We submitted comments on this proposal to amend the NYC Health Code (PDF). The proposed changes have to do with pest prevention and management, without reference to pesticides or application of pesticides, which are regulated by DEC.
Bed bugs were not specifically on the menu, but naturally we have some thoughts about that:
New York vs Bed Bugs is a policy advocacy group founded in response to the resurgence of bed bug infestations in New York City.
We have reviewed the proposed reenactment of Article 151 of the New York City Health Code and wish to comment on Section 151.02(c), “Pest management plans.”
Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects that are capable of active dispersal between apartments and between floors in a multi-unit dwelling. Eradication of a bed bug infestation, unlike that of other undesired insects or rodents, may require a costly and invasive regimen of multiple pest control treatments, including but not limited to the following protocols: a) laundering of every item of clothing and fabric, b) moving and emptying of furniture and household items, c) isolation and bagging of infested items that cannot be decontaminated, d) removal and disposal of infested items, and e) possible long-term storage of infested belongings.
Given the resurgence and spread of bed bug infestations in New York City, the invasive nature of current best-practice bed bug management protocols, the propensity for an infestation to spread between apartments, and the possibility of (sometimes significant) allergic reactions and secondary health effects to residents whose apartments are infested—as well as the particularly vulnerable position with regard to these risks of the elderly and disabled—where the identified pests are bed bugs, a pest management plan in a multi-unit dwelling should include a) notification of all residents, and b) inspection and possible simultaneous treatment of all apartments surrounding an infestation (the floor above, the floor below and all units on the same floor as the identified infestation).
The Board should consider making explicit provisions under Section 151.02(c) to ensure that the Department of Health, and other appropriate agencies, have the authority to mandate, as part of a written pest management plan, 1) the notification of all tenants in a building where a bed bug infestation has been identified, and 2) the inspection of all apartments adjoining an identified infestation.
We referenced some of the sources discussed here.
I also realized this week that anyone can petition the New York City Board of Health to adopt a rule. I never thought I’d say this but right now I really wish I were a lawyer.