the hotel and left.

BedBugs Plague New Jersey Library – Summer Reading?

 

June 29, 2016 | by Miranda Leah for FiOS1

City officials say that after receiving a complaint, staff at the South Orange Library found bedbugs inside the library furniture.

Library patrons say they’re not surprised by the news, and extermination experts say that anyone who has visited the library should thoroughly examine their homes for the bugs and bug bites.

Community members say they just hope the library takes care of the problem quickly.

There is no word yet on when the library will re-open.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Bedbugs bite New York Moviegoers…One of the Top 10 Places

June 8, 2016 | by Teri Weaver, NewYorkUpstate.com

Bedbugs ruined a night at the movies in recent days for at least two sets of customers just outside of Buffalo, WIVB reports.

The bugs began biting one mother and her 3-year-old during “Alice Through the Looking Glass” at the Regal Cinemas on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, according to the report.

Taneeya Goodwin and her boyfriend were attacked by the insects Monday night during a screening of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” according to WIVB. Both women documented the bugs and bites with their cell phones.

Bedbugs in movie theaters are a thing.  The Travel Channel puts movie theaters on its Top 10 list of places to be wary of bites and infestations. (Libraries, retail stores and churches also make the list.)

Earlier this year, WIVB reported that Buffalo ranked No. 20 on a national list of places likely to have bedbugs.

The television station reported it has received complaints about the theater for months. Regal did not respond Tuesday to the station’s request for comment.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES

BedBug Infestation at USF – Invades Classrooms

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Dad captures video of live Bed Bug on newborn son hours after wife gives birth at Indiana IU Methodist Hospital

May 2, 2016

Fox 59 INDIANPOLIS, IND. – An Indianapolis man is speaking out against IU Methodist Hospital after he says he found a bed bug crawling on his wife’s hospital gown, just hours after she gave birth.

“Look at this, this is a bed bug,” says Jayson Everett.

In a live video stream that now has more than 25,000 views, Jayson Everett captures raw video of an alleged bed bug crawling around on his wife’s hospital gown at IU Methodist.

“This is disgusting, I have a newborn in there,” says Everett.

Everett tells FOX59 News that he found the bug just hours after his son was born on Friday, crawling around next to his newborn while his wife was trying to breastfeed. One of the staff members in the video does admit that it looks like a bed bug, and says they will take care of it.

“It was the IU Medical wrap with the IU logo on it that they put him in and as soon as we got him stripped all the way down, a bed bug fell out. I went out to the nurse’s station and said there is a bed bug in here!” says Everett.

Everett’s claims became more heated towards the IU staff, which needed to call security to try and calm the situation. He was escorted out of the hospital and says he has not been allowed back inside to see his wife or new baby for two days, he feels penalized for speaking up about the alleged incident.

IU Health Methodist Hospital released this statement “We take this matter seriously and are looking into the details of the situation.”

Everett is worried that his wife and baby may have been bitten by the bed bug that is best known for feeding on human blood.

“Your hospital is dirty, so I have to pay for it because I blew the whistle? Not my fault, you should have told the public a long time ago,” says Everett.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

How Protected Are You Against Bed Bugs?

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