[On the Road] Changing Technology Has Regulators Focused

Features - Industry Events

ASPCRO’s annual meeting featured discussions on bed bugs, training, rodenticides and more.

November 21, 2011
Jeff Fenner

At the recent 55th Annual Meeting of the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials

(ASPCRO), "change" was the operative word. From regulator and applicator training to nanotechnology, ASPCRO members discussed the steps their organization will take to adapt to a changing pest management industry and prepare itself for the future. The event was held at the Point Clear Grand Hotel, Mobile, Ala., Aug. 28-31.

While topics such as new product technology, the bed bug pandemic and recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actions sparked conversation and debate among the nearly 160 attendees, it was clear some solutions to embracing these new issues are rooted in time-tested areas such as training and education.

Despite the challenges presented by declining state budgets, the association plans on expanding the scope of its training initiatives and to continue to serve as a valuable resource for not only regulators, but for industry professionals and consumers as well.

"We are moving away from the perception of just being a termite group and working on enhancing our outreach and getting information out there," said Derrick Lastinger, a regulator with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and current ASPCRO president. "Changes in product technology and treatment methods have made training even more important today."

Bed Bugs. Lastinger said one of the association's biggest challenges going forward is how to tackle the bed bug situation. From new technology, efficacy standards and research needs, to a review of federal and state government's response to the pandemic, ASPCRO is actively involved in the process.

The association's bed bug committee has worked closely with EPA and the National Pest Management Association's Bed Bug Task Force on establishing bed bug product testing protocols and updating product labels to help eliminate confusion and product misuse.

ASPCRO Names 2011-12 Executive Board

The Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) has named its 2011-12 Executive Board. The new board was announced at the association's annual meeting in August. The board includes:

  • President — Derrick Lastinger, Georgia Department of Agriculture
  • Vice President — John Scott, Colorado Department of Agriculture
  • Secretary — Liza Fleeson, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Treasurer — Grant Bishop, West Virginia Department of Agriculture
  • Past-President — Bonnie Rabe, New Mexico Department of Agriculture
  • At-Large Members — Jay Kelley, Indiana State Chemists Office; Mike Page, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and John Campbell, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

Lastinger said consumers are more desperate to find solutions to bed bug infestations and instances of product misuse have risen. "This is where we've seen problems with consumers trying to eliminate bed bugs," he said. "Misidentification of the pest and application of the incorrect product is becoming prevalent."

ASPCRO also is working with EPA on building a national clearinghouse of bed bug prevention, control, identification and related information for consumers, an initiative that came out of EPA's National Bed Bug Summit earlier this year.

In addition to its product testing and label language initiatives, ASPCRO plans on adding additional bed bug resources to its website (www.aspcro.org) and establishing a training program for regulators to better understand bed bug identification and control.

"Our list of priorities keeps growing when it comes to bed bugs," said Lastinger. "As new technologies such as heat treatments and canine detection emerge, we want to make sure they are properly and safely delivered to consumers."

Continuing Education. And while ASPCRO always has been involved in training for pest management professionals, the association realizes its members need to enhance their knowledge base to keep pace with the advancements in product technology and application techniques.

To help regulators with their continuing education efforts, ASPCRO scheduled a multi-day session at the state-of-the-art Rollins (parent company of Orkin) Training Facility in Atlanta this fall to help regulators better understand the challenges of managing pests in structural environments.

The course, which is done in conjunction with EPA's Pesticide Inspector Residential Training initiative, places regulators in a variety of residential and commercial pest environments to see first-hand how technicians service accounts. Regulators will walk through examples of residential homes, commercial kitchens and health-care facilities and observe service treatments in action.

George Saxton, a regulator with the Indiana State Chemist's office and chairman of ASPCRO's inspector training committee, told members the program was essential to helping regulators stay current with pest management industry protocols.

"The course presents real-life scenarios that both technicians and regulators encounter, and is certain to help all who participate," said Saxton.

In addition to the pest management training, presentations were scheduled from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on how to track down unlicensed pesticide applicators on the Internet and use forensic investigation methods to spot illegal or substandard pesticide applications.

To further emphasize the need for regulators to stay current in their training efforts, attorney Greg Crosslin of Crosslin & Associates, who specializes in litigation and risk management for pest control professionals, offered tips on how to build the education "block" on regulators' resumes. Building this block is important, according to Crosslin, since regulators are frequently called into court as expert witnesses or are deposed in lawsuits.

"Training is the best tool to demonstrate knowledge," said Crosslin. "Get out in the field, stay current and know what a pest management professional knows on how do to get the job done right."

