HOW DO YOU S(P)ELL IPM PEST CONTROL?
One of the first articles comparing my thoughts on true IPM to traditional pest control was in the May/June 1992 Issue of E Magazine where the writer of that article noted: Exterminators, who prefer to be called pest control operators (PCOs), have traditionally hidden the truth about pesticide dangers from their employees and customers. Too often, such ignorance has bred disaster. In 1990, Terminix International lost a $6 million lawsuit after one of their technicians failed to rinse out his sprayer between jobs and accidentally filled a home with termiticide fumes. A jury found that Janice Ward, the homeowner, was "permanently and totally disabled" by the pesticide exposure. The article also noted that nobody likes sharing their home with bugs. When cockroaches skitter across pantry shelves, or termites gnaw their wooden beams, people are easy prey to anyone offering to blast the little invaders into oblivion. But that attitude can be more dangerous than the bugs. People have suffered immune disorders, nerve damage and increased cancer risks from"splash jobs" (industry slang for spraying chemicals carelessly). Some homes contaminated with pesticides have had to be destroyed. Yet many PCOs cling to their faith in better profits through chemistry and "preventive treatments.".
In that article I was quoted saying we should not let termites eat houses up, or let the bugs take over but we should use the least amount of poison necessary. We shouldn't be spraying once a month just to be sure. That's just a chance to make money. The first thing I ask a new customer is if any pregnant women, elderly people or infants live in the home, and if anyone has asthma or other breathing problems. Often asking those question costs me the job, because my competitors don't and the customer assumes the chemicals I use are more dangerous.
I noted that I studied my customers' problems individually, recommending options like replacing damaged wood and removing moisture sources that draw termites. We may also spot treat with pesticides. I estimated such simple changes could eliminate over 90 percent of the pesticides routinely sprayed inside homes and businesses each year.
I noted then (as I still do) the only losers in IPM--and hence it's chief foes--are the pesticide makers, who continue to produce millions of gallons of pesticides to be applied yearly in American dwellings and offices. Termiticides alone account for about $500 million in annual sales. The industry's press often features articles calling on PCOs to use IPM strategies. But these magazines are filled with ads from chemical companies hyping pesticides. And despite efforts to improve PCO training, the days of poorly trained "spray jockeys" are far from over. The expert staff necessary for an IPM approach command higher salaries, but savings in pesticide costs eventually mean higher profits for those PCOs who make the change. I said then that I believe (as I still do) the industry can be changed. But it's going to take an intense effort by environmentalists, politicians and PCOs. When IPM works, it is because PCOs and their customers are partners seeking the best strategy to solve each household's bug problem.
"Where are we today?" -- First, we must ask, what is a "pest"?
San Jose scale is not considered a pest in it's natural habitat in the Pacific Islands, but once it arrived in California it almost destroyed the citrus plants there, because its natural predator, the black ladybird beetle was not in California to keep this pest in check. Usually insect populations are all controlled naturally. Find the disease or predator that naturally controls the pest species and you keep them from disturbing the ecological balance. Spraying volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons quickly creates resistance, kills the beneficial organisms and destroys the ecosystem and increases the pest problem. But, this is very often what PCO's and growers are so carefully taught to do. In continually spraying those poisons we normally create a worse situation than the "pest" does. In a recent E-mail to us a large university noted that white flies, aphids and thrips are several plant pests against which they test chemicals for pest suppression. Sometimes (pest) parasites or (pest) parasitic fungi become so abundant that the university is in danger of losing their pest colonies. They spray their aphids, white flies and thrips with conventional petrochemical pesticides (organophosphates, pyrethroids and fungicides) to suppress the parasites and diseases of the pest insects. They spray volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons, because the pests are more resistant to these chemicals than their parasites, and the university is able to save their colonies. This is just one more proof that we would have better pest control if we simply stopped spraying any pest "control" chemicals.
