For the millions of asthmatic children who regularly face lost sleep, missed school days, limited playtime and frequent medical visits, a National Institutes of Health-related study identifies one step to alleviate their health problems: Control cockroaches.
The inner-city study by NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), indicated that among several allergens common in homes, such as those from dust mites and cats, cockroach allergens were shown to cause the most health problems for asthmatic children. The NIAID report, "National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study" was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Although dramatic, the study results brought no surprise to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), which represents the nation's professional pest control companies, or RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment®) which represents the non-food/non-fiber pesticide supplier industry. Members of both groups are well aware of the health difficulties spawned by cockroach infestations. "The children in this study represent just a small percentage of the millions of children in rural and suburban America who may suffer from roach-infested environments," said Rob Lederer, NPMA executive vice president.
Both NPMA and RISE strive to inform consumers on the importance of controlling such pests through programs such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). "Effective IPM programs manage harmful pests by balancing the benefits of control costs, public health and environmental protection," said Allen James of RISE. "IPM has been endorsed by government regulators, industry and other interest groups as a program that offers many control options, including the use of pesticides. An effective cockroach control program calls for the judicious use of pesticides, as well as good sanitation and other measures," he added.
Dr. Rick Brenner, research leader for the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Unit, was excited about all the research on cockroach allergens. Brenner and a staff of four scientists have studied the issue since 1988.
"Our research efforts are centered around developing a proactive approach to cockroach control that will empower the pest control industry to effectively solve the problem," said Brenner. "Through alliances with industry and other members of the private sector, we're looking at improvements that can be made in building construction, better use of the insecticides we have and, perhaps most important, development of an inexpensive cockroach allergen detection and mapping system that will be used to develop allergen management strategies. The pest control industry needs more tools than what they currently have to improve the indoor environment," he added.