Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bed Bug Hearing News Search

As promised, I have done a quickie search of local news sources for stories about last week's hearing. So here I have links to each story along with what I found to be that story's strongest passage.

Also, I received an eyewitness report from fellow bed bug blogger and faithful reader The Caitlinator. Apparently City agencies are trying to pass the buck (as usual) as to whose responsibility it should be to deal with bed bugs in New York.

I went to the hearing. There were a lot of experts talking about bedbugs, but
probably the height of the debate centered around whether or not bedbugs pose a
health concern. The Department of Health wants to pass the buck to Housing,
claiming that bedbugs pose no health threats. Of course, anyone who has had
bedbugs would disagree, since mental health is certainly health, and it causes
severe mental distress to discover and then live with bedbugs over any period of
time.Many experts spoke, an entomologist from the Museum of Natural History as
well as another from Harvard University, a representative from some council on
mattress sellers, lawyers and representatives from the Housing Department,
exterminators, the Department of Health, and members of the public who are
dealing with bedbugs. All in all, there was a lot of repetitive information and
the bill itself wasn't discussed in much detail. What was clear is that bedbugs
are a problem that the city has to address in some way or another, either
through education or licensing exterminators for bedbugs, or legal means to
protect both homeowners and tenants. Hope this helps.

The Caitlinator also provided her own list of links to news stories covering the hearing.

"City Council Working To Stomp Out Growing Bed Bug Problem" - NY1

Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced the bill and says they can affect any
New Yorker. "I have received calls from personal experiences from friends living
in brownstones on the West Side of Manhattan, and we have received calls from
individuals living in single room occupancies in residential hotels," she said.
"It does seem very clear to me that bed bugs do not discriminate based on

"Losing sleep over boom in bedbugs" - Newsday

After hundreds of complaints, the City Council held a public hearing yesterday
during which a Harvard University entomologist, pest-control experts and
officials with the Bloomberg administration agreed the bedbug population is
exploding across the city and throughout North America, Europe and
Australia. Apartments, hotel rooms, private homes - nowhere is safe.

"City takes aim at exploding bed bugs problem" – Newsday

After hundreds of complaints, the City Council held a public hearing Monday during which a Harvard University entomologist, pest-control experts and officials with the Bloomberg administration agreed the bed-bug population is exploding across the city and throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

Friday, September 29, 2006

DDT Debate

I'm pleased to see that a small debate has erupted (is there such a thing as a small eruption?) over the legalization of DDT. Already one reader have agreed with my previous DDT post while another has criticized me. The heart of the debate seems to be a 1960s book by Rachel Carson called Silent Spring. In the book, Carson claims that DDT causes cancer in humans and thins the shells of bird eggs. She also stressed this concept of environmental connectedness, which basically states that although a pesticide is designed to kill one organism, its effects are absorbed into the food chain, until it ultimately poisons humans.

Unfortunately for the late Rachel Carson, there has never been any substantial evidence of DDT and other pesticides killing or even hurting humans, and even the impact on widlife is not directly fatal.

Personally, I believe that DDT should be legalized, for two purposes:
1) To use in eradicating bed bugs
2) To do legitimate research on this chemical to verify just how harmful DDT may or may not be

I am a libertarian, which means I don't trust the government to make decisions about what I can do on my property, what I can do with or put in my body, and other personal decisions I make about my life. I believe the government, especially on the federal level, is highly unaccountable and does whatever it wants, including criminalizing things for political reasons rather than concern for the safety and well-being of Americans. I am an advocate for the legalization of marijuana, and not because I'm some huge pothead (I'm not) but because I feel the punishments associated with marijuana possession, trafficking and sales are far more harmful than the narcotic itself. Still, more and more people (especially Baby Boomers) claim that marijuana possesses certain medicinal benefits. Republicans say we must continue our War on Drugs and keep increasing the prison population by cracking down on marijuana. Democrats complain that they can't advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana because there isn't enough legitimate research.

Well, how can you conduct legitimate research on an illegal substance? The current research being done in the U.S. on marijuana is really very little compared to research conducted on the same substance in European universities and laboratories. This is because the U.S. has a War on Drugs and a slew of authoritarian rules and penalties for marijuana possession, trafficking and sales. There are many restrictions on how much research an American laboratory can do on marijuana, plus research can often take years and years for concrete results to emerge.

