Bed Bug Management, Prevention and Research Act (HR 967) proposed in Congress

by nobugsonme on March 25, 2011 · 15 comments

in bed bug laws, bed bug legislation, bed bug research, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, EPA, money, pesticides

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.

HR 967, which as of this writing has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, would

. . . 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.

[Emphasis added.]

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.”

[Emphasis added.]

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, 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.

1 Marianna aka zlatik March 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

While the first part is necessary, important, and sounds very reasonable, the second part seems to be extremely underdeveloped and poorly thought through. More of a ” we talked about it, it was too hard, we’ll talk about it next year” in the best case scenario and in the worst “we talked about it, we threw some moneyssss your way, you deal with it”. Either approach will bring more harm than good and just give another reason for our government to fail, yet again.

If I were a congresswoman, I would be suggesting to work on encourage insurance companies to develop new and improved insurance plans and to provide greater incentives for hotels, college campuses, private hospitals, private schools, and other big private sector establishments to effectively deal, manage, and prevent bed bug problems. This problem is not a problem that can be solved by one at a time approach and needs to be addressed on a more global scale by efficient and effective means. Creating more red tape and wasting money is just not it.


2 Riverman63 March 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I’ve been led to believe that allthis BB trouble is due to the banning of DDT. Is this true?

3 nobugsonme March 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Not really, Riverman63.

DDT was banned in the US 25+ years before bed bugs started springing back in such numbers. They were probably always present in small numbers.

Experts seem to think they sprang back due to a number of factors which may include changes in the ways we use other pesticides. For example, the way we control cockroaches (which are now treated with gels rather than routine baseboard spraying). Increased international travel and mobility are also cited as factors (although, again, international travel is nothing new).

4 nobugsonme March 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Hi Marianna,

Thanks for your comments. I was not sure which parts of the bill you were referring to as “the first” and “second” parts.

Are you in favor of the research funding described in section two, but not the changes in the way the EPA considers pesticides, or the plan to require efficacy data for EPA-exempt pesticides, and the plans to fund treatment of persistent cases and where residents cannot afford treatment, in section three?

5 Marianna aka zlatik March 26, 2011 at 12:43 am


I apologize for the confusion, I think I wrote that before my first cup of coffee. By part 1 I meant section 2 and by part 2 I meant section 3.

6 nobugsonme March 26, 2011 at 2:02 am

Thanks, Marianna!

It happens to me all the time too.

Well, I will say this: the changes in the way the EPA considers pesticides might help us to get access to insecticides which are known to work better on bed bugs, but which are currently not labeled for killing them. This seems well thought out to me.

The plan to require efficacy data for EPA-exempt pesticides, and to screen this data, would help consumers who currently spend a lot of money on “miracle bed bug killers!” which aren’t miraculous. Which, in fact, do no more than many common household products. This also seems well thought out to me. Bed bugs are the Wild West and any snake oil salesman can put up a website and start shilling expensive bottles of detergent and alcohol — and not even admit they’re just contact killers.

The plans to fund treatment of persistent cases and where residents cannot afford treatment aren’t very detailed. I know some people don’t agree with using government funds in this way, and perhaps this is a concern you have.

However, bed bugs are spreading so easily partly because large sections of society have little or no hope of eliminating them in their homes — and this situation is not only making people live with bed bugs indefinitely, but also causing bed bugs to spread to more people, all kinds of people, every day.

I can’t say whether these programs will work well, because we don’t know enough yet about what will be done. However, there is a definite need for serious help.

Finally, I would love to see insurance companies covering bed bug problems. We hear this is unheard of right now.
I have a bad feeling that isn’t going to change. If I’m not mistaken, you can’t get flood insurance in Brooklyn.

If that’s so, I can’t imagine insurers wanting to take on bed bugs? Perhaps as an optional policy, but how expensive that would be, given the likelihood of people cashing in?

Anyway, I do appreciate your input!

7 Carpathian Peasant March 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm


Better some law than no law.

I am absolutely delighted over the thought that my ex-landlord may have to pay for extermination rather than sending maintenance with something they got at bargain prices, then running out people in December if the bugs were still around. — I couldn’t have brought in the bugs since I didn’t go anywhere for months and no one came over except two ladies once a month with food. And, the nearest one lived twenty-five miles away.

🙂 🙂

(I’m lucky to be alive. I’m sure some people aren’t.)


8 Doug Summers MS March 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

2009-2010 NY Assembly Bill A11701 Status 9/1/2010 referred to Insurance amended §§ 3407-a Insurance Law (Requires insurers who underwrite property and casualty policies in the state to cover costs associated with bedbug infestations.)

I believe this is the state insurance bill that was introduced earlier this year that would require insurance companies that provide property and casualty policies in NY to offer a rider for bed bug control coverage.

I doubt that the bull will pass this year, but I think that requiring insurers to offer coverage to property owners for bed bug control would be good public policy.

Insurance coverage for the cost of eradicating a bed bug infestation from a building would allow a building owner, condo association or co-op to quantify and control the cost of bed bug eradication for annual budgeting purposes.

This type of program could provide coverage building by building to promote IPM programs that look at the entire building in a holistic fashion rather than promoting spot treatments paid for by the individual occupants I

9 Doug Summers MS March 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

I meant to write the word “bill” in that third paragraph… but bull does give it a more humorous edge 🙂

I think building wide coverage is the only level where this kind of privately financed insurance program will work… Relying on individual renters insurance coverage that is optional will never be viable…. the policies would likely be unaffordable with a small pool of consumers that opt for the additional cost.

