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Pests and Pesticides in the City: Washington, DC Survey

Goldsmith, David F; Davidson, Pamela; Paulson, Jerome

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362742.33606.09
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts

George Washington University, Washington, DC, United States.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the organizations of Epidemiology. Affliate Societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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Background and Objective:

Pesticide studies tend to focus on agricultural workers and farms, but there is little known about city dwellers. Current urban integrated pest management (IPM) programs are severely hampered by not knowing what pests and pest control products low income are dealing with. Our study in Washington, DC is the largest examination of urban pests and pesticide uses.

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After IRB approval, we surveyed 654 Washington, DC residents (> 18 years with valid identification) during summer 2008 seeking to understand what sorts of pests and pesticide products were used. Almost all respondents were interviewed at the city’s libraries with a questionnaire that was either self-administered or led by trained interviewers.

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Residents reported many pests as problems in their residences, specifically ants, cockroaches, bedbugs, mice and rats, and many stated their dwellings were most commonly infested with mice/rats and cockroaches. Of those, the biggest problems appeared to be with mice and cockroaches. Residents favor using a variety of pest control approaches: spraying and applying poison for pests; having their landlords apply pesticides, as well as fixing screens to control pests. From these findings, it appears that D.C. consumers prefer pest control products that are safe for the environment, for pets, and for children, they need to be reasonably priced, and they need to be long-lasting.

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Our findings suggest there is a strong need for community-based education programs that focus on preventing pests from entering residences as well as education related to safe uses. Specific information about stockpiles of products in the home is also necessary, particulary for households with children <6 years of age. Education is needed on the safe use, storage, and disposal of pesticides. Currently, this makes sustaining IPM programs very uncertain if their only target is to use products with low toxicity, without knowing the types of pests are common among city residents.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.