Bed bug bills being considered in Connecticut

by nobugsonme on February 22, 2011 · 12 comments

in bed bug laws, bed bug legislation, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, connecticut, mattresses

Connecticut lawmakers are proposing a number of bills aimed at controlling the spread of bed bugs in Connecticut.

According to NBC Connecticut,

One bill up for consideration would require that rental furniture be inspected and certified that it is free of bed bugs.

Another bill would require people who remanufacture mattresses to include proof that the mattress have been inspected to ensure they too are bed bug free.

The other bill focuses on landlords and would require them to inform tenants if bed bugs have been present in a rented unit within a year and to make ‘reasonable efforts’ to eliminate bed bugs once the landlords are aware of their presence and for tenants to cooperate in efforts to eliminate bed bugs.

More formally, these are:

General Assembly Proposed Bill No. 5874
Referred to Committee on General Law
Introduced by:   REP. AYALA, 128th Dist.


To ensure that rental furniture is inspected for bed bugs and certified as being bed bug free prior to rental.

General Assembly Proposed Bill No. 5858
Referred to Committee on General Law
Introduced by:   REP. AYALA, 128th Dist.


To require individuals who re-manufacture mattresses to provide proof that such mattress have been inspected to ensure they are bed bug free.

Proposed Bill No. 540
Referred to Committee on Public Health
Introduced by:   SEN. FASANO, 34th Dist.


To protect the public by developing strategies to combat the spread of bed bugs.

This bill proposes a variety of possible measures including:

(1) Requiring landlords to inform tenants bed bugs have been present in a rented unit within the last year, (2) requiring landlords to make reasonable efforts to eliminate bed bugs once the landlords are aware of their presence, (3) requiring tenants to cooperate in efforts to eliminate bed bugs, (4) requiring the Department of Public Health to develop standards for the disposal of mattresses or furniture exposed to bed bugs, and (5) requiring the Department of Public Health to develop an educational campaign to inform people of the steps that can be taken to avoid and remedy bed bug infestations.

The status of proposed bill 540, proposed by Sen. Len Fasano, is that it was referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health on 1/21.

Both of the other bills, proposed by Rep. Andres Ayala (5748 and 5858), were scheduled to be considered in a public hearing today (2/22/2011).  You can find out more about the hearing here (scroll down to General Law Committee, Tuesday, February 22, 2011).

I am glad to see legislation considered to help fight bed bugs.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking every bed bug bill is worth supporting.  These bills are often proposed by people who do not know enough about bed bug behavior and control.

I find proposed bills 5748 and 5858 very problematic. While the goals are admirable, in practice, it is actually quite difficult to visually inspect mattresses or rental furniture of any kind for bed bugs, which can easily hide inside crevices.

Canine scent detection may be more reliable than having humans glance at the items, but is not 100% accurate, so that is not a reliable alternative.

Having secondhand mattresses or used furniture “inspected” and labeled as “certified” seems to me like it will just give lots of people a false sense of security that the items they’re bringing into their homes are bed bug-free, when in fact, the inspections will not guarantee this.

I would recommend instead that items be treated using methods which, done properly, reliably eliminate bed bugs and eggs in one treatment: Vikane gas fumigation is one such option, heat (thermal) treatment is another.

The third proposed bill (540), while not yet up for a hearing, is much more promising: landlord disclosure, landlords and tenants both doing their part in treatment, mattress disposal and educational campaigns all seem like positive steps to me.  Of course, we have to see how these steps will be implemented.

1 NotSoSnug February 23, 2011 at 12:31 am

Well it’s a start that’s for sure.

It’s not my jurisdiction and I doubt we’ll ever see it since BBs are not considered enough of a public health issue in any jurisdiction I know of, but I would love to see a mandatory Public Registry where every infestation has to be registered by location and treatment service provider/technique. And also, the creation of an inspection requirement such as for cockroaches, rats etc in eating establishments. All the obfuscation would be then be unveiled. Until the bribes kicked in…

2 Doug Summers MS February 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I fully agree that K9 inspection is not 100% and that effective treatment with thermal or Vikane fumigation would be the best course of action.

I would just make the argument that K9 inspection is the most cost effective approach.

A competent K9 team can detect bugs that a human observer will easily miss… K9 inspection may not be !00%, but it is several times more effective than quick visual by a human inspector on light infestations.

The cost of universal treatment is not sustainable for most small organizations that use donated items to raise funds for social causes… The other problem is the potential for a consumer to infest the furniture in the store after treatment.

If we let people sit on the furniture in the showroom, then how do we know it has not been exposed to bugs in the showroom?

Even universal treatment is not going to be 100%, if the items are kept in areas that are accessed by the public.

Most used furniture outlets will dispose an infested item rather than bear the cost of treatment, if bed bugs are discovered during a screening… They do not like the concept of selling a treated item in other cases.

This is a very difficult problem to solve… Visual inspection is a step in the right direction, but I would suggest that routine K9 screening is the only method that will be economically feasible with the best accuracy that is currently available.

3 Ci Lecto February 24, 2011 at 7:54 am

“make reasonable efforts” is too ambiguous for my comfort.

4 nobugsonme February 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Hi Doug,

You’re right, perhaps I was too hard on the dog idea. The problem for me is that quality seems to vary widely. We usually hear of problems with false positives (in cases where they aren’t visually verified). I am not sure how common a problem false negatives are.

