For reasons still unknown, bedbugs really seem to like the state of Ohio. The problem is so dire in Cincinnati that some people with infested apartments have resorted to sleeping on the streets.
Cincinnati created a Bedbug Remediation Commission in 2007 and, like other local and national governments around the world, the city is trying to mobilize strategies to control infestations of the resilient insects, which can hide in almost any crack or crevice and can go a year or more without eating. On Aug. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a consumer alert about off-label bedbug treatments, warning in particular of the dangers of using outdoor pesticides in homes. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has mounted a more unusual response to the crisis: it petitioned the EPA for an exemption to allow in-home use of propoxur, a pesticide and neurotoxin banned in the 1990s out of concern for its effects on children. (See the top 10 weird insect mating rituals.)
Although EPA rejected Ohio's propoxur plea in June, the agency met last week with state and municipal leaders to try to formulate an abatement strategy everyone can live with. Among the meeting's participants: representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, no joke, the Department of Defense.
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