Detroit, Mich. – Greens can take a bow: Bedbugs are back with a vengeance.
Responding to the biggest bedbug outbreak since World War II, the Environmental Protection Agency hosted its first-ever “bedbug summit” Tuesday outside Washington to address a widening public outcry. Some of the most vulnerable communities are inner cities like Detroit, and the major culprit, as it turns out, was the summit host.
Nine years ago, the zealots at Bill Clinton’s EPA banned the pesticide chlorpyrifos (to widespread media and environmentalist hosannas), the most commonly available household product in the world to address bedbugs, cockroaches, and other nuisances. Better known by its trade name, Dursban, chlorpyrifos had been available for 30 years in some 800 products in 88 countries around the world.
But despite widespread protest in the scientific community, EPA Chief Carol Browner erased Dursban from the shelves. “EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations . . . and exaggerated risk estimates,” said Michigan State University toxicologist J. I. Goodman in a typical response.
Even Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Browner cited, told the Detroit News he disputed the agency’s interpretation of his findings.
Such critics were also ignored by the press — as was evidence that the nation’s urban poor would be most vulnerable to a ban. Children insect-bite allergies and cockroach-induced allergens outnumber pesticide poisoning by 100:1. “Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a weekly house call from the Orkin man,” warned News writer Diane Katz, now with the Fraser Institute. “Yet that is precisely what the EPA is recommending as a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray.”
Nine years on, Greg Baumann — Senior Scientist at the National Test Management Association — confirms that the Dursban void has been largely unfilled, leaving millions to fight pests with less convenient preventative measures. Extermination, for example, costs between $400 and $900 — out of reach for low-income Detroit families.
And those accountable for this predictable disaster? The very media outlets who were cheerleading the EPA ban now feign ignorance. “Out of concern for the environment and the effects on public health, the EPA has banned many of the chemicals that were most effective in eradicating the bugs in the U.S.,” shrugs the AP in graph ten of its story.
And the EPA Administrator who approved the ban? Browner has been promoted to “climate czar” in the Obama administration.