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Pests & Pesticides

Controlling Pests and Rodents Safely
Pests, including cockroaches, rats and mice, are common in New York City (NYC), especially in high-poverty neighborhoods with poorly maintained buildings. In some neighborhoods, more than 50% of households report seeing cockroaches on a daily basis and mice within the last three months. Pests, especially cockroaches and mice, affect indoor air quality and can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in some people. Asthma affects more than one million New Yorkers.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a prevention-based pest management method that provides long lasting pest control, improves building conditions and is less harmful to residents and pets than traditional pest control. Whereas traditional pest control relies on regularly scheduled pesticide applications, IPM targets the underlying causes of pest infestations through simplepest proofing strategies such as fixing leaks and holes and managing garbage to deprive pests of food, water, shelter and ways to get around. If pesticides must be used, IPM uses the least toxic chemicals, applied in the safest manner to protect people and pets. IPM requires a team effort. Everyone has a role to play from tenants to building staff to property owners.

IPM takes away the things pests need to survive: food, water, shelter and ways to get around. To keep pests away safely:

  • Keep garbage in sealed bags or containers and remove from home daily
  • Store food in sealed containers
  • Report pests and conditions that attract pests such as leaks and holes to building management

If repairs are not made, visit NYC 311 to make complaints about pests, mice, rats or conditions that may attract them.

Pesticides should only be used in a safe manner by licensed pest control professionals.

  • Never use foggers, bombs, or pesticides such as Chinese/Roach Chalk, tres pasitos or Tempo that can easily land in places where people cook, eat and play.
  • Never use illegal pesticides or pesticides without a manufacturer's label.

For information about bed bugs, download Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely (PDF) or visit the bed bug portal.

Pests and Asthma
Pests like cockroaches and mice are far too common in many households in NYC, especially in low income neighborhoods with poorly maintained housing. In some neighborhoods, over 50% of households report seeing cockroaches on a daily basis and mice within the last 3 months. Cockroach and mouse body parts and droppings affect indoor air quality and can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in some children and adults. In NYC, asthma affects over 1 million New Yorkers.

Building Owners, Building Managers, Building “Supers” and Workers
Using IPM in your building can provide long-term effective pest control, prevent pest-related damage to buildings, improve building and air quality and reduce resident complaints. It is also consistent with good building management and can save time and money in the long run. Implementing IPM can:

  • reduce the presence of asthma triggers like cockroaches, mice, and chemical pesticides
  • provide long-term effective pest control
  • improve building quality
  • prevent pest-related damage to building components
  • increase tenant satisfaction

Integrated Pest Management Toolkit for Building Owners, Managers and Staff: This toolkit (PDF) is designed to support building-wide implementation of IPM.

Brochures and Resources

For additional information, training resources and technical assistance or specific questions, please email or call 311 and ask for “Healthy Homes.”

Pesticides and Pesticide Laws for Building Owners and Managers
Building owners are required to keep apartments and common areas free of pests. The spraying of chemical pesticides alone does not get at the root of pest problems. Pesticide application can sometimes be an appropriate response to pest infestations when used in combination with other pest management methods such as pest proofing and improved sanitation. However, building owners must hire a licensed professional to apply pesticides because they contain chemicals that may cause harm to people, pets, and the environment. Chemical pesticides always should be used sparingly and according to the directions on the label.

  • Never use foggers or bombs. The chemicals land in places people cook, eat and play.
  • Never purchase or use a product without a manufacturer’s label.
  • Never buy pesticides from street vendors.
  • Never use a product for a different insect or rodent than is named on the label.
  • Always store chemicals safely in the original containers according to the label directions. Keep children and pets away from all pesticides.
  • Always review with the pest management company the reason for any pesticide application and the associated risks.

The NYC Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for advice about exposure to poisons. Call 1-800-222- 1222 or 212-POISONS (212-764-7667).
Pesticide use is regulated by federal, state, and local laws to reduce risks to public health and the environment.

New York City Laws
Neighbor Notification Law (Local Law 36)
Requires that commercial lawn pesticide applicators give neighbors written notice 48 hours before applying certain pesticides, and requires that homeowners who use lawn pesticides post warning signs around their property.

