NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 30, 2004

Almost half of the nation's poor live in vermin-infested housing, yet New York City's attorney general, along with five other state attorneys, are suing the federal government for using pesticides in public housing units.

The AGs claim they want to promote "integrated pest management," which just means using a variety of means to control pests -- including pesticide use. But these taxpayer-funded "consumer advocates" seem more interested in their own irrational quest to eliminate chemicals, say observers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, vermin pose major problems for public health:

  • Asthma affects about 6 million children nationwide, and cockroach-related asthma and allergies disproportionately affect poor, minority children living in the inner city.
  • Rats, which can carry over 70 different diseases, frequently bite the hands and faces of children under the age of 5 while they're sleeping.
  • A Los Angeles hospital reported that African-Americans and Hispanics accounted for all rat bites treated by the hospital during a three-year period, says Dr. Pamela Nagami.

Furthermore, the National Organization of African-Americans in Housing (NOAHH) reports that household pests are one of the top three problems affecting minority and low-income residents in inner cities, and that the use of pesticides poses a small risk compared to the greater risk of vermin-related health problems.

The lawsuit, supported by green activists and taxpayer funded "consumer advocates," could give a victory to rats, mice and cockroaches, but create further health problems for the public housing residents.

Source: Angela Logomasini, "A Green Push to Keep Projects Safe for Vermin," Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 5, 2004.

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