What does IPM mean? To answer this question one must first know where to begin. Obviously, the acronym "IPM" means many different things to many different people. For me it has meant my being able to continue in pest control. After 30 years of applying volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons I became chemically sensitive and unable to tolerate traditional pesticides. While I know the poison producers and "traditional" pest control advocates would like to pretend this condition is mental rather than physical, I have lived through this condition and know it truly is physical. As I can no longer use volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons and still want to be in pest control, IPM to me means never to use any volatile, synthetic pesticides; to others it simply means business as usual and to "include pesticides monthly" - in their "traditional (IPM) pest control" programs. Last year, for the third year in a row, worldwide pesticide sales expanded with a 3.6% increase over 1995 to approximately U. S. $31 billion. According to the British Agrochemical Association (BAA) the distribution of pesticide sales around the world in 1996 was North America 31%, Western Europe 26%, East Asia 23%, South America 12% and all others 9%. Yet our pest problems are increasing in numbers and damage. It should be obvious that "traditional poison controls" are not about pest control or safety, but only about increasing the sale of pesticides.
For example, in November, 1997, I was asked by some concerned Maryland parents to identify 3 (new) volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons that were in a large list of "approved poisons" currently being used in the only "IPM" district in Maryland. One label notes:
"WARNING: Contains 1,1,1-trichloroethane a substance which harms public health and the environment by destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere. The MSDS notes, "HEALTH HAZARDS (ACUTE AND CHRONIC): Laboratory studies have shown that petroleum distillates, similar to the one in this product, can produce kidney effects in male rats. The significance of those effects are unlikely, due to a number of human studies, which produced no evidence of such effects at normal occupational levels. Also, chronic overexposures to 1,1,1 Trichloroethane have caused liver toxic effects in experimental animals. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EXPOSURE: Dermatitis, skin disorders, nausea, throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and other nervous system effects. MEDICAL CONDITIONS GENERALLY AGGRAVATED BY EXPOSURE: Acute and chronic liver disease and rhythm disorders of the heart. Skin contact may aggravate an existing dermatitis."
Another Residual Insecticide label and MSDS read:
"CAUTION: Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin....WARNING: Contains 1,1,1,-trichloroethane a substance which harms public health and the environment by destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere...CHRONIC EXPOSURES TO 1,1,1 Trichloroethane have caused liver toxic effects in experimental animals. Exposures to high concentrations of chlorodiflouromethane may result in cardiovascular system effects. Light exposure may cause transient burning and/or tingling sensations and dermatitis. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EXPOSURE: Dermatitis, skin disorders, nausea, throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and other nervous system effects. Central nervous system effects. Burning sensation on more sensitive areas (face/eyes/mouth), fatigue. MEDICAL CONDITIONS GENERALLY AGGRAVATED BY EXPOSURE: Acute and chronic liver disease and rhythm disorders of the heart. Skin contact may aggravate an existing dermatitis. Also, individuals with pre-existing diseases of the central nervous system or cardiovascular system may have increased susceptibility to the toxicity of excessive exposures."
The third label notes:
"CAUTION - Harmful if inhaled. Avoid breathing vapor or spray mist. Its MSDS notes, "A white, odorless liquid that: is harmful if inhaled; may result in transient tingling and reddening of the skin upon contact; is extremely toxic to fresh water and estuarine fish and invertebrates. INHALATION - Harmful if inhaled. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS - Acute overexposure may result in respiratory irritation and transient paresthesia. Chronic overexposure produced pale kidneys and discoloration of the lungs in rats."
Note: No one knows what the synergistic effect is on people, pets or the environment when any of these poisons is used in combination -- sometimes there is a 3,000 fold increase in danger!
How would you like to explain to some parent of a sick or dying child why you chose to use any poison(s) with such severe warnings? Especially when there are so many safe alternatives. Do you actually know the medical condition of all the people in the buildings or the synergistic effect of all the possible combinations of the toxins and/ or medications? On Sunday, 11/9/97, the Daily Bulletin noted that exposure to pesticide at Southridge Middle School in California may have killed Chrissy Garavito, who had a heart condition that was not diagnosed until after her death. On September 11, 1984 the NPCA sent out a legal opinion that we had a "Duty to Warn" our customers that chlordane might cause cancer; when I warned my customers, no one wanted the cancer-causing chemical, chlordane, used to "protect" their home from termite attack! Do you still warn all of your customers of all of the possible health effects of all of the poisons you use? If you did, do you really believe they still would allow you to "treat" their property with these toxins and allow their children to enter your buildings?