Canines could be a worthwhile tool for testing used mattresses. They won’t be 100% accurate, and I think this should be made clear to sellers and potential purchasers alike.

5 nobugsonme February 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Good catch, Cilecto. I don’t like that either.

6 NoanestheticNYC February 25, 2011 at 12:23 am

In my view the biggest obstacle to limiting, much less controlling, this problem is the organization of regulation, resources, and resolution around the requirement of visual evidence. At least in highly trafficked, densely populated settings where most people live in multiple family dwellings, we should assume as a matter of fact the presence and especially the continuous resupply of bedbugs in public, private, and workplace settings, and save ourselves the conflict and expense of inspection/detection/dispute (repeat). The only way to address the problem in these settings is regular, universal structural fumigation of every place lived in or traversed by more than one family or person. After many years of exponentially increased costs and conflicts and drastically reduced livability and viability, we will find in the end that regular, universal structural fumigation is less costly than the measures like those contemplated in these proposals and elsewhere on this site (and others).

I myself expect to bring bedbugs home every day I leave and return to the house we are about to buy and move into in order to get out of our lovely apartment in a beautiful location where the bedbugs are coming in through the wall cuts for the plumbing and the management company will only send in 30 minute baseboard jockeys, after finding “no visual evidence” and lying about doing inspections of surrounding units. I also expect that we will have to have our house fumigated probably twice a year to keep the population down. The notion that anything less is viable is desperate (which I completely understand) or delusional.

7 nobugsonme February 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Hi Noanesthetic,

I understand that a bout with bed bugs can leave you very anxious about getting them again. I think that’s something most of us around here can relate to. Living in a building as you describe, where bed bugs may travel between units, can make it hard to eliminate the problem.

However, I do not think that everyone should be fumigating their homes twice a year, and I would not consider myself “desperate or delusional.”

It may feel like you are going to get bed bugs everywhere you go. However, while they are expert hitchikers, they do not spread so very easily. If someone was in a high-risk occupation (working somewhere with bed bugs: for example, a shelter; social workers or nurses who visit clients at home; pest management professionals), they could take steps to avoid bringing bed bugs home from work, which might include using a Packtite to treat coats and purses, and sealing clothing until it can be washed and dried.

If you really are suffering from bed bugs constantly, and having to have your future single-family home treated with a one-shot treatment like Vikane fumigation twice a year just to “keep the population down”, then, in my opinion, you need to do something to minimize exposure or mitigate the effects of necessary exposure (as I outline in the past paragraph).

Passive monitors like BBAlert Passive can be deployed to help you monitor that your home stays bed bug free. If you do have bed bugs, monitors should help you find visual evidence, which really is necessary. If over time you are unable to visually confirm the presence of bed bugs, I would look to other possible explanations for your skin troubles.

8 NoanestheticNYC February 26, 2011 at 1:49 am


Just to clarify: I don’t think everyone, or even most people, should fumigate their houses twice a year, and I’m certainly not suggesting that people so situated are otherwise desperate or delusional! I just expect to have to myself, because of where I work and commute. Subways and train platforms, as well as densely-packed school settings, repopulate very quickly even when treated, I find–people who live and work in different settings would not have to, in single family houses. I do think that multifamily dwellings, large workplaces, and public spaces including transport settings should be fumigated regularly, without a visual evidence prerequisite, if for no other reason than that not every space or occupant is amenable to the collection of such evidence (for example, there are (older) people in my building who can’t find their own front doors, much less run a monitor!). Perhaps this is peculiar to New York City or other densely populated, highly vertical areas. As long as the infestation is located in my dwelling unit I have no trouble acquiring visual evidence–I have a whole collection at this point. What I don’t have is a place to point to in my apartment where the bugs are harboring, and because we rent, I can’t rip out cabinets, walls, medicine cabinets, baseboards, utility ducts, etc.. The issue is with the spaces I can’t control that are adjacent to, or frequently travelled to and from, my living space. If I thought the city could cut down on the bedbug population in public transportation, school, and entertainment/recreational settings, I imagine I’d almost never have to fumigate, once we get into a single family house. But we are factoring it into the annual cost of the house.

Thanks for the feedback!

9 nobugsonme February 26, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Thanks for the clarification, NoanestheticNYC — I had misunderstood your points.

10 Robf70837 February 28, 2011 at 6:18 am

Having watched the public hearings on my local cable station, I was not too encouraged by these bills. The representatives for the rental companies stated that their mattresses are treated with Sterifab. There was no mention at all concerning any treatment of the trucks used to pick up and deliver the mattresses.

When proposed bill 540 comes up for public hearing I hope to be able to get time off from work and testify using my own experience with my former landlord.

11 nobugsonme February 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for your comment, Robf70839.

You’re right that the protocol you described is dodgy.

Steri-Fab as a product has its usefulness, but a spray with a mild residual such as this (or any spray, for that matter) is not likely in my opinion to render a mattress bed bug-free. The “spray it with Steri-Fab” plan seems alarmingly common for treating used mattresses and upholstered furniture.

12 Exterminator Toronto February 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I agree with this comment. K9 detection is likely the most accurate method of inspecting the furniture, not too sure if people are willing to accept the increased costs though. Heat treatment also the most effective solution to these items. Unless the item is in very good condition it may not be worth the cost of inspection and treatment, may be the same as buying the item new.

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