The Hidden Allergy Trigger to Avoid in Multifamily

allergy trigger


They are a marketing nightmare for any rental property, no matter the class and size. Their antennae are unsightly and certainly won’t pick up a cell phone signal. Some are very social and seek common shelter. They are considered dirty and offensive, enough that renters will move in a heartbeat if they are not extricated from the property.

When they scurry, some tend to jump from their shoes. Fly swatters, rolled up newspapers and sneakers are common weapons to wipe out this seemingly untouchable nuisance.

Cockroaches are just gross.

Cockroaches may most common cause of year-round allergies and asthma

A relative of termites, cockroaches are armed in numbers and date to the Carboniferous period of about 320 million years ago. They spread nearly 33 kinds of bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella, six parasitic worms and more than seven other types of human pathogens, according to the National Pest Management Association.

What many people don’t know is that cockroaches may be responsible for that sneeze or sniffle. They are known to cause problems for asthma and allergy sufferers. Their saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies contain allergen proteins known to trigger symptoms, especially in children.

Along with the dust mite, cockroaches may be the most common cause of year-round allergy and asthma, says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Cockroach and dust mite waste and body cause allergic reaction and can trigger asthma symptoms and attacks.

allergy trigger

63 percent of homes have detectable levels of cockroach allergens

Allergies are increasing, affecting as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the United States, AAFA says. Also, the Centers for Disease Control says one in 14 people or about 24 million Americans have asthma − 7.4 percent of adults and 8.6 percent of children.

Asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s and causes 2 million emergency room visits each year. It’s the third-leading cause of hospital stays in children.

Based on CDC statistics, it’s a good bet that many of your residents are allergy and asthma sufferers. Eliminating a source like cockroaches makes sense.

But even though your apartment units may appear cockroach free, check again. AAFA reports that 63 percent of homes have detectable levels of cockroach allergens and that number increases in more densely populated, metropolitan areas.

“Keeping a pest-free home is essential to keeping your family healthy − and cockroaches hiding in the home may be more common than you think,” said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “Cockroaches are a health hazard and need to be handled immediately.”

The kitchen is natural hangout for cockroaches. Food crumbs, spoiled food and open containers left on the counter or in the trash are natural attractors.

Tips to control cockroaches around the property

The NPMA offers several tips for cockroach control that property managers can pass along to residents, as well as administer around the leasing office and common areas:

  1. Keep apartments – especially the kitchen and bathrooms – free of crumbs and debris
  2. Vacuum frequently
  3. Disinfect counters and food surfaces
  4. Do not let dirty dishes pile up in the sink
  5. Take out trash frequently, and store in a sealed receptacle
  6. Transfer open boxed food items from cardboard into sturdy, sealed containers
  7. Throw away foods that have passed their expiration dates
  8. Keep pet food in a sealed container and wash pet bowls frequently
  9. Reduce moisture by repairing leaks or installing a dehumidifier in damp spaces

Some argue that cockroaches play a vital role in the earth’s lifecycle, despite their reputation for being filthy and disgusting. They provide food for other species and release nitrogen into soil that promotes plant growth, say biologists.

But for many, the best part about cockroaches is being miles from them.


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

One response to “The Hidden Allergy Trigger to Avoid in Multifamily”

  1. AR Stephens says:

    You can never have too much info on how to combat these pesky buggars.

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