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City Council Wants US To Invest In Bedbug Fight

NEW YORK (CBS New York/AP) -- After battling a rising -- and itchy -- tide of bedbug infestations, New York's City Council wants the federal government to dive in to the fight.

With the Environmental Protection Agency convening a National Bedbug Summit Tuesday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several council members called on federal officials to put money into initiatives to fight the minuscule, resilient creatures.

"Given the difficulty of exterminating bed bugs, we are calling upon the (EPA) to conduct further research and development of effective pesticides," the council members said in a letter to the EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Scientists have said the critters have become more resistant to certain pesticides.

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The letter also asked the EPA to regulate how pesticides are used to kill the bugs and called on HUD to allocate funds for bedbug extermination in public housing, where residents are particularly vulnerable.

The council has given the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene $500,000 to research and educate the public on how to combat the bloodsucking pests, which are each about the size of an apple seed and have been found everywhere from the city's high-end clothing stores to its movie theaters.

Experts have theorized that the surge in New York and elsewhere around the country may be partly due to an increase in global travel and the banning of certain pesticides. In 2009, a city Health Department survey found more than 6 percent of New Yorkers -- one in 15 adults -- said they had battled the pests in the past year.

"In particular, urban centers are affected by bed bugs, and we must come together to create a comprehensive and integrated response," the council's letter said.

The EPA had no immediate comment in response to the letter. HUD did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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