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May 8, 2006
Brooklynites get help exterminating asthma

by Joyce Shelby
By picking up a flyer at her local library, Anissa Cannady found a way to help improve her son's asthma and get rid of some most-unwelcome visitors - mice.

The flyer was distributed by Pest@Rest, an extermination company run by The Doe Fund, a nonprofit serving the homeless. Pest@Rest is offering free services to families in private apartments where someone has asthma in the neighborhoods represented by Community Board 3.

"These guys saved my household," said Cannady, of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Her 8-year-old son, Bryan, is asthmatic. Funding for the program comes from the city Health Department.

Asthma is a leading cause of hospitalization for New York City children up to age 14, according to the Health Department.

"If you are allergic to mice or roaches, they can be a major trigger for asthma episodes if your home is infested," said Lorna Davis, director of the department's New York City Asthma Initiative.

Strong pesticides can also trigger problems. The Health Department has adopted what Davis described as a "low-toxicity approach" to ridding homes of pests.

"By cleaning regularly, not leaving food out, caulking kitchen cabinets and holes where pests can hide, you put stress on them and make it difficult for them to survive," Davis said.

Cannady said she launched her effort the minute she saw a mouse scurry across her living room floor.

"I scrubbed. I washed the floors. I was disgusted," Cannady recalled. When the Pest@Rest team showed up, they surveyed the apartment to find out where the mice were coming from.

"We vacuumed, put powder in cracks and holes, and sealed them," said Ed Sheehan of Pest@Rest. "We put down locked bait stations and made this apartment like an island that would be hard for mice or roaches to get into."

"Bryan says he feels freer, like he can breathe better," Cannady said. "I'm most appreciative."

To qualify for a free Pest@Rest extermination visit, you must live in a neighborhood represented by Community Board 3 and a private building with three or more apartments. At least one family member must have asthma. Call (718) 309-6223 for an appointment.      

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