Perhaps some of you remember when Velsicol and all their "scientists" kept saying chlordane was the most tested, safest chemical around; even as their poison label became more and more restrictive and above ground usage was deleted.Even as the warnings increased, applicators of this cancer causing chemical (that always permanently contaminated the buildings where it was used) were advised to tell their clients that only one strain of cancer prone mice got cancer from exposure to chlordane and to call all of the resulting "normal" contamination "residue". Even after Velsicol was indicted PCOs defended this dangerous chemical and continued to use the poison. Only after the poison was "voluntarily withdrawn" did its use "legally cease". When the lawsuits started, Velsicol lawyers often got Velsicol released after paying the victim a few thousand dollars and Velsicol then blamed their loyal applicators for the resulting chlordane contamination. Velsicol claimed the contamination/"residue" was only there because of applicator "misuse". Remember, a residual pesticide is simply one that continues to contaminate/"work" for a period of time.
If you are still reading, I can begin to explain what I believe to be real or true IPM. First of all, we have controlled or eliminated all of the pests inside and outside in over 350 schools, all without ever using any volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons. We have achieved far better control with my alternative pestisafes than we ever did with all of the synthetic pesticide poisons, including the chlorinated hydrocarbons, carbamates, organophosphates, synthetic pyrethroids, growth regulators, etc. Please understand we are more for pest control than we are against pesticides, but we have consequently proven that our safer alternatives are more effective than registered pesticides. Even if I could be "healed", and volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons were safe when used as directed, there is simply is no way I would ever again apply these toxins simply because they do not truly control, much less eliminate, pest problems. In addition, they actually make the pest problem worse and create many health and environmental and
contamination problems. Who will pay for this? -- the applicator not the manufacturer.
ORGANOPHOSPHATES - EPA estimates the misuse of the organophosphate methyl parathion in Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana and Tennessee will cost U. S. taxpayers at least $100 million to restore the interiors of (only the known) organophosphate contaminated homes. In Mississippi hundreds of homeowners are living in temporary housing. Nationwide there have been at least 17 people arrested. The charges range from operating without a pesticide license to misuse. This dangerous organophosphate has been knowingly applied in homes, trailers, churches and even day care centers. Paul Walls, an exterminator in Mississippi, was sentenced to 6 years in prison for his role in misapplying methyl parathion to the interior of his customers' homes. Lutellis Kilgore of Elyria, Ohio recently pled guilty to violating FIFRA by applying methyl parathion to over 60 homes in Ohio and was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
Dow Elanco's Fall Newsletter to pest control professionals noted they voluntarily assembled a blue ribbon panel of world-renowned scientists to review studies and reports on their own organophosphate, chlorpyrifos, related to human health and found, "Based on a review of existing research relating to chlorpyrifos, a majority of scientists on this panel concluded that there is insufficient evidence of harm to human health to warrant further investigation." [UPDATE: 6/2000 - Dursban is banned as to dangerous]
Is science that exact? The Union of Concerned Scientists at www.ucsusa.org noted: Farmers in the Mississippi Delta had some serious and unexpected problems with Monsanto's new Roundup Ready cotton last Summer. In early August, some of the growers of the genetically engineered cotton began finding deformed bolls and bolls that dropped off the plants. By Fall, nearly 30,000 acres in Mississippi alone were affected. Some growers face losses of $500,000 to $1 million! Obviously the cotton boll defect problem appears to contradict claims that gene splicing is a precise technology which allows scientists to reliably predict risks based on current knowledge (existing research). But once again some applicators will now have to pay for someone else's "science"/mistakes.
The Gulf War syndrome has now claimed about 80,000 of the 700,000 veterans who were exposed to oil well spills and fires, exhausts fumes and smoke from military operations, depleted uranium, lead, a number of government applied pesticides, including chlorpyrifos (Dursban). The insect repellent DEET and the anti-nerve gas agent pyridostigmine bromide (PB) which the troops took orally to "protect" them from "enemy" chemical attacks.
TOXIC BREW: NIOSH estimates there are 4 million chemical mixtures in commercial use that have never been tested for their reproductive effects. The March of Dimes estimates that 200,000 children are born each year with birth defects as a result of parental chemical exposures. An estimated 560,000 infant deaths, spontaneous abortions and still births occur each year from parental chemical exposures per "Disorders of Reproduction" MMVR 8/6/85 34(35). NIOSH also notes that there are over 1,000 chemicals in the workplace that have been shown to have adverse reproductive effects in animals, yet they have not been studied in humans. Perhaps another blue ribbon panel of scientists was "voluntarily" assembled and here too decided there is no need for further study. But no one is or can be even remotely aware of what is the synergistic effect of all these toxins in every possible situation!
