Pests and Asthma

Allergens associated with pests such as cockroaches and rodents are potent and pervasive asthma triggers. A 2006 study found cockroach allergens on an average of 11% of all U.S. living room floors and 13% of all U.S. kitchen floors. Rates are even higher in substandard housing. For example, in the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study, 37% of the children studied were allergic to cockroach allergen, yet high levels of the allergen were found in the dust of 50% of their bedrooms.

Integrated Pest Management

The old methods of pest control- still too commonly used- rely on monthly spraying of volatile and toxic insecticides for roaches and the use of strong poisons for rodents. These methods are costly, ineffective in the long run, and potentially dangerous. Even when done properly, spraying can leave persistent pesticide residue. Irritant chemicals in some insecticide sprays can actually trigger asthma attacks and poisons used for rodents are one of the most common sources of poisoning of young children.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the pest control industry’s state-of-the-art alternative. It is safer, more effective and cheaper in the long-run than the old methods. IPM utilizes pest monitoring, environmental controls, mechanical capture and targeted applications of small amounts of low-volatility, least-toxic pesticides (also known as “roach baits”) applied out of the reach of children.

Quick Guides:

EHW’s Cockroach Allergen Reduction Project

This project explored improved methods of cockroach control and allergen cleanup in three multi-family complexes operated by the public housing authority in Cleveland, Ohio. It found that the combination of cockroach infestation reduction through precision-targeted IPM (including hot air flushing and HEPA vacuuming), a one-time professional cleaning based on the HUD lead dust cleaning protocol, occupant education and occupant on-going cleaning effort was able to substantially reduce cockroach allergen levels.

Additional IPM Resources

Additional Pest Control Resources

Arrest the Pests in Your Nest

IPM- Focus on Roaches & Asthma (PPT)

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