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Is there a vacuum in your professional service?

| February 21, 2016

The use of vacuum cleaners in pest control is probably under-rated and they should be considered as part of a service. In fact, some pest controllers are already starting to include the use of vacuums as part of their service or as an add-on post-treatment

Pest management professionals (PMPs) offer a different service to those engaged in hygiene enterprises and there may be a view that using a vacuum equates with duties provided by such cleaning and janitorial services companies. Clearing an area of debris to assess current pest activity should be the job of a PMP. Leaving behind insect bodies for a client to ‘see’ how hard a technician has worked to solve a pest problem is not professional. In fact, leaving any mess behind for a client to clean up afterwards, is not professional nor the beginning of a stable partnership.

Having a vacuum cleaner on a pest control service vehicle should be considered to be as important as having a torch or flashlight, but it must be one that is designed to pick up potentially dangerous material and not blow it back into the room through the exhaust.

Some studies show that the allergens left behind by cockroaches can remain in the domestic environment for an extended period of time, where they remain as a threat to those suffering from allergic asthma. This can also be the case with rodent allergens and one study shows that 18% of children with asthma are sensitive to the mouse allergen Mus m 1. Furthermore, vacuuming can remove sources of bacterial or viral contamination, such as rodent droppings – think salmonella, E. coli and Hantavirus! Of course, an appropriate disinfectant should be used first, to minimize risk. Flea control can be aided by the use of a vacuum and one study showed that 90% of flea eggs, 50% of larvae and 90% of adults can be removed from a property by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuums are designed to capture such materials, with a 99.97% efficient at 0.3 micron and larger, and keep it contained in the filter. This is the type that should be carried and used by a PMP. This level of filtration is achieved through either a multiple stage filtering process which includes a messy filter bag and a secondary or tertiary filter system, or an immediate containment
cartridge filter system with all three layers of filtration built into a safe self-contained all-in-one filter cartridge – with the latter being optimal for pest control use.

Vacuums, with a HEPA immediate containment cartridge filter, such as the Atrix Green Supreme are the most efficient for the pest management industry. The benefit of a cartridge, compared to a multi stage filter systems, is that sucked up material is contained and the machine itself stays much cleaner. Changing the filter is a sim- ple matter of dropping in a new cartridge without the danger of insects, odours and filth being scattered in the process.

An example of a how a vacuum can be included in an integrated pest management programme, is to use the vacuum first to remove any observable insects i.e. bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, etc. In the case of rodents, removing old droppings, spilt product and debris will give a clean environment to assess activity in more detail. This will also remove any loose dirt or soil that would inhibit the effectiveness of any treatments. Then the appropriate interventions are delivered: heat, cold, fumigation, chemical or mechanical; whatever processes are considered relevant. The vacuum is then used again to remove as much of the dead or dying insects and remains of the job as possible. This not only removes potential survivors (for reinfestation later), health hazards and contaminants, but can help remove sources of odours as well. This represents a professional approach to pest control. Also, it should not be considered a free, add-on service, as time and vacuum consumable costs i.e. cartridge replacement, can be costed into the job as necessary.

removal of dead insects

Removal of dead insects, dead mites, allergens, rodent hairs, rodent droppings and other pest-related contaminants can be just as important as controlling them in the first place. Removal of such contaminants removes potential allergens from premises, which may be important in terms of triggering allergic asthma.

No matter what the pest, there are things that must be vacuumed up for control processes to be more effective. It is a necessary and effective layer of intervention to achieve a pest free environment demanded by clients. Understanding the potential of a vacuum’s ability to safeguard the client’s health and wellbeing, demonstrates a commitment to delivering a professional service.

Author: Steve Zeilinger*
Atrix International, Inc., 1350 Larc Industrial Blvd. Burnsville, MN 55337, USA.

Published in International Pest Control – November/December 2015 issue

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Category: Public health

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