Could Bed Bugs Lurk In Used Furniture?
Friday, January 6, 2012
BAKERSFIELD, CA - That secondhand couch may come with a great
price, but does the bargain come with bed bugs?
The tiny pests are a newly growing problem, and some good advice is
to be careful when buying used furniture.
How can you spot bed bugs if you're looking for an item at a yard
sale or garage sale? Charities are dealing with the bed bug issue,
too. They have some valuable advice to share.
"You look at the seams, and if the seams have little, tiny spots --
usually that's a by-product of bed bugs," Goodwill's Ramon Garza
told Eyewitness News.
The local organization now trains all their managers and crews to
be on the look-out for the insects.
Bed bugs are about one-fourth inch long, according to the
California Department of Health Services. Other experts describe
the insects as white to light tan, oval-shaped and flat.
That size and shape makes it easy for bed bugs to hide, and they're
hard to spot.
Garza also recommends looking at any furniture cushions. "Pick up
the little binding around it," he says. "You'll see a little trail,
or you'll see the little, tiny bugs."
At local Goodwill Industries facilities, any donation spotted with
bed bugs is kept separate and then picked up to be destroyed.
And, starting this year the charity won't even take in mattresses
-- because of bed bug concerns.
"Currently we've been trying to limit the amount of mattresses that
are donated to us," spokesman Ken Beurmann told Eyewitness News. He
said they'll put up signs at donation centers.
"Without a doubt (mattresses) are the number-one source of product
that gets donated to us that have bed bugs in it." Beurmann
He said Goodwill never sold mattresses or other bedding like
futons. They would take in those items, but send them out to
recycling centers. That will no longer be the case, thanks to the
bed bug risk.
Beurmann said the organization will now tell donors with mattresses
that they should dispose of them properly at some place like a
The state health department reports there has been a resurgence of
bed bug infestations throughout the United States.
"Bed bugs, while a significant social problem, do not transmit
disease to humans," a DHS report says. "However, bed bug bites will
cause red, raised, itchy reactions to the skin."
Experts say the pests can turn up, no matter how clean an area is.
The tiny bugs can spread by "hitch-hiking" on things like clothes,
suitcases, and furniture.
"We look to see that there are, first of all, no bed bugs," Garza
said. He explained that crews at Goodwill now check donations.
Anything found with bed bugs is never even brought into a Goodwill
store, he said.
Beurmann said their organization helps local people overcome
barriers to employment, and selling furniture is an important part
of their stores.
He said it's still possible to offer furniture -- they just take
the extra precautions. And consumers can still take advantage of
used furniture deals, by taking some precautions of their
"We'd encourage the public to continue to buy second-hand
furniture, as long as you feel comfortable that the organization
has taken the necessary measures to get rid of the risk of bed
bugs," Beurmann said.