The Battle Over Bedbugs | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 18 | p. 2 | Letters
Issue Date: May 2, 2011

The Battle Over Bedbugs

Department: Letters

I read “Battling the Bedbug Epidemic,” and I am astonished that the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency have gone this far (C&EN, March 7, page 13). Bedbugs are incredibly easily controlled and eliminated with the use of cornstarch baby powder sprinkled on mattresses or pillows or other areas where they are suspected of hiding. It can be quickly rubbed into mattresses and pillows so it is not even detectable.

We use it whenever our dog brings fleas or bedbugs into the house. Cornstarch baby powder suffocates the insects instantly. We use it on our dog to kill fleas and on our chickens to control other insect pests. It is amazingly effective. Anyone can try it at very little cost and no risk to their health. If we put it on babies, it must be okay, right?

I hope you can publicize this very important alternative to spraying chemicals on hotel mattresses. We already have a national law requiring mattress flame retardants that can have neurological, endocrine, and immune consequences at low concentrations on our mattresses, when there is a totally safe alternative in the form of a silicon dioxide treatment developed by Majid Sarmadi in the School of Human Ecology here at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He did not patent his technology so it would be available to mattress makers free of charge.

The American Chemical Society has been leading the effort to develop greener alternatives to the use of chemicals that have biological activity at very low concentrations. I hope you will publicize these alternatives so that manufacturers can take advantage of these opportunities, increase their market share, and help safeguard the health of our population, which appears to be declining steadily as judged by data from CDC over the past few years.

Warren Porter
Madison, Wis.

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