NCHH’s Tom Neltner Quoted in Washington Post Bed Bugs Article
Media Contact: Phillip Dodge
Columbia, MD (April 15, 2009) — Tom Neltner, a respected expert on household pests from the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), is quoted in a new article appearing today in The Washington Post. Mr. Neltner recently helped to found the National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network.
Read “Going to the Mattress,” reprinted from The Washington Post (April 15, 2009; page A02) below.
Going to the Mattress
by Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
The enemy is stealthy and bloodthirsty. It attacks innocent victims without warning, while they sleep.
Fortunately, the federal government is on the case. In a hotel ballroom in Crystal City yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency convened the first-ever National Bed Bug Summit—a veritable Yalta Conference for the species Cimex lectularius. With help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and even the Pentagon, the EPA assembled scientists, state and local officials, and a colony of exterminators to buzz about such topics as “Bed Bug Perspectives,” “Bed Bug Basics” and “Government Responses to Bed Bugs.”
“These insects can have a life-altering impact,” warned panelist Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest Solutions.
“They are showing up in some of the finest hotels,” contributed Saul Hernandez, an aide to the congressman who introduced H.R. 6068, “The Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2008.”
All this for an insect the size of an apple seed that has a painless bite and is not known to spread disease?
University of Kentucky entomologist Mike Potter called the bed bug nothing less than “the most difficult, challenging pest problem of our generation.” Tossing out phrases such as “doomsday scenario” and “perfect storm,” he ventured: “In my opinion, we are not going to get out of this thing”—the bed bug thing—until we “allow the pest-control industry to go to war.”
Bed bugs had been all but eradicated decades ago, panelist Potter explained, but thanks to increased travel, pesticide bans and resistance, we’ve “let bed bugs get back in the game.”
Now, said Hernandez, the congressional staffer, “bed bugs invade luggage, burrowing deep into clothes, and are transported back home, where they infest their victims’ homes . . . and the affected people have no choice but to trash their furniture, clothes and linen.”
Audience members were squirming and scratching by the time Cooper told them of where he’s found bed bug infestations: “behind picture frames or other wall hangings, or inside the bindings of books or on stuffed animals. Or how about an entire reproducing population with over 30 eggs inside the head of an adjustable wrench?” On the projection screen, the bugs in his presentation looked to be about three feet long.
Well, consider the “mental health aspects” of the bed bug. “When you’ve got bed bugs, your bed is not your comfort,” explained Tom Neltner of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “It can have a tremendous impact on the mental health of people.”
Potter, who boasted that he’s spent “the last three years of my life digging deep into the history of bed bug management,” offered a challenge: “I’d like to take anybody who thinks bed bugs is not a big deal, and we’ll sprinkle a few in their house and see what they think.”
The rest of us can sleep tight, knowing our government is doing all it can not to let the bed bugs bite.