What is True IPM?Many so called "environmentalists" tend to be simply against pesticides, but give no real controls or alternatives to replace their use. They seem to feel we should learn to live with our "pests' in order to avoid being poisoned. We here at Get Set, Inc. believe we should safely control/eliminate our pests. We have developed and tested thousands of alternative controls that are less expensive, safer and more effective than volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons. If I asked you to build a home with only one tool, you would think the request absurd, but that is what "traditional" pest control has become; "they" only use one tool - poison. Poisons that do not work but simply ensure pests will develop resistance and guarantee poison applicators continual "business", with ever increasing frequencies of poison applications or variations of the poison, but will never result in true pest control. In actual practice, our true IPM controls mean we do nothing but basically monitor 98% of our buildings every month, yet we are paid far more than "traditional" pest control. How do we do it? Let me first discuss one "major" pest, ants; I would like to note that we have observed many schools that have been "treated traditionally" with various volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons for 13 - 17 years on a weekly or monthly basis, without ever eliminating the ants, because they still were only using one "tool" - poison. We have often got instant control by simply dusting lightly with baby powder containing talc.We have also used many different "tools" or controls or pestisafes, e.g., sanitation, mechanical alteration, habitat reduction, purple plates, chalk, baking soda and powdered sugar, Tide® soap, instant grits, freshly ground pepper, vinegar, perfume, foam insulation in a can, syrup bottles with 1" of syrup, orange juice, soapy water, bone meal, powdered charcoal, our enzyme cleaners, medicated body powder, etc., and have consistently found that ants simply are not a problem in our schools, accounts or groves.
Cockroaches are real survivors -- fossils of cockroaches over 350 million years old are physically the same as today's cockroaches, clearly showing their innate tenacity and ability to survive intact. But, we have safely controlled and even eliminated cockroaches from many buildings simply by using several safe alternatives including: pheromone traps, talcum powder, powdered sugar and baking soda, caulk, vacuums with red lights at night, our enzyme cleaners, tennis balls, fans, etc.
True IPM to me means to try any method, material, technique, device or control available before resorting even to the safer, nonvolatile pesticides, e.g., boric acid. Often when one safe alternative will not work, the synergistic effect of another safe second will totally eliminate a pest problem, virtually on a permanent basis.
We have controlled rats in buildings by first making them rodent-proof, then controlling the food supply, and then removing any remaining occupants with either snap traps, Agrizap's "electric chairs", glue boards, prepared sawdust baits, beer, Pepsi ®, etc.We have controlled rats in exterior burrows (where conditions would permit) with a lit charcoal briquette; the carbon monoxide is heavier than air and kills them quickly. Capturing smart rats especially inside requires more effort and skill than catching naive rats. After you rodent-proof your buildings, you must then eliminate all food sources inside and outside, forcing the rat to look to your bait as its only food source. You could then try installing an alternative rat trap we have developed, a 55-gallon drum 2/3's full of water, which is then covered with 2 buckets of oats (or fruit), which float on top of the water giving the appearance of a container only filled with the rat's favorite food, with a board or a plank leading to the rim. Rats will literally fight each other for the honor of being the first to dive in and drown. To the rats, our Walk The Plank ® appears totally harmless, even when there are rats inside swimming. If this alternative trap fails, you can try prebaiting the more traditional rat snap traps and/or large glue boards with small pieces of an appropriate (fresh) bait, e.g., sausage or nuts, or any other bait mentioned in The Best Control, placed carefully by your unset snap traps or unopened glue boards. After feeding begins, tie a piece of the bait on the set snap trap or place some in the middle of two secured glue boards. If you want to camouflage your snap traps, cover them with sawdust and prebait with tiny pieces of fresh food leading to some food (on the sawdust) directly above the trigger of the unset trap. Once the prebaited food is eaten, tie one piece of bait/food to the trap trigger and set the trap. If you want to try using large glue boards as blunder traps, install them along rat runways, but keep them unopened or covered initially with plastic wrap; once you are ure the rat is traveling over the glue boards, open them up or uncover them. Be sure to secure the glue traps to the surface in some manner. (Even if you have to glue them to a piece of wood or large cardboard.) You can try Agrizap's Rat Zapper, the electric chair for rats, the more it is used--the better it works. As a last resort, install a sharpshooter at night or bait with chocolate Ex-Lax®. They literally will defecate themselves to death.
