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The politics of bedbugs
Some conservatives blame environmental restrictions for the bedbug epidemic. Is there any evidence to back up their claims?
 
Some Republicans blame environmental regulation for America's bedbug problem.
Some Republicans blame environmental regulation for America's bedbug problem.
Corbis

"Some memes never die, as long as there are bloggers to keep them alive," says Jerry Adler at Newsweek. Case in point: The recent campaign by some on the Right to blame America's bedbug woes on environmental regulations — specifically, the government's 1972 decision to ban the insecticide DDT. The problem with that argument is that "while DDT was enormously successful in killing the pests during the 1940s," bedbugs developed a robust resistance to it by the 1960s. Still, the discussion isn't totally without merit:

The one thing that demonstrably does work is a pesticide called propoxur, but in 2007, when the EPA asked the manufacturer for more safety data—which would have cost millions of dollars to compile—it was pulled from the residential market instead. The main safety concerns involve young children; it is still registered for nonhousehold uses. Last year the state of Ohio petitioned EPA for an emergency exemption from the ban. In a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland this spring, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said the request “presents an unacceptable risk to children."...

So leaving DDT out of it, you could, if you choose, blame overzealous regulators for allowing bedbugs to creep back into American mattresses—although as a political matter, you face the awkward fact that several of the key decisions, in 2002 and 2007, were taken under the auspices of the famously antiregulatory Bush administration.

Read the entire article at Newsweek.

 

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