This is the same problem with DDT. How can research be done on an illegal pesticide? From what I've read so far on the DDT ban, it seems that Silent Spring jumpstarted the Environmentalism Movement in the U.S., some tree huggers formed special interest groups and forced the federal government to ban it completely by 1972. There is no mention of any attempt to research DDT in the 1960s or 70s to determine how true Carson's claims are. All I hear is Silent Spring + angry environmentalists = DDT ban.

Where do you stand on this issue?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bed Bug Hearing

First off, let me apologize for not keeping you up to date on the September 18 City Council bed bug hearing. I know it was more than a week ago, but work, school and my home life have me swamped and I promise I will get more information on what went on this week. If anyone attended that hearing and would like to give a report or commentary on hwo the hearing went, please leave a comment.

Though I haven't been able to thoroughly find out what took place at the hearing, I did visit the New York City Council web site and find out more about this bill. And yes, it is a bill, not a toothless resolution. As I explained before, a bill is a piece of legislation that if approved, becomes a law whereas a resolution, if approved is simply an official declaration (like declaring Black History Month or Breast Cancer Awareness Day or demanding George W. Bush withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq) which has no actual power behind it.

I'm in a bit of a rush right now, so I don't have time to break down everything I've seen on the Council web site about this bill, but I will be happy to provide the site's many links to this legislation. Let me know if any of these links are faulty.

The Official Terms of the Bill Known as Intro. 57-2006

The History of Intro. 57-2006

Report on Intro. 57-2006 from the Council Committee on Consumer Affairs

For those unfamiliar with government jargon and legalese, I promise to provide an adequate translation in my next post.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bed Bug City Council Hearing

For those of you who read Bugged Out back in February, you know that I reported that City Councilmember Gale Brewer announced plans to hold a hearing on the bed bug problem in New York City in hopes of finding a solution to the problem.

Well, I just recieved a heads up from her people about the hearing, scheduled to be held this Monday, September 18 at 1 pm. I strongly encourage everybody who can show up to this hearing to do so. Here is the message I receieved.

Legislation Bans Bed Bug Breeding Grounds

Contact: Shula Warren Office: (212) 788-6975 Mobile: (347) 668-9576

WHAT: Public Hearing on Int. 57: “ The Bed Bug Bill”

WHO: Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Entomologist Dr. Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. Richard Pollack of the Harvard School of Public Health, Steven DeCastro, Esq., Jeffrey Eisenberg of Pest Away Exterminating, and others

WHEN: 1 p.m., Monday, September 18, 2006

WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall

Council Member Gale A. Brewer (D-Manhattan) will join Council Member Leroy Comrie, Chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs at a public hearing on Intro 57-2006 ("The Bed Bug Bill") on Monday, September 18, 2006 from 1pm-4pm in the Council Chambers, located on the second floor of City Hall. Intro 57, as introduced by Council Member Gale A. Brewer (District 6: Upper West Side, Manhattan), bans the sale of reconditioned mattresses and establishes a Bed Bug Task Force to explore solutions to this problem and look at ways to educate the public about bed bugs. City agency officials, entomologists, and exterminators have been invited to testify. Members of the public are also encouraged to testify on their personal experiences with bed bugs. Bed bug infestations have reached epidemic levels throughout the City, affecting New Yorkers in households of all economic levels, hotels, and even police precincts.


Unfortunately, I have class on Monday until 2:30 and I wont be able to get to City Hall before 4 pm. I will be calling the Council Press Corps to gather testimonies given by the four aforementioned seakers and anyone else who shows up to provide testimony. If anyone wants to speak at the hearing and shock the audience with your own bed bug horror story, go for it.

FYI: City Hall is right next to the City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge station on the 4 train. I don't recommend driving there, as parking in lower Manhattan is a bitch. Once you get out of the train station City Hall will be easy to find as it is surrounded by cops. Prepare for the metal detector; what I do is just remove my coat and run it through the conveyor rather than have the cop wave that stupid metal detector wand up and down my body 10,000 times. Bring ID as the NYPD will not let you enter City Hall without it.

Once you're inside the Council Chambers, please do not make any outbursts or applause as the Council security guards act like nightclub bouncers and will promptly throw you out of City Hall altogether. Most of the more prominent speakers will provide written copies of their testimony a minute or two before they say it to the Council and the audience. The copies that the speaker gives to the guard will be stacked onto the press table. If you don't have a press ID, the guards may not let you take a copy. The best thing to do in this situation is to approah the speaker (after they've given testimony and have returned to their seat) and ask them for a hard copy or to send you a copy via e-mail.

