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Bugging off chemicals

Pest control companies taking a less is more approach

By Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer
April 27, 2010 12:00 AM

Clark Pest Control

Clark Pest Control's Adolfo Chavez sprays for
various bugs earlier this month outside a north
Stockton home.
Michael McCollum/The Record

It's a scene that makes the pest-control industry cringe: Actor John Goodman drowns a killer spider with a hose-like pulse of potent pesticide, then crushes the resilient beast with his boot.

The character from the 1990 movie "Arachnophobia" probably is typical of what people expect when they call in a bug blaster.

But state officials have recognized one San Joaquin County business for reducing the amount of chemicals it uses and for turning to other methods instead.

We're talking real high-tech stuff - such as vacuums, long-handled brushes to sweep out spider webs and handheld steam generators to sweat the little suckers out.

"We have been doing these types of things for a while, but a little bit more on the commercial level than residential," said Darren Van Steenwyk of Clark Pest Control, which has headquarters in Lodi but serves much of California.

"What we've tried to do is take the forefront, take the lead and try to minimize our impact and footprint on the environment to as little as possible," said Van Steenwyk, Clark's technical director.

The result, he said, has been a modest decrease in the amount of chemicals applied.

To be sure, the pest-control business is not pesticide-free. In 2008, 3.2 million pounds of pesticides were applied to homes and businesses in California, including 26,156 pounds in San Joaquin County, according to the Department of Pesticide Control.

That is a tiny fraction of the chemicals used on farmers' fields.

Nevertheless, any pesticides applied on the exterior of a home or on a garden or lawn are likely to run off into storm drains during wet weather, and those storm drains lead right to the Delta.

A University of California, Berkeley, study last year found pyrethroids - among the most widely used household pesticides - in Sacramento's American River at high enough concentrations to kill organisms similar to small shrimp.

The author of that study said at the time that he didn't believe most people need routine insecticide treatment.

"Average homeowners, when they hire pest-control companies to regularly spray their property to cut down on ants, don't realize that those same compounds end up in the American River at toxic levels," Donald P. Weston, an adjunct professor of biology, said when his study was released.

The San Joaquin River at the downstream edge of Stockton also reached a toxic threshold, Weston reported.

Clark Pest Control was honored by the state for a new program in which it inspects each property and talks with residents before deciding whether spraying is necessary. In the old days, spraying was pretty much a given.

Many residents are happy to avoid it if possible. Although make no mistake: They want the creepy-crawlies gone.

"You do what you have to, to take care of the problem," Van Steenwyk said.

Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295

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How Clark Pest Control protects your pets


This is a question that comes up often, "how will I know that pets are safe when you come out". Clark takes every measure to ensure the safety of your pets when we are there to treat your home. We at Clark know that your pets and not just "pets", they are members of your family and we take every precaution and measure to unsure they are safe. This is not an add-on but a Clark standard, and you should never expect less for your furry family members!

  • If we find water and food bowls, they are removed from the application area. Water bowls are replenished with clean water after the application.
  • We verify your pets are secure, with no access to treatment areas, before making applications.
  • We provide flea and tick protection service
  • We able to provide on-animal treatment with Petcor
  • Our S.M.A.R.T. technique entails targeted application areas
  • We can use low impact materials with lower toxicity to mammals
  • We always ensure your gates are closed to prevent your pets from escaping.
  • We prevent flea carriers like rodents from entering your home and yard.

Call Clark for your next service!

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Home Pesticides Linked to Childhood Cancers


This is a repost from Natural News, it is something that everyone should read. So I have to ask, who has never used over the counter pesticides? I'm sure if you were to take a poll the number of "Yes's" would tip the scales.

After reading this article I hope you will think twice before picking up a can of over the counter pesticides. I cannot stress this enough, use a licensed professional and always ask if they have Eco-friendly alternatives.  

Saturday, September 19, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Key concepts: Pesticides, Cancer and NaturalNews
View on NaturalPedia: Pesticides, Cancer and NaturalNews

(NaturalNews) Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a malignant disease of the bone marrow, is the most common cancer diagnosed in children. In fact, nearly one third of all pediatric cancers are cases of ALL. Although this form of cancer can be cured in many cases, in the worst case scenarios the cancer crowds out normal cells in the bone marrow, metastasizes to other organs and takes the lives of about 15 percent of the youngsters it attacks. What triggers so many kids, usually between the ages of three and seven, to develop this cancer in the first place? A new study just published in the August issue of the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring raises the suspicion that commonly used household pesticides are the cause.

Previous studies in agricultural areas of the US have shown strong associations between pesticides and childhood
cancers but this is the first research conducted in a large, urban area to look at the connection. The study, conducted between January of 2005 and January of 2008, involved 41 pairs of children with ALL and their mothers and a control group of 41 matched pairs of healthy children and their mothers. The volunteer research subjects were all from Lombardi and Children's National Medical Center and lived in the Washington metropolitan area.

Urine samples collected from the children and their mothers were analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look for metabolites that provide evidence of household pesticide exposure. Specifically, the scientists were looking for metabolites associated with the pesticides known by their chemical name as organophosphates (OP). The researchers found evidence of the pesticides in the
urine of more than half of all the participants, but levels of two common OP metabolites, diethylthiophosphate (DETP) and diethyldithiophosphate (DEDTP), were significantly higher in the children who suffered from cancer. What's more, the mothers who participated in the study filled out questionnaires that revealed more moms whose kids had cancer used pesticides (33 percent) than did the mothers in the control group (14 percent) whose youngsters were cancer-free.

"We know pesticides -- sprays, strips, or 'bombs,' are found in at least 85 percent of households, but obviously not all the children in these homes develop cancer. What this study suggests is an association between pesticide exposure and the development of childhood ALL, but this isn't a cause-and-effect finding," the study's lead investigator, Offie Soldin, PhD, an epidemiologist at Lombardi, said in a statement to the media. "Future research would help us understand the exact role of pesticides in the development of cancer. We hypothesize that pre-natal exposure coupled with genetic susceptibility or an additional environmental insult after birth could be to blame."

While the scientists aren't ready to flat out say pesticides cause cancer, when you look at the big picture and see what is already known about the havoc pesticides appear to cause in the human body, it makes sense for parents and parents-to-be to ditch pesticides -- for their own
health and for the health of their children. For example, NaturalNews has previously reported on the link between residential pesticides and childhood brain cancer (, and the strong association between a serious pre-cancerous blood condition and exposure to pesticides (

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