Pesticide Use by New York City Agencies (Local Law 37)
Sets limitations on the use of pesticides by New York City agencies. It phases out the use of certain pesticides, institutes new recordkeeping and reporting procedures, and requires prior notice to the public before certain pesticide applications are made.

New York State Laws
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is the state agency responsible for administering and enforcing New York State pesticide laws.

Federal Laws
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the production, transport, sale, use, and disposal of all pesticides through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
For Business Owners
Any business that handles food may attract rats and mice. This can include grocery stores, bodegas, cafeterias, group homes, restaurants, senior centers, and soup kitchens. The presence of pests inside and outside these facilities can be prevented and managed with simple IPM techniques.
In New York City, food handling facilities are vulnerable to infestation because:

  • Space is very limited, with tightly packed storage and clutter.
  • Stores are often connected to other buildings – both commercial and residential. Pests in nearby buildings can enter through utility systems such as sewers and sub-surface utility conduits shared by buildings.
  • Stores may be in older buildings, which have more cracks and crevices, making it easier for pests to enter.

How to Prevent Pests in Your Business:

  1. Make sure you have enough hard plastic or metal garbage cans with tight fitting lids to hold at least three days’ worth of garbage. Use heavy-duty plastic garbage bags at least 1.9 millimeters thick.
  2. Bring garbage cans and bags to the curb as close to pick-up time as possible.
  3. Wash the garbage area, front sidewalk and curbs before closing time. Put rags soaked in a mild bleach solution into your garbage bags to prevent grease stains, odors and flies that will attract rodents.
  4. Get rid of clutter:
    • Throw out old boxes
    • Store everything at least six inches off the floor and away from walls
  5. Inspect all deliveries. Pests can hide in delivery boxes.
  6. Shut rodents out:
    • Close gaps under doors with rodent-resistant metal door sweeps
    • Put screens on windows and vents
    • Seal gaps around pipes and other openings
  7. Fill large holes and cracks in the sidewalk, rear yard or building foundation with cement. Hire a pest management company licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to help.
IPM Training Opportunities

Half-Day Training Course in Rat Management
The Health Department offers free Rat Management Training to encourage best practices in rat prevention. This half-day training is targeted to superintendents, building staff, property managers, homeowners, interested tenants, community gardeners, and the local business community. Participants learn about the steps building operators and homeowners can take to achieve a rat-free property through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The training is conducted by knowledgeable experts with practical field experience. All pre-registered participants will receive a rat management certificate, and a rat-resistant trash can.

To sign up for the half-day training course in rat management or for more information, please send an email or call 311.

Three-Day Training Course in Rat Management
The Health Department offers a free, three-day, intensive rat control training course for city employees, pest management professionals, municipalities, universities, and food safety personnel involved in rodent control programs. The goal of the New York City Rodent Control Academy (NYCRCA) is to provide a highly focused and standardized approach to managing rodent populations through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). After completing this course, graduates will be able to more effectively manage rodent populations, because they will have a better understanding of the biology, behavior and habitat of rodents, contributing factors to infestation, effective ways of evaluating site-specific responses and strategies, and effective communication strategies with the public to achieve lasting change and improvements.

The Health Department offers a for pest control professionals. This free, three-day, intensive rat control training course is intended for city employees, pest management professionals, municipalities, universities , food safety personnel involved in the rodent control programs. Since 2005, the 3-Day Academy has trained over 2000 students from all parts of the USA and all types of occupations that must address rat management.

Register for the three-day rat academy

Healthy Homes Training for HPD-Financed Projects
Healthy Homes NYC is a free two hour seminar developed by DOHMH for HPD-financed projects. It will be offered on a quarterly basis and is intended for architects, general contractors and building owners/developers. The training will focus on integration of healthy building practices during building design, construction and renovation and during on-going building operations and maintenance. The primary topic areas covered are: integrated pest management, smoke free housing and active design.

This training is a pre-requisite to the certification process for the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria for HPD financed projects. The training is also being offered to other HPD Preservation Programs, but not required. A DOHMH certificate of completion will be valid for a period of three years, after which it will have to be renewed by re-taking the class.

Register for the Healthy Homes Training for HPD-Financed Projects

Other Resources
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)