Washington, D.C. officials have begun to use dry ice as a new method to combat the District’s growing rat population, according to Gerard Brown, the program manager of the D.C. Department of Health’s rodent control division, earlier this month.

There was a 64 percent surge in rat sightings and complaints filed by D.C. residents to the 311 city services helpline in 2016. With the city’s rat population reaching a four-year high, the D.C. DOH continues to look for new ways to kill the rodents.

Its latest tool is dry ice, or the frozen form of carbon dioxide, which will be used in conjunction with the poison that city officials currently use in their pest control efforts. Dry ice suffocates the rats when it is placed in their nests, according to Brown.

WILL CROMARTY/THE HOYA D.C. officials are encouraging D.C. residents to purchase dry ice to kill the rodents, touting the agent’s relatively low price and ease of use.

“It’s just going to be another tool in our toolbox,” Brown said to The Washington Post on Jan. 3. “The CO2 that emanates from the dry ice suffocates the rats, and their homes become their graves.”

Despite Georgetown University’s rat population being similar to that of the District, there have been fewer calls for pest control this year, Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey told The Hoya in October. Morey attributed this trend to Georgetown’s improved response to the rodents.

Still, Georgetown students have expressed concern on social media regarding rat sightings in O’Donovan Hall and in residence halls in recent weeks. A post in an online Facebook group showing rats running around the second floor of Leo’s garnered 613 likes Jan. 13.

Planning and Facilities Management did not immediately respond to The Hoya’s request for a comment on whether Georgetown’s campus will begin to use dry ice.

The use of dry ice is part of an ongoing initiative by the D.C. DOH to combat the growing rat population. Previously, the District installed solar trash cans at a cost of $85,000 per year in areas where rats are found in high numbers.

According to D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), new control initiatives are important, but the greater focus should be on keeping trash contained.

“We need [DOH] to be going as aggressive as they can,” Allen told The Washington Post on Jan. 3. “But it comes down to managing our trash the right way not having food waste that is out in the alley.”

Officials are encouraging D.C. residents to purchase dry ice to kill the rodents, touting the agent’s relatively low price and ease of use. Tommy Wells, director of the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, noted that dogs and cats are unlikely to consume the substance, making it a pet-friendly option.

Stephanie Bell, the senior director of cruelty casework for pro-animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said that dry ice is a better pest control option than many other common methods.

“[It’s] more humane than certain poisons and backbreaking or suffocating sticky glue traps,” Bell told The Washington Post on Jan. 3.

As D.C. begins to use dry ice to control the rat population in the District, officials hope to remove D.C. from the “Pest-iest States” list compiled by Terminix, which ranked Washington first in 2017.

Regardless of whether Georgetown University decides to use dry ice, it is very clear that students are not welcoming of their furry neighbors.

“Nothing’s worse than coming back from a late night in [Lauinger Library] and seeing a rat run through the lobby of your building,” Peter Hunziker (MSB ’20) wrote in an email to The Hoya.

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One Comment

  1. This is so interesting and useful blog everything you know dry ice used dc pest control efforts. This is really a informative blog for all peoples who wants to know about this. Thanks for sharing with us.

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