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Press Release # 002-06
Thursday, January 12, 2006

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Sandra Mullin (
Eric Riley (


NEW YORK CITY – January 12, 2006 – One in three households in New York City uses pesticides that may be hazardous to their health, according to a new report issued by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today. Insecticidal sprays, bombs and foggers are used in 63% of households with cockroaches, while 9% of households with pests use Tempo®, a product that is illegal to sell for personal use in New York . Unsafe and illegal products – such as “Miracle Chalk” and “Chinese Chalk” for cockroaches, and “Tres Pasitos” for mice – are also commonly purchased, with pesticide usage rates higher overall in low-income Hispanic households. The full report is available online at

“No one should have to live in homes infested with pests,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “Nearly 1,000 people reported accidental dangerous exposures to pest control products in 2003. Ninety-five percent of these poisonings occurred in the home, half of them among children under five years old. Sprays, bombs and foggers are dangerous. New Yorkers are urged to use safer alternatives such as boric acid, gels and baits for cockroaches, and glue traps or bait in enclosed tamper-proof containers for rodents.

“Simple steps such as fixing leaks, storing food tightly and frequently removing garbage are the best ways to prevent rodent and roach infestations,” Dr. Frieden said. “Landlords play a critical role in helping residents keep their homes pest-free. New Yorkers can report conditions to 311 if their landlords are not cooperating.”

Findings of New Report on Pest Control.
• Of households with cockroaches, 9% use Tempo®, a product that is illegal to sell for personal use in New York.
• Cockroach and rodent infestations - and use of pesticides in the home - are most common in Northern Manhattan, Southern and Central Bronx and Central Brooklyn.
• People with cockroaches in their homes are 1.5 times more likely to have asthma.
• Households with rodents are twice as likely to have a person with asthma.
• Households in disrepair are nearly 2 times more likely to have a person with asthma.

The report also found that adults in nearly 30% of households (880,000 households) report having cockroaches in their home, and nearly 25% (680,000 households) report seeing mice or rats, or signs of mice or rats, in their home or residential building. Low-income families are most likely to use sprays, bombs and foggers, which easily contaminate cooking, eating and other surfaces.

Recommendations to Keep Pests Away

New York City housing and health codes require that landlords maintain apartments free from pests. Landlords and families can take simple measures to reduce infestations and the use of pesticides:

  • Fix leaks and dripping faucets quickly. Keep sinks dry overnight.
  • Use caulk and plaster to seal holes and cracks in kitchens and bathroom walls, floors, ceilings and cabinets.
  • Store food in sealed containers, and do not leave food, pet food or garbage out.
  • Reduce clutter and piling of newspapers and cardboard.
  • Remove garbage daily from apartments, and put garbage on the curb as close to pickup time as possible.
  • Use only safer pest control products such as boric acid, gels and baits for cockroaches, and glue traps or bait in enclosed tamper-proof containers for rodents. Avoid foggers, bombs and sprays that spread chemicals throughout the home.
  • If you have Tempo® , Tres Pasitos, Cockroach Chalk or any other pesticide that is improperly labeled, seal it in a plastic bag and discard it in a container away from children and pets.

For a copy of this report, information on illegal pesticides, or to report their sale, call 311 or log on to

About the Survey

The New York City Community Health Survey (CHS) is a telephone survey conducted annually by the DOHMH, Division of Epidemiology, Bureau of Epidemiology Services. CHS provides robust data on the health of New Yorkers, including both neighborhood and citywide estimates on a broad range of chronic diseases and behavioral risk factors.

CHS is based upon the National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CHS is a cross-sectional survey that samples approximately 10,000 adults aged 18 and older from all five boroughs of New York City – Manhattan , Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island . A computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system is used to collect survey data, and interviews are conducted in a variety of different languages. All data collected are self-reported.

The survey results are analyzed and disseminated in order to influence health program decisions, to increase the understanding of the relationship between health behavior and health status, and to support health policy positions.

Other data sources for this report include the 2002 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, NYC Poison Control Center calls, and the New York State Department of Health Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS).



NYC Vital Signs December 2005: Pests Can Be Controlled ... Safely
Pest Control
Pesticides in the Home, Safer Pest Control (PDF)
Community Health Survey