In yesterday's City Room Blog, Sewell Chan highlights the report, issued on behalf of the pest control industry, that rates New York as the leading rat city in the United States. As Chan points Out: "In an 11-page research paper [pdf] financed by the pest-control industry, the two men looked at 32 large American cities and concluded that New York is the city most at risk of rodent infestations."
We reviewed the paper but were unable to really get a handle on all of the risk factors that led the two researchers to rate NYC so highly on the rat scale. In general, there is a whole list of variables but getting past the categories to a more comprehensive understanding of the whys and wherefores of the rat attack isn't easy. The closest we get to some kind of a smoking gun is the observation that New York's age and high population density is a key factor.
Now we have commented on all of this before, and while we had no idea that NYC was as highly rated as the two researchers believe, we did know that we have a serious problem that contributes to the spread of disease. We also know that the city has an important weapon that it can use in the fight against the rat infestation: food waste disposers.
The use of disposers, currently illegal for food stores and restaurants, would go along way towards limiting the food source that allows the rat population to grow. In turn, the city would be able to dramatically improve the public health in all New York neighborhoods. In addition, the reduction of food waste would lead to the reduction in the number of noxious transfer stations that plague many inner city communities.
As Reuters points out, quoting one of the report's authors, cities need to be proactive: "Kaukeinen said the 2007 Rodent Risk Assessment, which was sponsored by rodent control brand d-CON, would be used to urge cities to spend more on taking a pro-active approach against rats." We know of no more proactive approach than the implementation of a commercial food waste disposer program.