Nassau Social Services Fights Bed Bugs
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nassau's Department of Social Services Building in Uniondale is being treated for an infestation of bedbugs and mice, county officials said Tuesday.

Workers in the building on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard have complained in recent months of bedbug bites on their arms and several have discovered mouse excrement on their desks, said Civil Service Employees Association president Jerry Laricchiuta. He wants the department to get more aggressive in its remediation. "People are afraid to go their desk," he said. "Between the mice and the bedbugs, that's not an acceptable workplace environment."

The building has been treated for bedbugs on and off for two years but the problem persisted, said department Deputy Commissioner Paul Broderick. The bugs were likely transported into the building by the roughly 1,200 daily visitors or by staff, he said.

"Everyone acknowledges there is an issue," Broderick said. "And, we are addressing it collaboratively."

In January, the state Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau cited the department for failing to have an effective and continuous remediation program. Since then, private exterminators have been brought in and bait traps were set for the rodents, Broderick said.

A thorough cleanup of the building, including vacuuming and shampooing of floors, began April 29 and will continue through mid-May, he said.

The department is encouraging employees to remove food from their desks, avoid wearing cuffed pants where bedbugs may hide and to put tape over the bugs to trap them. The department also has portable bedbug heaters at its three employee entrances that can be used to exterminate bugs carried in personal belongings.