Cockroaches Create Pest Control Conversation at Local School District
Pesticide Effectiveness Questioned
By ALLIE HOSTLER, Two Rivers Tribune
Humboldt Termite and Pest Control say the beetle-like bug wasn’t nesting on the Hoopa Elementary School campus, but a few were spotted. The two-inch members of the blattidae insect family pose a serious threat to human health.
According to planetcockroach.com, cockroaches are known to carry diseases like dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis, as well as gastroenteritis. Cockroaches can live just about anywhere; feces, rotting food, floor and wall crevices, under a pile of coats, in cabinets and more. Many of the substances they feed on are already contaminated, and as the cockroach moves from one location to another it can spread disease along the way.
The school district’s maintenance and Transportation Director, Bev Stevens said the problem hadn’t yet reached infestation levels and that Humboldt Termite conducted an inspection and concluded the bugs were brought into the school in a backpack or by some other means.
“I think the only people who’ve even seen them are the custodians,” Stevens said as she explained the severity of the problem.
During the May 8, school board meeting a parent brought the cockroach problem to the board’s attention. Stevens spoke up too saying her department was aware of the problem and waiting for an open Saturday to schedule the extermination process with Humboldt Termite.
“We wanted to isolate the problem, so we acted fast,” Stevens said. The extermination was conducted last Saturday, May 19 in classrooms one through four at HES.
But there are some members of the school community who believe using pesticides in classrooms is dangerous and exposes children to chemicals that are known to cause cancer and have negative impacts to adults and especially children.
Hoopa Elementary School teacher, Dave Sanders is one such member of the community. He hopes the school district will pursue a policy that requires the use of low impact methods of pest control, including refraining from spraying pesticides when students are present.
“School’s out in four weeks,” he said. “Why couldn’t they wait until the students were gone for the summer?”
Stevens, concerned about a small problem growing quickly out of control, said waiting only buys the bugs more time to infest and multiply, creating a bigger headache for the school.
McKinleyville Union School has a policy (BP 3521.5) similar to what Sanders hopes for within the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District (KTJUSD) system. Executive Director of a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing harmful exposure to toxic chemicals, Patty Clary helped McKinleyville schools develop their policy.
“The school [KTJUSD] missed a fantastic opportunity to teach their students healthy ways of dealing with a pest problem,” Clary said. “The main issue with pesticides is they are biologically active and are made to do thing to hurt and kill living organisms.”
She said that children are more susceptible to complications caused by pesticides than adults because their brains and bodies are still developing.
The pesticides used at HES last weekend were Nyguard IGR (pyridine); Dragnet SFR (permethrin); Gentrol Point Source (hydroprene) and Advion Roach (indozacarb). Two of which are known carcinogens to humans. Notices were posted on campus in compliance with the 2000 Healthy Schools Act, however it is unknown if notices were sent home to parents ahead of time.
Pyridine-based chemicals, such as Nyguard, are known to California to cause cancer and is listed with the EPA as such. It can affect growth hormones. It is considered to be of low toxicity to humans. But, Clary argues that DDT was of similar low concern because the impacts of the poison were not observed until many years after its use began.
Permethrin is an active ingredient in Dragnet SFR. This chemical is listed by U.S. EPA as a likely human carcinogen, a classification just below known human carcinogen. Dragnet was applied as a spray.
Stevens said Humboldt Termite said there was no need to wipe down classroom surfaces following the extermination process on Saturday, however a custodian did a complete wipe-down of desks, furniture and floors.
“We went a step further to ensure that our children are safe,” Stevens said. “It’s safe and secure and nobody’s hurt but the critter.”
Stevens said she believes Humboldt Termite used a small amount of pesticide that was sprayed around the base of the floor and not on all surfaces of the classroom.
But Sanders is still fuming. He said that using spray is not a long-term solution and it doesn’t eliminate the issue. He’s concerned about any long-term impacts of exposure to pesticides may have on children, especially children who are already at a disadvantage.
“It’s ridiculous to use cancer causing toxics anywhere near our kids when there is a simple and equally effective, even more effective way of dealing with the problem,” Clary said. “You can’t really do this around children and expect them to be healthy.”
According to research, the best way to rid your dwelling of cockroaches is to eliminate food sources, and reduce dark areas. See Sidebar below.
Cockroaches. The first thing you think of when you see one in your home is how to get rid of them as fast as possible. Roaches are nasty little pests that breed fast and can move in and out of tiny cracks and crevices – they actually prefer tight spaces. Roaches have lived alongside human beings throughout history. The conditions in our homes are ideal for cockroaches: warm, most, and with plenty of food lying around.
Cockroaches are nasty creatures. They leave a trail of filth behind them and shed their exoskeletons as they grow. They need water more than food, but can go weeks without either. For every one you see there can be as many as 100 others you can’t see. They cause allergic reactions and increase the risk of asthma to children.
The first instinct that many people have when they learn they have a cockroach infestation is to run out and buy every kind of poison they can find to kill them all. They use bug-bombs, roach traps, roach baits, roach sprays, and roach gels to carpet bomb their home. The problem is, this stuff isn’t good for people either and roaches breed so fast they can become immune to poisons. In fact, what usually happens is they avoid the poisoned areas until you stop the treatments and then they move back in.
To truly eradicate a cockroach infestation, you must take a comprehensive approach to pest control. First, you must seal off their access to your home. This means aggressively filling every tiny crack and crevice in your home with silicone caulk. Start in the kitchen and bathrooms and pay special attention to the spaces around water pipes and drains. Seal the insides of your kitchen cabinets and along allof the wall trim. This can take many hours, but will really pay off. Next, clear up the clutter to take away their places to live. Get rid of paper and boxes and clean up clutter. Now, you need to remove the food supply and water supply. Do a thorough cleaning in your kitchen and use a de-greaser to get all of the surfaces clean. Fix any dripping faucets or other leaks. Put food into plastic containers or zipper lock bags and remove empty food and beverage cans from your home immediately. Once you have sealed and cleaned, lay down some roach traps along the walls in areas where you suspect roaches. Monitor the traps daily. This will allow you determine where they are coming from and what type of roaches you are dealing with.
Using Boric Acid For Killing Cockroaches: Boric Acid is a very good choice for eradicating a cockroach infestation in your home. Cockroaches breed fast and can quickly become immune to the typical poisons sold in stores. The longer you use them, the less effective they become. Boric Acid does not suffer from this problem. This works as a stomach poison and also by abrading the outer waxy coating on the cockroach and causing it to dehydrate.
Bait Paste: This is perhaps the best solution, ever. You take a small dab of paste and put it under sinks and counters where the roaches may be. Roaches are attracted to the wonderful paste and eat it. The toxicity is so low they don’t realize they are in danger. Then, they take the paste back to their home and feed the younglings. It kills the adults and the babies. It’s about the slickest method to get rid of roaches. One application and you are guaranteed to get rid of roaches for an entire year. You will need to do one thing, in addition, to make this work perfectly. It’s simple. Keep your house clean of food and water sources; especially until the roaches are eliminated.