Representative Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) introduced the Bed Bug Management, Prevention and Research Act (HR 967) in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 9th, 2011.
. . . amend the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to support efforts to control and eradicate bed bugs with respect to public health, and for other purposes.
Section 2 of the bill would establish a Bed Bug Research Program, by amending Section 1672 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 5925) to add a section on Bed Bug Control, and to provide for grants for
(A) Developing more efficacious chemicals and chemical methods of detecting, preventing, and managing bed bugs.
(B) Identifying or discovering affordable and effective methods of managing bed bugs, including basic and applied biology and demonstration research projects.
It would also establish a Task Force to help award those grants, made up by representatives of the pest management industry, the hospitality industry, the multi-family housing management industry, public health organizations, and “any other group or industry the Secretary determines is significantly impacted by bed bugs.”
If there’s one thing we definitely need, it’s more funding for bed bug research.
Section 3 of the bill would
(a) Include Bed Bugs in the Definition of Vector Organisms.
(b) Change the criteria the EPA would need to consider in the registration of a public health pesticide. As I understand it, this would force the EPA to look at a pesticide being considered for use against bed bugs and ask,
- If alternatives which work well and are registered to kill bed bugs exist, and if not,
- If this “will reasonably lead to misuse of other pesticides or other inappropriate pest management strategies” (both of which we have seen in the case of bed bugs: for example, consumers spraying illegal pesticides indoors, on the one hand, and spreading bed bugs or setting their homes on fire with inappropriate methods such as bombs, on the other);
- Whether the approval of this pesticide will help manage pesticide resistance.
This seems to have significant ramifications in terms of getting more effective pesticides which already exist registered for use against bed bugs.
(c) Require efficacy data for exempted pesticides (i.e. those which are exempt from EPA registration due to low toxicity):
…the Administrator shall require the submission of efficacy data (and evaluate such data) if the pesticide is labeled for or proposed to be labeled for the control of a pest of public health significance. The Administrator shall not permit the sale or distribution of any product that is marketed, distributed, or sold with a claim that such product will control a public health pest if the efficacy data submitted under this subsection does not support such claim.
In other words, this would help protect consumers from products which don’t really work in treating bed bugs.
Take that, snake oil salesmen!
Purveyors of legitimate bed bug sprays and other products have nothing to fear from this requirement, but they do need to prove their product is worth the money. In many cases, we ask manufacturers for such data and they often cannot provide it; some also provide data which sounds good, but on closer inspection seems a bit iffy.
It would be nice if something similar could be done for bed bug-related products which are not pesticides.
Finally, the bill would
(d) Establish a Bed Bug Prevention and Mitigation Pilot Program, by which state agencies will fund political subdivisions and housing authorities which are “addressing persistent bed bug infestations” and situations where “residents lack the financial resources to adequately mitigate bed bug infestations.”
The grants could be used to hire professionals to provide bed bug treatment, for purchasing mattress encasements, for “bed bug monitoring activities,” and for treating “used mattresses and furniture using methods proven to control all life stages of bed bugs.”
Again, this could potentially make a big difference in people’s lives.
The people who are hardest hit by bed bugs are those who do not have the means to pay for treatment, or who are trapped in housing where the problem is being mishandled or insufficiently treated (for example, due to funding issues).
We have not really seen any press on this bill yet outside of the pest control industry websites, but according to this article on Pestworld.org, the National Pest Management Association is getting behind this bill, and has asked its members to encourage Congressional representatives to support it.
This bill looks pretty good to me. What do you think?
If you want to contact your Congressional representatives and encourage them to support HR 967, you can do so here.