Houston tenants of an apartment building located on 3134 Hagman Crescent are concerned about a bed bug infestation and the use of the chemicals to battle the infestation.
Arvind Patel, owner of the apartment building, said the bed bugs were brought in to the buidling by a new tenant in February 2017.
“I was on holidays in mid-February and the tenant tried to get a mattress in the building, which was infected,” he said.
Patel said that it was not until mid-April that it was brought to his attention about a live bed bug in the building.
“At the end of April the tenant vacated the property and then we treated it,” said Patel. “The first of May it was treated by a licensed exterminator.”
“When it did happen in February we immediately sent out traps to all the tenants, and said that in case there is something I want to know about it,” said Patel.
Patel said that in mid-May, another tenant complained that there were bed bugs in their unit.
“We gave them the off shelf treatment found at Home Hardware,” said Patel. “Because it was not an infestation. An infestation is when you have thousands or hundreds of them that you can see.”
Green Earth Homecare Bed Bug & Crawling Insect Killer Dust was the treatment the tenant were given.
A tenant says that after using the product, he and his cats started to develop symptoms.
“I was given a can of ‘environmentally friendly’ powder that Arvind, the owner, gave one of the managers [that lives] across from me, and was told what Arvind said to do: Spray along the cracks and base boards,” a tenant said.
The tenant added, “I gave the cans out to neighbours and utilized the powder in my place as it says it is pet friendly. My cats developed scales on their noses since then and a very strong odour. My cats vomit frequently and so has my dog. My own lungs have also been succumbed by the fumes at times and my respiratory is cause for alarm.”
According to Health Canada, since 2012 to 2017 there have been 38 incident reports documented listing this specific product. Of the 38 reports, 27 were recorded as humans as the incident type and domestic animals making up the other 11 reports, including symptoms such as throat soreness and irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing for humans and vomiting and diarrhea for animals.
A second tenant said, “Beginning of March we started having burning eyes, numbness in lips.”
Green Earth Homecare Bed Bug & Crawling Insect Killer Dust is made of silicon dioxide present as 100 per cent Diatomaceous Earth (DE).
In an interview with Houston Today on July 12, 2017, Patel presented a document which lists one of the benefits of DE as, “It is safe to apply near food, pets, and children.”
Patel also provided a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of JT Eaton Kills BedBugs and Crawling Insects Powder which is the product that is going to be used to seal around the perimeters.
“I understand that they will try to flee [while the units are being heat treated] so the perimeters will be sealed with natural killer Diatomaceous Earth from both sides of the units.”
The MSDS of JT Eaton Kills BedBugs and Crawling Insects Powder states “Natural Diatomaceous Earth as a hazardous component.
“Prolonged and repeated exposure to excessive concentrations of this product’s dust, or any nuisance dust, can cause chronic pulmonary disease. Dust contact with eyes may cause temporary scratchiness or redness,” reads the MSDS.
A third tenant stated that Patel did not treat the original outbreak properly.
“He used temporary spray that only caused the bed bugs to move to other units and apartments nearby. He resisted getting a certified exterminator until the problem had spread all over Houston. He also used uncertified employees/tenants to spray instead of going to an exterminator. People moved out taking bed bugs with them. Those moving in got their belongings infested.”
The concerned tenants called Northern Health and lodged a complaint. Northern Health came to Housto and inspected the building on July 12, 2017.
At press time the inspector from Northern Health was unable to give a comment.