When it comes to understanding, and lowering, the risk that cockroaches pose to urban children’s health, an NC State entomologist and a Tulane University epidemiologist are making substantial strides.
Coby Schal, the Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State, and Felicia Rabito, an associate professor of epidemiology in Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, have collaborated since 2011 to understand the role of cockroaches on the quality of homes in the inner city and their link to asthma in low-income children.
Through recent randomized, controlled experiments in low-income housing in Raleigh and New Orleans, Schal and Rabito wanted to see if eliminating cockroaches with targeted insecticidal treatments would improve asthma outcomes.
The research showed promising results: Children in homes that used simple, inexpensive insecticidal baits had fewer asthma symptoms, used health-care services less and improved their lung function.
The researchers reported that the findings raise the possibility that inexpensive cockroach control could replace the more complex pest management strategies that are currently recommended.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently recognized the impact of their long-running research, education and outreach programs, bestowing on them the 2018 HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes for research innovation.
Rabito and Schal were honored by HUD and the National Environmental Health Association in late June at the Healthy Homes Conference in Anaheim, California.
In notifying the researchers about their award, Carson explained that the award “recognizes programs that demonstrate overall excellence in terms of healthy indoor environments in response to both the needs and constraints of affordable housing.”