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State pulls license for exterminator
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A Rincon day care had a close call after a pest control company improperly sprayed for fleas on their premises.

On June 22 Lisa Yekel, owner of I’ll Be Your Best Friend Academy, was informed by a teacher that there were fleas in the infant room. Yekel called East Coast Exterminating Company of Savannah about five minutes later to ask for someone to come out and spray.

She had been using the company since opening the facility in August 2006.

Asked if she ever had any problems with them before, Yekel responded, “Oh no, ’cause they normally come at 6:15 (when the day care is closed),” she explained.

An exterminator came by and sprayed the same day she called since he was already in the area. Yekel and her full-time nurse on staff asked him when they would be able to let the children return to the room. He first told them the infants could return after an hour; he later changed that to less than an hour.

About two hours after he sprayed, Yekel received a call from the state Department of Agriculture. Later that same day, an employee of the state office came by wanting to see the records of what was sprayed.

Yekel provided him with her records, however, they did not list which chemical was used.

According to the administrative order issued by the agriculture department, the chemical used to kill the fleas, Cynoff WP, is only supposed to be sprayed outdoors.

Furthermore, East Coast Exterminating Company was cited for the following violations: failure to provide the pesticide use statement, permitting children to enter the treated area a short time after application, failure to apply the chemical only if children will not be in the area for at least three hours and failure to note when application began and when it ended.

As a result of the violations Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin immediately revoked the business license and certification of owner Jeffrey Keith Smith.

“I made this revocation immediate due to the grave nature of these violation. They constitute a significant threat to the safety and welfare of children and infants,” Irvin said in a release.

Smith was given 10 days to request a hearing. His attorney, Jay Barber of Decker, Hallman, Barber and Briggs in Atlanta, said that his client has already filed a written request for a hearing. Failure to do so would have made the administrative order final.

Barber would not comment any further on his client’s case.

Yekel said that to her knowledge none of the infants have become sick as a result of the application. Prior to this incident there have never been fleas at the day care. Another child brought in the fleas in this instance.

She was referred to East Coast Exterminating by a parent who attends the same church as Smith.

Yekel has treated the whole matter as a learning experience, but that is not to say she isn’t unhappy with the situation.

“Everybody asked him if it was fine. I understand he was new, but he should have known,” she said about the exterminator who sprayed.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a checklist to consider when choosing a pest control company.

• Make sure the company is licensed

• Are the employees bonded, meaning you will be reimbursed for any loss or damages

• Is the company willing and able to discuss the treatment proposed for your home

This information should include: pests to target, extent of the problem, active ingredient(s) in pesticide chosen, potential negative health effects of active ingredient(s), form of pesticide, application techniques, non-chemical alternatives that are available, special instructions to reduce exposure to pesticide, steps to minimize pest problems in the future.

• Does the company have a good reputation

• Ask friends and neighbors if they have used them before

• Check the Better Business Bureau to find out if they ever received complaints about the company

• Does the company have adequate insurance

• Is their work guaranteed

• Is the company affiliated with a professional pest control association

• For more information on pesticides, visit www.epa.gov/pesticides/