From geese to insects and all vermin in between, pest control is a critical concern for most facilities.
Pests thrive where there are food sources and suitable hiding places.
Therefore, pests can be found everywhere — inside and outside buildings.
And, more and more, it is the facility maintenance staff’s responsibility to prepare and execute a pest control plan.
However, even though many of today’s products are safer to use, experts say attention to detail and special care are still required.
Included in this article are some common practices and pest habits to consider when implementing a pest control plan at your facility(ies).
Keep it clean
Outside of the facility, landscapers can regularly groom the grounds and eliminate food sources for such pests as insects, geese, birds, etc.
Experts say that detailed, strategic cleaning can deter most pests.
Cleaners can eliminate food sources inside the facility by making sure areas are kept dry and free of food.
Cleaners can also check shaded areas which provide ideal environments for insects to flourish.
Garbage receptacles should be frequently attended to and trash should be disposed of throughout the day.
Outside disposal areas should also be regularly checked for infestation.
This often-overlooked area can lead to serious problems inside and outside of the facility.
Keep it green
Traditionally, the general health of the end user as well as the public is at risk when pesticides and similar products are applied in a building or on grounds.
Today, many facilities have shifted to using “green pesticides,” but not at the expense of effectiveness.
There are several alternatives on the market to meet your needs for pest control with minimal impact on the environment.
“Current active ingredients are safer than ingredients used in the past,” notes Reid Ipser, Ph.D, director of research and development for Waterbury Companies Inc. “Most are pyrethrins from the chrysanthemum flowers and its derivatives — synthetic pyrethoids. In addition, recent advanced chemistries include nicotine derivatives and other compounds that are significantly more insect receptor site-specific. This receptor site specification reduces potential risk to mammals.”
According to Ipser, the risk and effect on human health and environment are two separate issues, but not necessarily mutually exclusive.
“Environmental effects could include accumulation of compounds in soil, water runoff of compounds into water sources, and the possible consequences of such — with particular reference to fish, birds, and other invertebrates,” says Ipser. However, the half life of current compounds is much shorter as compared to compounds, such as DDT, that were used years ago and now discontinued in the U.S.”
According to Harlan Feese, Ph.D., who is technical director at EcoSMART Technologies Inc., today’s pest control products are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and legislation such as the Food Quality Protection Act.
“More and more products are being formulated to use in smaller quantities and target specific pests, i.e., pheromones and insect growth regulators,” says Feese, who adds current products are “generally” lower in mammalian toxicity than older conventional products, such as the chlorinated hydrocarbons and organophosphates.
“Current products tend to have reduced residual properties so they ‘hang around’ less and have minimum impact on the environment,” adds Feese.
Similar to the green movement in the cleaning industry, today’s green pest control options are customer-driven.
“Today’s products appear to be impacted more and more by the consumer who is demanding greener products,” says Feese. “Right or wrong, surveys suggest that many consumers have a fear of pesticides, mainly as cancer-causing agents, and therefore want no exposure or proof that the products being used have a responsible and environmentally sound track record.”
Experts say that safety precautions should still be taken regardless of the product or the worker.
Workers are encouraged to wear personal protection equipment (PPE).
“PPE should include the following: Pants, waterproof or water-resistant boots made of leather, long-sleeve shirts, eyewear, gloves, and an aspirator,” says Ipser. “Users should wash hands thoroughly after each application, and keep handy several clean towels, an extra pair of clothes, and a first aid kit.”
And, say experts, carefully read the product’s label instructions.
“The key step is to read, understand, and follow the label,” says Feese. “The label provides all the appropriate protective instructions relevant to the toxicity of the product.”
Training is also important.
“A good training program and a fair measure of common sense will contribute significantly to a quality pest control program,” Feese says.
In addition to being exposed to harmful product toxins, the cleaning and maintenance staff — as well as building occupants — can also be in danger when exposed to actual pests.
For example, cockroaches, which are common pests in facilities, are known to produce allergies caused from excrement and cast skins, as well as salmonella, staphylococcus and hookworms.
Even common flies can cause several health hazards, such as diarrhea and tapeworms.
More often today than ever before, pest control is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the cleaning and maintenance department.
When cleaning, pay close attention to detail and preventively eliminate what pests need for survival.