In Case of Emergency
Although pests like mice and cockroaches do not pose an immediate health threat, they can result in adverse health effects for people with asthma and breathing problems. Contact the Healthy Homes Coalition for more information on Integrated Pest Management.
Cockroaches are not just a nuisance, they can make children sick. The presence of cockroaches increases the symptoms of asthma and allergies. The toxic chemicals used to spray and bomb them are harmful for children and can persist in the home.
Your home doesn’t have to be dirty to support cockroaches. Once they are in the home, they can survive with very little food and water. While cleaning up helps, a number of strategies used in combination is the best solution.
Cockroaches are most commonly found in basements, kitchens and bathrooms. There are four cockroaches that are common in Michigan: the American Cockroach, the Oriental Cockroach, the German Cockroach, and the Brown-banded Cockroach. See here for more information on the different kinds of cockroaches.
Cockroaches are hitchhikers. They come into the home by hitching a ride on clothes, backpacks, bags, and other items brought into the home. Used furniture and appliances can be especially problematic, as they can also carry cockroach egg cases. Contrary to popular belief, they do not typically crawl or fly from one house to another in Michigan.
Who is at Risk?
Children are put at risk when sprays and bug bombs are used to try to rid the home of pests. For people with asthma and allergies, cockroaches are extremely problematic as their saliva, exoskeletons, and feces are all highly allergenic.
The easiest way to detect cockroaches living a the home is to look for their feces, which looks like greasy black pepper and is often found in the corners of cabinets and shelving, along cracks, and by other hiding places. Of course seeing a cockroach itself is a sign of infestation. People with allergies or asthma will often exhibit symptoms when cockroaches are in the home.
Cockroaches are an extremely common asthma trigger and are highly problematic for those with allergies. Some research points to their presence around young children as contributing to the development of asthma.
Pests need food, water and shelter to survive. Removing those makes it very hard for pests to survive in your home. Sprays and other pesticides should not be used, as they endanger people living in the house and only kill bugs when they come into contact with them.
You can take these Integrated Pest Management (IPM) steps to eliminate cockroaches:
- Keep all living areas uncluttered and clean.
- Eat in one area of the home to contain crumbs and food clean up.
- Put all food, food scraps and pet food in tightly sealed containers.
- Keep trash in a sealed container.
- Mop and clean surfaces at least once a week.
- Fix all plumbing and water leaks.
- After food, water, and shelter have been removed, bait stations and insect growth regulators can be used to kill the existing population.
Image Credit: National Center for Healthy Housing
Did You Know...
Cockroaches can fit in a crack as thin as a dime.
At Healthy Homes Coalition, we advocate for universal testing, lead paint removal & correction, and continuing knowledge of the issue. You should ask for your child to be tested for lead every year, up to age 3, and yearly up to age 5 if lead hazards are present in home. Once you have evidence of lead in the home, take action. If you live in Kent County, you can call Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan for a home environmental hazards screening, which can identify causes of lead poisoning and remove the hazards through case management.
When considering the health of your home, one of the first potential hazards to consider is your air quality. According to the EPA, the levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. With the pace of modern living, we often neglect pollutants like pesticides, humidity and mold, asbestos, cigarette smoke, and volatile organic compounds.
Healthy Homes Coalition is looking for dedicated and compassionate individuals to help serve our community!