The Khaleej Times reports that residents of Abu Shagara, a neighborhood of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates which is known for its used furniture shops, are calling for the stores to be relocated to non-residential areas due to concerns about rodents and insects, including bed bugs.
The Khaleej Times states,
Residents of areas popular for their used furniture shops are facing a peculiar problem: Rise in rodents and insects, which they believe is happening due to the old furniture stocked in the showrooms of their buildings in Sharjah. Affected areas include Immigration Road, areas around the Sharjah Civil Defence and Al Wahda Street.
Residents in these areas have filed complaints with the Sharjah Municipality about the health hazards they are facing due to the rise in rodents and bed bugs, but no action has been taken thus far. Concerned residents are demanding that the authorities shift the used furniture markets to non-residential areas to ensure safe and healthy environment for families.
It’s understandable that residents would not want to live near stores which had bed bugs, or other insect or rodent problems.
However, bed bugs pose a special problem that relocating secondhand shops won’t fully solve, because the pests will travel with customers and on items sold secondhand to any area of the city.
For this reason, more extreme steps need to be taken by shopowners to make sure items sold are not infested with bed bugs. The same article quotes a senior city official, who notes that
“Used furniture outlets and other establishments have to comply with the general cleanliness rules stipulated by [the Environment section of the Sharjah Municipality] and should be free from pests that are harmful to human health.”
Used furniture needs thorough treatment to ensure it is free of bed bugs and their eggs. And shopkeepers as well as officials may not be aware of how thoroughly the items must be treated.
This isn’t a problem exclusive to the UAE, of course.
Where I live in New York, the laws regarding sanitization of used mattresses may not be strict enough to ensure used mattresses which are being sold are truly bed bug-free (this 2010 article goes into why this is so). For example, here in NYC, one issue highlighted in the media has been the use of contact kill sprays, which only kill bed bugs that are sprayed directly.
It is possible to completely eliminate bed bugs and eggs using heat treatment in a container, or various kinds of fumigation in a container (if these are legal in the specific location).
However, if bed bugs are a problem in secondhand furniture shops in Sharjah, residents need to worry about more than where the stores are located.