Where are the Responsible Professionals in Pest Control? I Know You’re Out There!

January 14th, 2011

I wrote an article in 2002 about the forms of pest control typically used in schools to the detriment of both children and adults. Titled, “Getting the Bugs Out”, it was the first article I published after losing my ability to work from the effects of pesticide poisoning suffered in a school I was supervising in 1999. It spoke to the ingenuity of committed school personnel and responsible pest control professionals who were determined to protect buildings from health threats presented by vermin and insects. They knew they could do so without sacrificing the health of human occupants.

I did my own language and occupational therapy primarily from a bed in a garage apartment using a Web-TV. Selling that article was an incredible achievement for me and the product of around a year of rehabilitation work. Having it published marked the successful return of a significant portion of my impaired literacy skills. Yes, it took an editor days to reduce my six page story submission to three, well organized and grammatical pages for her publication. It was true that I would never again produce a good composition completely independently or with any speed that would adequately serve the needs of an employer or client. However, the cause for celebration was that I could once again research and formulate answers to basic questions, such as how a developmental disabilities specialist could lose 24 IQ points, becoming ADD and mildly aphasic, from working in her own school. The answer is pesticides. That leads to the next question of why anyone actually thinks that putting neuro-toxic chemicals in a school represents sound science or good social policy. That question hasn’t received the consideration it is due despite a decade of ‘study’ regarding the School Environment Protection Act, buried deep in the bowels of some legislative committee.

I saw that article referenced on a website just yesterday. The internet address, commonly called a URL read:


In case you missed the abbreviated references, they read as, “pest control – oh my god let’s barbecue.com/the armchair activist”. Yes, that’s me. Well, any industry website that would refer so disparagingly to the author of an article lauding its most responsible members as mine does, just might not boast enough professionals to deserve the public’s trust.

Perhaps the EPA needs to rethink the supervision of any industry that allows poison to be sold on store shelves right next to food without the can being shrink wrapped. Cigarettes and liquor are poisons only sold to adults but any child can buy a can of pesticide along with a chocolate bar (and hope the can doesn’t leak as the items are placed in a bag together).

Perhaps the EPA needs to rethink the supervision of an industry that sprays occupied buildings with chemicals developed for use outdoors on farmland. Considering the fact that both the EPA and the CDC are unable to tell physicians how to test patients for pesticide exposures, supervision might need to come from a higher authority. I continue to hope that Administrator Jackson will personally intervene in this egregious violation of the FIFRA laws.

Perhaps the pesticide industry needs to adopt better policies for educating its membership. There certainly needs to be stricter policies developed for protecting vulnerable occupants of schools, hospitals and households from toxic chemicals. If they do this independently, Congress might have one less industry to regulate.

Barbara Rubin
The Armchair Activist

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