New Mattress Policy Looks to Curb Bed Bugs in Philly

With bed bugs on the rise nationwide, many cities and townships are implementing legislative measures in an attempt to keep these pesky insects from taking over. Among the most recent places to enforce a new set of “bed bug laws” is the second largest city on the east coast – Philadelphia, PA.

As their name implies, bed bugs are more than happy to make themselves at home in mattresses and boxsprings. There is always the chance that when you bring home a used mattress or couch from the curb, you may also be bringing home unwelcome six-legged hitchhikers, and it is important to exercise caution when picking up second hand furniture. Equally important, however, is disposing of old furniture as responsibly well.

In an effort to keep Philadelphia from joining Pittsburgh among Pennsylvania cities to make the list of top 50 bed bug locations in the US, the home of the cheesesteak is now taking preventative measures against the spread of these increasingly common pests. Starting this year, Philadelphia has introduced a new policy for the disposal mattresses intended to avoid the spread of bed bugs within the city.

In order to protect waste removal professionals from coming into contact with these pesky insects, mattress refuse must be completely covered in plastic wrapping before being put out for collection. Philadelphia’s new policy is modeled after similar measures being taken in New York City to prevent the fast spread of bed bugs throughout neighborhoods with high population density. If trash collectors come upon a mattress that has not been sealed in the proper fashion, it will not be removed.

While mattress covers are an easy and effective way to contain bed bug infestations, it is turning out to be more of an obstacle than a solution to bed bugs in Philly.

Even with the new policy in effect, many people are still disposing of their old mattresses and boxsprings without the proper coverings, and as garbage collectors bypass these uncovered mattresses they are beginning to pile up on curbs and sidewalks across the city. The resulting eyesore is actually complicating Philadelphia’s bed bug problem rather than solving it.

Deputy Streets Commissioner Donald Carlton acknowledges the challenges they are facing, but he is hopeful that the policy will catch on. Penalty for mattress dumping in Pennsylvania’s largest city warrants a $50 fine, with the plastic covers themselves costing as little as $10, so the less costly option is also the more responsible one.

“Whenever you have a culture change,” Carlton said of the new mattress legislature, “culture change doesn’t come easy.”

Bed bugs are opportunists; they won’t hesitate to hitch a ride into your home whenever the chance arises. Covering up old mattresses is just one way to stop them in their tracks.

Posted In: Bed Bugs, News