10 Marianna aka zlatik March 28, 2011 at 9:27 am


I do have an inner conflict with regards to control over sale of pesticides and PCOs. While, I do believe there should be some basic control to ensure that the use of such chemicals and PCO incompetence are not detrimental to health of the consumer but at the same time I also believe that a consumer has to educate themselves before purchasing anything. I strongly believe that an individual responsibility to be a “smart” buyer has to be emphasized more and more and has been neglected. Involvement of the government facilitates “lazy” buyers. Personally, I do not feel bad for people who purchased products on whim and then realized those products do not work. There are plenty of products and services out there that are useless and cost a lot of money, but we dont seem to be upset about those, are we? I also hold people to the same standard I hold myself. I freaked out over bed bugs like no other and I thought of purchasing all those products, but before I purchased anything I did my research and figured out what I should not and should do.

The biggest reservation to that logic are people who are too old or too young to do their research and those who are too poor to have access to the internet. This is where things get complicated. If the government was to help those people, how would we decide who is eligible and who is not? Furthermore, a government run program presents with million and one challenges such as what to do with illegal immigrants? will we have a checkmark list of who will qualify for help/treatment? What kind fo treatment to use? etc…

Due to the nature of the problem I believe that there is only one government program that is appropriate and that is an educational program. And hour or two hour seminar that is provided at schools, work, colleges, hospitals, and etc. Seminar covers basic bed bugs 101, prevention, treatment, pesticides, PCOs…

In terms of insurance. The way I see it, there should be unique separate insurance for “bugs problems” such as bed bugs, but also termites and so on. If you want it great, if you do not, oh well. Different plans for different folks, some would include monthly inspections and hotel for treatment period, others would limit to two treatments. Either way, the point here is to provide people with sense of security and support and most importantly a phone number to call when they have suspicions. I understand that this may not be realistic, but I also know that something similar must emerge quickly as a need for bed bug comprehensive solutions rises.


11 Doug Summers MS March 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

HR 967 is a federal bill that deserves our undivided support, if we want to see progress on a national level.

I think that a few amendments will produce a good bill that could make real contribution toward a nationwide effort to control bed bugs.

I feel that the research grant program should be opened to efficacious non-chemical methods for detecting, preventing and managing bed bugs in addition to chemical methods, for example.

I think that the EPA should be directed to examine the safety in addition to the efficacy of exempt products… There should also be research grants that fund these efficacy / safety studies for exempt products to ensure that small companies can compete with large corporations… I would hate to see effective products kept off of the market due to the enormous costs of producing the required research studies

12 Doug Summers MS March 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

Government funded treatment would have to be universal or the program will be doomed to failure… Excluding anyone for any reason is a huge error… The process of creating lists and approving applications is really quite expensive.

We have to drop our political blinders and realize that excluding any class of people will create chronic reservoirs of bed bug infestation that will continue to infest the community.

Universal treatment means providing equal access to the program for everyone… Rich or poor… Legal or undocumented.. Owner, renter or illegal sub lease…. Everyone that lives in the building.

The bed bugs don’t discriminate… If we discriminate between “eligible and non-eligible” families that live in the same building, then we will never eliminate bed bugs from that building.

Simple IPM fact of life… Treatment must be universal and holistic… or the entire treatment effort will be doomed to failure.

Don’t become too concerned about this kind of program being financed by your tax dollars… Universal treatment will never pass in today’s political climate.

Even many people suffering with bed bug infestations will oppose these programs.

Spending tax money to pay for pest control for families does not have a significant political constituency at the present time and the political will to do so is unlikely to materialize anytime in the near future.

The prevalence of bed bug infestations will need to become much worse in our society before we start to see any significant public support for helping individual families.

13 Marianna aka zlatik March 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm

As you said in your post, there is no chance of it ever becoming universal and non-universal approach will not do much good. So why try and waste money? Maybe we should find a diferent approach all together, that would not require the government direct intervention?
Things like making a bed bug problem to be a landlord’s problem in all cases. Transperancy between a landlord and a tenant clauses

Personally, if I were able to vote, I would never support a universal program. That’s just me though.

14 nobugsonme March 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

HI Marianna,

Like so many other bills, one’s responses to this one probably have a lot to do with one’s political opinions generally.

If you don’t agree that public funding should be applied to the neediest and persistent cases, then we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

However, there seems to be some inconsistency in other things you’re saying. I’m not sure if you’re against the changes to the questions the EPA would ask when considering whether to allow the use of pesticides against a particular pest (in this case bed bugs), but I note these expanded questions proposed in the bill would potentially give consumers and PCOs more options, not fewer. (And as I understand it, more options seems to be what you’re advocating when it comes to whether makers of EPA-exempt pesticides should be required to prove efficacy.)

I suspect if those changes to the questions had been in place a few months ago, Ohio might now be allowing Propoxur to be used against bed bugs under specific conditions and in a controlled manner. Instead, it’s still not legal for this use.

And I do understand your perspective on letting consumers make up their minds about the efficacy of EPA-exempt pesticides, but don’t agree. Too many people are vulnerable to advertising, or may not have the time and energy to devote to researching this problem thoroughly, and their reliance on a pesticide that does not work may affect me (their neighbor, recipient of their untreated bed bugs), as well as causing hardship to them.

We don’t allow claims of medical efficacy to be made without proof by vitamin or potion companies, so why do we allow claims of pesticide efficacy to be made without proof?

I agree with Doug’s point that small companies which cannot pay for expensive independent testing should not be disadvantaged in being able to prove their product works. This is problematic. Still, I do believe consumers need help wading through the hundreds of available products.

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