If whatever you have to say sounds smilar or identical to testimony given by someone before you, the best thing to do is simply state your name, state that you agree with the previous speaker and state your support for any legislation that can help rid New Yorkers of bed bugs. Repeating what was just said makes the speaker look stupid and wastes everyone's time. Understand that everything you say when you step up to the podium will be recorded by the Council and any

Chances are there will be significant media coverage of this hearing, so I will provide links to any articles I find on this event.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The DDT Link

I came across this seemingly mundane article from this web site for a news station in Ohio. It read the same as a hundred other stories I'd seen: bed bugs unseen in U.S. for fifty years, they hide in beds and headboards, bites and welts, etc.

But then I saw something rather interesting, dare I say, fascinating.

But 50 years after DDT basically eradicated bed bugs in this country, they're back.
DDT is banned now, so getting rid of the quarter-inch little buggers isn't easy. . . but getting them is.

I had seen a correlation months ago between the period of time that bed bugs seemed to have been (almost) driven to extinction in the U.S. (1950s-1960s) and 1972, the year DDT was banned by the EPA. Some web sites and news reports I've read have alluded to the connection between bed bugs and DDT, but this is the first time I've seen a news report clearly link the two together.

I quickly Googled "DDT and bed bugs" and found a lot of interesting links, which I will share with you now.

From what I've read so far, the main reason for the demand for the legalization of DDT is the rise of malaria in third-world countries. Apparently, DDT was used primarily to kill the mosquitoes which carried malaria. In The DDT Ban Myth, it states the following passage from a book titled Trashing the Planet:

Public health statistics from Sri Lanka testify to the effectiveness of the
spraying program. In 1948, before the use of DDT, there were 2.8 million
cases of malaria. By 1963, there were only 17. Low levels of
infection continued until the late 1960s, when the attacks on DDT in the U.S.
convinced officials to suspend spraying. In 1968, there were one million
cases of malaria. In 1969, the number reached 2.5 million, back to the
pre-DDT levels. Moreover, by 1972, the largely unsubstantiated charges
against DDT in the United States had a worldwide effect. In 1970, of two
billion people living in malaria regions, 79 percent were protected and the
expectation was that malaria would be eradicated. Six years after the
United States banned DDT, there were 800 million cases of malaria and 8.2
million deaths per year. Even worse, because eradication programs were
halted at a critical time, resistant malaria is now widespread and travelers
could take it home.

From what I've read, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that alleged DDT as being harmful to humans, even in trace amounts. The main concern is that a few humans have experienced some non-fatal side effects of DDT ingestion and that birds are affected by laying eggs with thinner eggs, increasing the chances for baby birds to die before hatching.

A small price to pay for the legalization of DDT, I think.

I think now is the time to contact our Congressmembers and demand for the legalization of DDT. When they ask why, you can tell them how your heart goes out to all the little African and South Asian children who lost their mommies and daddies to malaria. Of course, you can also remind them that millions of Americans are suffering psychologically from bed bugs, real estate values are plummeting from properties infested with bed bugs and our nation's hospitality industry will suffer with a drecrease in foreign visitors--and all the money they bring with them.

Of course, Congress will drag its ass to get this done, so in the meantime (I hope this isn't too irresponsible to propose). why don't we smuggle it in? Every day, cocaine, marijuana, firearms, Cuban cigars, people, and all other sorts of contraband that find its way past our country's borders and into our homes. So why not DDT?

For anyone reading this who regularly purchases illegal drugs, please tell your friendly neighborhood drug dealer you'd like to know just how much it would cost to get your hands on some DDT. Trust me, this is basic economics: create the demand, and the supply will create itself. There must be some part of the world where DDT is still legal. And that part of the world is about to get a lot of American dollars.

Or maybe we could manufacture DDT in the garages and tool sheds of those cute little suburban homes they way they do with the meth labs. We could be proud because like crystal meth, DDT is also MADE IN AMERICA!!!!

(waving the Stars and Stripes)

God, I hope this entry doesn't get me arrested.


Has It Really Been A Month?

Hey everybody. I have to apologize for taking so long to post.

Thanks to a summer job I took working on a political campaign, I've been working 12 to 15-hour days, six to seven days a week. Thankfully, the Democratic Primary was last Tuesday, and the sweatshop has closed down. I'm back to working a few hours a day and juggling school, allowing me to return to the rest of my life, and of course, this blog.

For thsoe of you who have been reading the previous entries, I did recieve the Suspend AC in the mail. but due to the busy work schedule between August and this week, I didn't have time to mix and apply it! Thankfully, there have been only two or three bed bug sightings since August.

Expect to see a new post tomorrow, or perhaps even today.

And again, sorry to leave you hanging for so long.