Jim Wright Named to ASPRCO Hall of Fame

Long-time South Carolina regulator Jim Wright was inducted into the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) Hall of Fame at the association's recent annual meeting in Mobile, Ala.

Wright, a 1978 Clemson University graduate, started as an inspector with the Department of Pesticide Regulation in 1981 and has made numerous contributions to the advancement and development of training and enforcement protocols, as well as new technology development, for the structural pest management industry. One of Wright's passions is education and his diligent work led to the construction of a termite training facility in South Carolina where hundreds of technicians have gone annually for training on the latest application and control techniques.

Wright also made significant contributions to ASPCRO, serving on numerous committees and work groups, and on the association's board in 1989 as secretary/treasurer, and culminating with his term as president in 1994-95. He has been a tireless champion of the association's efforts to raise enforcement standards and build strong partnerships with pest management professionals and pesticide manufacturers.

A man known for his outgoing personality, Wright was surprised by the honor and was clearly moved when he came to the podium to accept the award. He said he was honored to be associated with the finest pesticide regulator group in the country, and looked forward to continue contributing to the pest management industry.

"I really can't begin to describe how meaningful being inducted into the Hall of Fame for ASPCRO is to me," said Wright. "This association is very dear to me and I have been fortunate to have worked with some of the finest government and industry officials in the country who taught me the true meaning of fairness. I am very humbled."

He encouraged regulators to consider becoming certified pesticide applicators, if they were not already, since it will help them better understand how pest control professionals manage and eliminate pests in customers' homes and businesses. He encouraged them to be a bridge to the truth, support the work the pest management industry does and crack down on those who violate the consumer's trust.

Rodenticides. The meeting also included a lively panel discussion on EPA's decision to ban the sale of rodent control products to consumers and the resulting impact on the structural pest management industry. Panelists included a collection of industry stakeholders with representatives from EPA, ASPCRO, the rodenticide manufacturing community and PMPs.

The basis of EPA's action was to protect consumers, especially children, from unnecessary exposure to rodenticide products. In 2008, the agency issued a directive to manufacturers to amend product registrations by June 4, 2011.

The EPA mandate included requirements that all bait be sold in tamper-resistant bait stations; mandatory bait station use for outdoor, above-ground applications; banning the sale of loose pellet and meal bait formulas to consumers; and discontinuing the sale of second-generation anticoagulants in consumer-use products.

While the pest management industry endorsed EPA's 2008 decision to remove second-generation products from consumers' hands and requiring the sale of consumer products in tamper-resistant bait stations, it does have concerns over the implementation of the decision as it relates to PMPs.

"There is not a product issue that impacts PMPs more than rodenticides," said Bob Rosenberg, vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association. "Virtually every company in the industry performs important rodent work for consumers."

What has the industry concerned is the ruling's ban on using products more than 50 feet from a building, new label language prohibiting the targeting of non-commensal rodents such as deer mice and pack rats, and the fact some professional use rodenticides' product labels are more restrictive than those sold over the counter to consumers.

Industry technical experts say the 50-foot requirement is too short and handcuffs PMPs from properly servicing large accounts, such as commercial food warehouses, since rodent activity cannot be limited exclusively to that area.

"Fifty feet is not enough to provide an effective control program in many cases," said panelist Steve Levy, president of Bell Laboratories, a manufacturer of rodenticide bait products that has worked with EPA on the new labeling requirements and safer product development.

Rick Keigwin, EPA's director of pesticide re-evaluation division, said the agency's position when it established the 50-foot number was to limit ecological exposures to rodenticides. He did say changing market conditions and access to better information has led the agency to reconsider the distance requirement on the label.

"We are thinking through what-if scenarios and is there a better way to do this," said Keigwin.

Regulators Doug Edwards of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Jack Peterson of the Arizona Department of Agriculture said the ruling has caused some confusion for PMPs and regulators. Both said a clear definition is needed of what a building is or isn't, as well as a steady dose of good, common-sense judgment.

The label language prohibiting targeting of non-commensal rodents also has caused concern with industry professionals. Species such as pack rats, field mice and deer mice, a known vector of Hantavirus, are commonly encountered by pest management professionals and not being able to use rodenticide products can put consumers at risk.

"At the end of the day the industry's goal is to work with EPA to provide flexible label language to allow PMPs to use rodenticide products where and when they are needed," said Rosenberg.

ASPCRO's Lastinger echoed Rosenberg's thoughts and said he feels EPA will work with various stakeholders to come up with revisions that will give the industry flexibility while at the same time establishing clear and enforceable regulations.


The author is partner of B Communications, www.b-communications.com, a communications/marketing firm specializing in the needs of PMPs. E-mail him at jfenner@giemedia.com.