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Agency urges 'green' death for roaches - Globe and Mail

Jennifer Lewington
September 14, 1999
Globe and Mail

There's a green way  to  get rid of those pesky cockroaches for good without using sprays.

The recommendation came yes­terday from the Toronto Public Health department, which said a three-prong attack of prevention, education  and non-spray alterna­tives  can  be more effective than pesticides in killing off the roach once and for all.

Monica Campbell, of the department's­ health promotion and envi­ronmental protection unit,  said the payoff for going green is two­ fold: fewer cockroaches and fewer potential health risks.

Toronto Public Health and a growing number of people in the scientific community and the pub­lic are getting more and more con­cerned about how pesticides might adversely affect people's health, she said.

Pesticides such as diazinon, com­monly used  against the roach, do not break down easily indoors and could be harmful for children and pets, she said.

The department recommendations are based on its research from a year-old pilot program in 1996 at a 900-unit apartment building.

Before  introducing the roach coach methods, the department found that 62 per cent of the units in the building used sprays to com­bat cockroaches. During the year, tenants learned how to prevent in­festations and, if necessary, use low-toxicity products such as boric acid paste and hydramenthylnon gel.

After the year long study, the re­searchers found that only 11 percent of the units still chose to use sprays.

Rich Whate, a member of the To­ronto Environmental Alliance,
which advised on the original study, recently applied the roach coach methods in an apartment complex in Etobicoke.

He said the tenants loved it and It worked.

The key to cockroach control is prevention. The health department urges residents to inspect for the pests and use traps to keep track of their movements. Tenants who sus­pect they have cockroaches should notify the bulling manager imme­diately.

Ms. Campbell urged residents to keep their kitchens and bathrooms clean to deprive the insects of food, water and hiding places. For example, leaving dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher is an open invitation for roaches.

Homeowners and building man­agers should fix water leaks and plug cracks and holes underneath sinks so cockroaches can't move from one place to another.

If the cockroaches are already in residence, a licensed pest-control company can come in and apply low-toxicity gels or baits. Since the roaches eat each others' feces, the poison they consume eventually kills the colony.

The health department's free educational brochure, called Farewell to Cockroaches, is available through Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. (which sponsored the study) at 1-800-668-2642.

Ms. Campbell said the initial cost of the "roach coach methods was twice as high as for conventional pesticide sprays. But she said that the apartment building in the proj­ect continued the green methods because they paid over time. The cockroaches did not return.


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