Pest control’s Olympic challenge

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Co-ordinating the public health and pest control issues associated with the staging of the London 2012 Olympics is a challenge of Olympian proportions in itself.

Those who attended the first anniversary lunch of Professional Women in Pest Management (PWIPM) in London’s China town on 12 March heard of the work which is being carried out to ensure a ‘safe’ London Olympics. Speaking at the gathering, Sandra Edmeade-Walters, principal environmental health officer for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, explained how she has been seconded, for the past six months, to the Joint Local Authority Regulatory Services (JLARS) as the food safety and public health co-ordinator for the host Local Authorities.

“My job is to make sure that the four Boroughs – Waltham Forest, Newham, Hackney and my own Borough, Tower Hamlets, – work with the other stakeholders, which include the Health Protection Agency and the National Health Service, to protect public health,” she said. “It’s quite a challenge,” she added.

A Public Health Steering Group has been established to facilitate communication and assess the risks.

The Olympic Park is part of a massive urban regeneration project. The Athletes’ Village, for example, is being constructed so that, with some adaptation, it will provide accommodation for local people after the event.

One of the challenges will be the large scale temporary catering on site for the games with plenty of tented facilities which are bound to have lots of gaps and voids through which pests can enter.

Sandra Edmeade-Walters
Sandra Edmeade-Walters

There will also be water features across the park presnting another risk. With climate change mosquitoes are a possible concern. Bedbugs have also been identified as a potential problem.

“At the moment we are in the construction phase so the feeding arrangements for the construction staff have been the main public health issue,” she said. “But going forward we need a cohesive approach. The PCOs in the host boroughs are eager to get onto the site so that they can start to assess the risks and make plans to deal with them. They can only do this once the construction phase is completed which will be towards the end of the year.”

PWIPM group
Pictured at the PWIPM event are: speaker Pippa Codling from Ecolab, who talked about her experiences
in the industry she loves, and Killgerm”s Sabra Fearon who chaired the meeting with Sandra Edmeade-Walters.

The PWIPM meeting was generously sponsored by Pest Control News

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