Avoiding Bed Bugs Gets Harder

Bed Bug

Underside of Immature Bed Bug

The resurgence of bed bugs after decades of hiatus has made consumers think twice about used furniture. Many people buy new mattresses rather than risk a bed bug infestation from a used one. That strategy may have more risk than we might imagine.

Arizona KTVK reports that an Arizona woman discovered bed bugs in her home and immediately called an exterminator. She had purchased “new” mattresses three months previously. The pest control technician was suspicious of the weight of the mattress. When he ripped it open he found an old mattress inside the new one. The old mattress had been covered with new padding to make it look new. The retailer that sold the woman the mattress knows nothing, claims they sell only mattresses from “reputable” companies and claims that they don’t have bed bugs. The retailer promised to fully refund the customer’s money and pay for her bed bug eradication. How can this happen?

New mattresses are regulated by the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act. The act requires that mattresses be labeled (You know, the labels that say, “Do not remove under penalty of law.” which are meant to apply to the seller, not the consumer). The TFPIA states:

(h) For the purposes of this subchapter, a textile fiber product shall be misbranded if it is used as stuffing in any upholstered product, mattress, or cushion after having been previously used as stuffing in any other upholstered product, mattress, or cushion, unless the upholstered product, mattress, or cushion containing such textile fiber product bears a stamp, tag, or label approved by the Commission indicating in words plainly legible that it contains reused stuffing

This means the practice of selling a “new” mattress made from an old mattress is perfectly legal if the label identifies the filling as “reused”. If you are buying a “new” mattress in order to avoid problems with bed bugs, dust mites, mold or other problems associated with “old” mattresses, then you should read the label to determine that the “stuffing” is also new and not “reused”.

Buyer Beware.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Health, News, Pest Management, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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