In an effort to curb the proliferation of creepy, blood-sucking bedbugs, the Department of Sanitation is requiring everyone disposing of a mattress or box spring to seal it in plastic before leaving it outside for collection.
“There has been a rise in bedbug-related complaints within the city, and bedding is the prime nesting place for most bedbugs,” Commissioner John Doherty said in a prepared statement. “We also suggest that the plastic mattress bags be placed around the bedding before it is removed from the room out to the curb to further limit bedbugs from infesting other parts of the home or apartment.”
The new rule took effect on Dec. 3, but full enforcement will begin Jan. 3. Violators could be fined $100.
Bedbugs are nocturnal parasites that feed primarily on human blood. They infest houses and especially beds, living in cracks and crevices in dark, undisturbed locations close to their hosts.
In 2009 Brooklyn had the most bedbug complaints, according to the city’s department of Housing Preservation and Development, with 4,042, followed by Manhattan with 2,553, the Bronx with 2,230, Queens with 2,039 and Staten Island with 131.
The household pests show their presence even before a person gets bitten by shedding their skin and leaving behind eggs and fecal spots. Although bedbugs are not know to spread diseases, negative health effects include dermatitis, secondary skin infections and anemia in severe cases.
The plastic bags necessary to dispose of bedding are available at department stores, home improvement centers, home supply businesses and online. Some mattress retailers even provide removal options with purchases. For more information on the regulations, go to nyc.gov/sanitation or call 311.
The City Council is considering a bill asking the state to impose new rules on sellers of second-hand bedding to prevent the spread of bedbugs. Queens council members James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton), Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) are co-sponsors.