If I hear something, or if I feel something Im at the edge of my nerves, she told the Star. Pest control companies say Dovers situation is becoming increasingly common, as Torontos rat population is on the rise. Daniel Mackie, technical services director of Greenleaf Pest Control, said rat calls have increased 10 to 15 per cent every year for the past five years, particularly for residential areas that have historically been almost rat free. Mackie said Torontos green movement may be to blame, although he stressed the growing rat population is probably caused by several factors. As the city of Toronto tries to become a little bit more green, or a little more natural, were getting into more green spaces, people are putting gardens back in their yards, all of which supports rats, he said. You create gardens and you create this beautiful landscape because you want the birds and the butterflies and you want Mother Nature to be at your doorstep, he said. But you cant put a little sign up saying, I only want the pretty things and I dont want the ugly things that come with it, he said. Mackie said other factors include recent, milder winters, as well as construction forcing rats out of Torontos underground. Composters were identified by a number of pest control companies, including Mackies, as dream food sources for rats. Waheed Ahmed, who owns Pesticon Pest Control, agreed with Mackie that Toronto is home to more rats, and that composters can help sustain them. Carlo Panacci said he tells people to get rid of their composters when his company, Cain Pest Control, gets called to a house with a rat problem. Panacci said the green organic waste bins collected weekly by the city are usually fine, although rats can sometimes manage to chew right through them. Unlike Mackie and Ahmed, Panacci argues its really difficult to know if there are more rats in Toronto. The city doesnt keep track of the rat population, and Mackie said his evidence is largely anecdotal. However, Mackie noted, pest control companies identify problematic trends (he used bedbugs as an example) years before anyone else is paying attention. Both homeowners and the city need to wake up to the rat problem, he said, especially since rats play a major role in spreading diseases. Rats and people just dont mix, he said. We know this, based on plagues, based on zoonotic diseases that are transferred by these animals. A spokeswoman for Toronto Public Health said in an emailed statement that the department deals with rats in terms of food premises, and theyre not a growing problem. Kris Scheuer said rats are mostly nuisances. We do not have the issue of rats being the source of bubonic plague, as is the case in other parts of the world, she said. Back in Forest Hill, Councillor Joe Mihevc said hes trying to help residents.
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Underground market for cheap pest control endangering lives in UAE
Deadly gases released in the incidents had spread to the victims homes. A number of other tenants were hospitalised, some in serious condition, sources told Gulf News. Many others have died or fallen ill in similar circumstances over the years. In the latest incident this month, five suspects who allegedly supplied the toxins were arrested in Sharjah. And on Tuesday officials revealed several Dubai companies were recently shut down for allegedly using chemicals prohibited for home pest control. Infographic Timeline: Pesticide poisoning incidents in UAE Among the toxins banned for home use is aluminium phosphide, known in the underground market as bomb for its strength. It is used in tablet form, which releases a potentially lethal gas when exposed to air. Officials and licensed pest control companies said the chemical is only allowed for industrial use in strictly-controlled circumstances by trained professionals, mainly in the fumigation of stored grains. But some rouges use it in apartments, it releases a highly toxic gas, said Dinesh Ramachandran, technical director, National Pest Control. He added that dodgy operators use or sell it at low cost to lure business from residents. They say theyll do your home for as little as Dh50. Thats just not right. Safetys paramount weve seen whats happened recently. Sources said some bombs shipments are smuggled into the UAE. Though the toxin is also legally imported for licensed use, some of it ends up in the hands of shady operators cashing in on demand for cheap home pest control, the sources added. Ramachandran added: You pay extra for safety and expertise. The public has to appreciate the role of professionals, theyre involved in a public health service. They know what theyre doing, theyre not trying to rip you off. We are government-approved for a reason. The unlicensed treatment can be three times cheaper than professional services, the licensed companies said. The rouges charge about Dh100 to treat a two-bedroom apartment for crawling insects, versus about Dh350 charged by licensed firms, on average. James Nicholson, general manager of Rentokil, warned residents to be wary of six month guarantees often touted by dodgy services. He also highlighted the risk of inadvertently calling in unscrupulous operators that promise rock-bottom prices but deliver hazardous services. A list of approved companies is available through UAE municipalities. Nicholson added that though authorities closely regulate the pest control industry it can be a challenge to pre-empt misuse. He said: There are other pesticides that work in the same way [as bombs]. It is a legal product. If youre a chemical supplier, do you ask the person you sell it to, what youre going to do with it?
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