Dear PoPville – Council Proposing Restrictions on Pesticides

Photo by PoPville flickr user [email protected]

Dear PoPville,

I work in agricultural policy and this was forwarded to me today. The DC Council is proposing some serious restrictions on pesticides that could really limit their use for the treatment of roaches, bed bugs, and other urban pests.

“DC City Council member Mary Cheh (D), chair of the Committee on Environment, Public Works and Transportation, introduced the “Pesticide Education and Control Amendment of 2012.” This measure would require the District Department of Environment to classify all US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered pesticides as either “minimum risk” or “restricted use” pesticides. Under this measure, any conventional pesticide may be classified as a restricted use pesticide, even if such a designation is not given by the U.S. EPA. The bill would forbid any pesticide designated as restricted use from being applied to public property, schools, child-occupied facilities or water-way contingent property. In addition, the legislation contains a definition of integrated pest management that would only allow the use of pesticides only as a last resort. Passage of this ordinance would affect the availability and use of pesticides in the District of Columbia. This legislation could limit the pesticides that could be used in the district to control rodents, bed bugs, cockroaches and other pests often found in DC apartment buildings.”

28 Comment

  • I work in agricultural policy

    Monsanto’s lobbying arm? Because this reads like the sort of sky-might-potentially-be-falling memo you’d get from a pesticide manufacturer who stands to lose a buck if we stop spreading dangerous chemicals around daycare centers.

    This is a public safety concern. I’m not familiar with what sort of regulation is already on the books in DC as far as pesticide use; but as long as the classifications are reasonable, I don’t see a big problem here.

  • This is fantastic news! I am all for it. Many municipalities in the US, Canada, and Europe are implementing similar measures as we learn more about the long-term toxicity of these kinds of chemicals. They should absolutely be used as last-resort measures only.

  • This is fantastic news! I am all for it. Many municipalities in the US, Canada, and Europe are implementing similar measures as we learn more about the long-term toxicity of these kinds of chemicals, especially to children and fetuses. They should absolutely be used as last-resort measures only.

  • Will it preclude application to rid us of herself and her colleagues?

  • sunsquashed

    Er, this seems a bit odd. While I’m all for reducing the amount of poisons/toxins in the environment (especially in an area where toxins flow out to the Potomac), strong toxic chemicals are sometimes needed for pest control. Given the recent bedbug epidemic, this seems to be a bad idea. It also seems to be a bad idea to pass this law before other “integrated pest management” solutions are already in place. My personal pet peeve is the fact that restaurant dumpsters are not legally required to be rat-proof. The amount of rats in my back yard area is so out of control (due to the restaurant next door) I can’t grow herbs because the rats tear them up. The rats have also burrowed under the concrete foundations of our house and several of our neighbors (fun!). Why doesn’t the city try to pass laws that will lead to reductions in rat populations before limiting the amount of options available. Reducing the amount of food available to rats (in dumpsters, public trashcans, unkempt backyards) and eliminating large nesting sites (i.e. abandoned buildings) will go a long way to solving rat problems… and then less toxins/poisons will be needed.

    • We’ve had fairly good response with the DC “rat patrol” baiting burrows in our back yards. But unless you call the frequently, meet them and take them by the hand to show them the places, they don’t seem to be too pro-active.

      Check out the little patch of ground next to the CVS on Irving St. just east of 14th St. There are hundreds of rats in dozens of active burrows here. It is rat city central!

    • You know, instead of jumping to conclusions about OP’s “hidden agenda” in forwarding this information, maybe you could just accept it at face value as an FYI and investigate the matter for yourself?

      The OP is not asking everyone to sign a petition to protect DC’s right to “spread dangerous chemicals around daycare centers” (thanks for that inflammatory language, btw) or looking to organize a flash mob to go after the head of Mary Cheh.

      Certainly, s/he may have interests to protect – shockers, don’t we all – but if that was included in the transmission to PoP wisely did not include that section in this post.

      And as much as I share some of the concerns expressed about the probably-too-liberal use of pesticides around the city, like sunsquashed I’d want to know that the bill includes regulations as to effective alternative means of rat control (and I’m pretty sure daycare centers are, too.) The problem is awful in my neighborhood and in many parts of the city, and I think it will just get worse as DC gets more and more densely populated.

      I’m not making up my mind one way or another based upon what the OP wrote. Cheh is fairly well-regarded as Council members go, so I’d be curious to see if the bill puts forth any provisions for the type of regulatory reform sunsquashed suggests or “Anon” 3:03 implies exist.

      • ah

        “Cheh is fairly well-regarded as Council members go”

        In the land of the blind the one-eyed (wo)man is king.

      • Thank you for this! I am the OP and do not work for Monsanto. I purposefully left out my opinion on this so that people would just have a heads up. I was even the person that provided the direct link to the actual summary of the bill.

  • Allison

    I personally would appreciate legislation that makes landlords at least disclose to tenants in the lease which pesticides are used when regular treatement is applied. I have no idea what chemicals are being pumped into my living space.

  • I could talk for hours and hours on this subject. The rat problem is out of control. It is exascerbated by little to no code enforcement of businesses and rental units (including illegal tenaments). I think we need to go scorched earth on this one. Poison the little f’ers with all available means. Think shock and awe but for rats.

    • because shock and awe worked so well in Iraq. Perhaps another analogy.

      • Shock and awe worked really well. If you recall, the invasion was a cinch. It is the intervening 9 years of occupation that were the problem.

    • Unfortunately, while shock and awe sounds good, even if you kill 90% of the rats in one blitz, rats can reach maturity at only 5 weeks of age. Females come into heat every 5 – 6 days, the gestation period is normally 22 days and the average litter is 6 – 13 pups. So we’re SOL. While they love food and certainly flourish more around dumpsters & sidewalk chicken bones, they are more interested in good burrows.

      Good rat control is a constant relentless effort to poison, eliminate burrows & restrict food access – a difficult challenge even for a functional city. But definitely if you see burrows on your property – call vector control relentlessly. I also buy rat poison myself and just tuck it down into the burrows.

      • What do burrows llook like exactly. I have two depressions in my yard that don’t look like active holes (they have grass growing over them).

        • Rat burrows are pretty noticeable – actual holes about the size of a tennis balls with an obvious tunnel. You will see kicked-up dirt at the entrance and usually some debris, bits of paper, wrappers, bones. You will also often see a whole lot of flies and smell a bad odor. And if you look out the window at night – around 10-11 you will see them having disco parties. I’ve heard they don’t like to venture more than 150 feet from their burrow to eat.

      • You’d have to kill more than 90% of them for it to be effective.

    • Again — you sound like somebody who stands to make a buck from selling pesticides and poison.

      Believe it or not, there are people out there who think spreading deadly chemicals with abandon might not be the best idea in the world. Many of those people aren’t occupying anything, nor are they willing to hand the city over to the rat population. We’re just looking for a little common sense.

  • So what are the ‘first resorts’ aside from pesticides that you use to treat bedbugs? What measures would someone have to take in order to be allowed to use a chemical to treat an infestation? Heat, maybe, but from what I read heat treatment is a lot more expensive than chemicals (but maybe more effective).

  • Any chance that this law could only be in effect and enforced in Ward 3? They don’t seem to have a serious pest problem there like the rest of us do.

Comments are closed.