Termites -- for many years I was a "traditional" applicator of pesticides, but even back then I noted that (in my area), 98% of all subterranean termite infestations occurred under the porch/steps but, 98% of the poison was supposed to be applied elsewhere -- because this simply was not logical or safe we simply spot treated the porches and got control. I clearly said then, as I still say now, if I have to error, I will error on the side of safety, not on the side of control. I note with pride now that I was the only PCO ever indicted for not using enough of the cancer causing chemical, chlordane. Today there are still many state "regulators" who still insist that you must apply the maximum amount of poison the label allows or you have done "your treatment" wrong, even if you have achieved control! This attitude is totally illogical and makes any termiticide application you make, a misapplication, for the EPA legally requires that you can not legally apply any more poison than the label allows --- no one can apply poison that perfectly and the poison manufacturers and "regulators" are not going to pay your legal fees! Remember the NPCA Approved Reference Procedures for subterranean termite control? -- Do you also remember the NPCA September 5, 1986 Statement of Disclaimer that specifically said that "NO CLAIM OR WARRANTY WHATEVER IS MADE OR IMPLIED THAT THE RECOMMENDATIONS, METHODS OR PROCEDURES CONTAINED IN THIS PUBLICATION ENSURE SAFETY OR PREVENT INJURY OR PROPERTY DAMAGE." We remember -- that is why today we refuse to apply any amount of any volatile, synthetic termiticide poison and we have instead consistently controlled termite infestations using only a spoonful of sodium borate, or 250 mg of Flagyl ® and many other safer alternatives including simple mechanical alterations.
We have developed and have used thousands of tools or pestisafes that work that are not registered pesticides, but that quickly control and/or eliminate all pests. We believe the only reason for registering pesticides is because they are toxic/poisons that can not only hurt or kill the pest, but you, your customers, their kids and pets, and the environment. "Our" pestisafes are all basically naturally occurring materials that contain only GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) components. They are site specific, do not drift, do not contaminate, do not cause resistance, and, more importantly, they work better than volatile, synthetic pesticides ever did. That is why we have been attacked by the poison industry so vigorously and have been told "the only 'legal' way to control pests is by applying their registered, volatile, synthetic pesticide poisons." We, however, will continue to control pests safely!
If you are still reading, I congratulate you for, obviously, you, too, are interested in how best to control (or better yet, eliminate) your pest populations without the potential of harming people, pets and/or the environment. That is why I wrote The Best Control and constantly revise it to help you do your pest control better. People will continue to pay you or someone else to remove their pests no matter how you or they choose to do so, but for us here at Get Set (and, hopefully, you) we do not need even the possibility of causing any sickness or death or creating any resistance or any toxic pollution, litigation or contamination. Hopefully you will also agree that to control or eliminate pests will always be better than "treating" them with dangerous poisons to which they quickly become resistant. For example, there are 15 generations of houseflies born each year. A few house flies that develop resistance to chemical pesticides can quickly create thousands of resistant house flies in any given area that no volatile, synthetic pesticide will ever control..
If you as an applicator of poison are still doubtful that you and you alone are responsible for "everything" that can possibly go wrong doing your pest control work, let me quote from a January, 1991 termiticide label, which states under Inherent Risks of Use, "It is impossible to eliminate all risks associated with use of this product....All such risks shall be assumed by Buyer." If that does not make your situation clear enough for you, it clearly states under Limitation of Remedies you will find your "exclusive remedy" for losses or damages resulting from using this product shall be limited to, at manufacturer's election, one of the following: (1) Refund of purchase price or (2) replacement of amount of product used. When we read this, we as a corporation, stopped using any volatile, synthetic pesticides!
If you also would like to limit your potential losses and get better/safer control, you can review at no charge a copy of my Human Lice chapter from The Best Control or you can find us on the web at www.getipm.com. We will be happy to share with you how to really s(p)ell IPM!
Thanks for reading,
Stephen L. Tvedten.