Our organization, Concerned Citizens for Safer Mosquito Control, which worked with the city of Dallas in 2002 to create a safer, more preventative approach to mosquito abatement, would like to express our concern regarding calls for aerial spraying by some city and county officials. While we are pleased that the Dallas County Commissioners and the Dallas County Health Department have demonstrated restraint and caution in response to pressure to aerial spray, we are deeply concerned to learn that some local officials continue to call for aerial spraying.
We ask you to continue to carefully consider the inherent risks to blanketing a densely-populated urban environment with aerial sprayed pesticides, which have a precedent for creating a greater public health threat than West Nile.
In New York, which was the first U.S. city to face the threat of West Nile, aerial spraying in 2000 led to more reported injuries from pesticide exposures than cases of West Nile infection, a disturbing outcome for any measure intended to curb public health threats. Injured New York citizens as well as city spray applicators filed lawsuits seeking redress from injuries caused by aerial spraying.
The lobstermen association settled a multimillion dollar suit after the lobster population was completely decimated following the spraying.
In 2008, the state of California also faced similar lawsuits to halt aerial spraying that led to over 400 reports of pesticide injury and thousands of complaints by citizens experiencing negative health effects from the spraying, which was ultimately halted after a commissioned health report by state agencies found that the spraying had indeed caused negative health effects in some individuals.
Local citizens have been affected by West Nile spraying in Texas, including several electric line workers who were accidentally sprayed by city trucks and rendered disabled by the pesticide exposure. Their treating physician spoke before this city council in the expert panel we facilitated to present before the city, which advised the council of the public health and legal risks of more broad-based spraying.
When working with the city on this issue in 2000, our organization contracted with a former EPA expert and entomologist who drafted a proposed policy recommending only “targeted” as opposed to truck or aerial spraying and only as a last-resort option. He explained that targeted spraying of culverts and known breeding sites at dusk successfully hits most mosquitoes when they are active earlier in the day as well as in their known breeding sites as opposed to expansive truck based spraying and even worse aerial spraying at night, which misses most mosquitoes and their breeding areas and increases the risk of hitting unintended targets like people, animals as well as predator insects that help keep the mosquito population under control.
In fact, post spraying studies have shown that mosquito populations quickly rebound to pre-spray levels after aerial spraying. When areas of Louisiana were sprayed following Hurricane Katrina, mosquito populations rebounded to pre-spray levels within three days in part due to the decimation of natural predator insects from expansive aerial spraying,
Experts widely agree that aerial spraying is ineffective, with as little as 1% of mosquitoes being hit by the spraying according to Cornell University entomologist David Pimentel. Furthermore, areal spraying is much more likely to hit unintended targets than even truck-based spraying and dramatically increases the city’s liability as a result. Sadly, many of the people injured by pesticide spraying never know the source of the injury as acknowledged by the New York Department of Health that stated that likely even more people were injured by the spraying than was noted in 2000, which led to the department instituting a West Nile pesticide spraying injury surveillance program. Pesticide exposure tends to trigger non specific symptoms that doctors and affected individuals are often unlikely to attribute to pesticides.
Furthermore, many of the health effects can be slow progressing and chronic. For instance the pyrethroid pesticides used in Dallas’ abatement program are known endocrine disrupters and neurotoxins that have been associated with cancer as well as autoimmune-type conditions.
In spite of spraying pesticides with known human health risks, the city continues to state spraying is “safe,” which is expressly prohibited by federal law since pesticides are designed to kill or harm living things. In fact, the pyrethroid pesticide the city is using, like all pesticides, is anything but safe and is considered a central nervous system poison. Immediate toxic exposure from permethrin can lead to skin and eye irritation, skin rashes, inflammation, numbing, tingling, itching, burning sensation, salivation, headache, dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, nerve damage, seizures, twitching, incoordination, as well as irritability to sound and touch at extremely high doses. While it is often noted that many of the effects of pyrethroid exposure may manifest as short-term symptoms, studies of pesticide injured individuals have shown that pyrethroid exposure can progress to chronic, long-term symptoms including cerebro-organic disorders, sensomotor-polyneuropathy, vegetative nervous disorders and autoimmune-like disease. Though the human health threats have yet to be fully quantified, studies with lab animals have linked pyrethroid exposure to damage of the thyroid, liver and nervous system, as well as impairment of behavioral development and immune system disruption, which are findings relevant to human health since pyrethroids act on aspects of the nervous system common to all animals. We are also concerned about the consideration to escalate to stronger chemicals that have even more toxic human effects than pyrethroids and would only lead to a never-ending cycle of increasingly more pesticide resistance, a common problem in communities that spray heavily and escalate to increasingly more toxic compounds.
To improve the likelihood of better surveillance of pesticide injury, our group is planning to run advertisements in local print media advising residents of known health effects associated with exposure to pesticides used by the city in its mosquito abatement plan and instruct them in how to report injuries and seek redress. Members of our organization have also retained legal representation to explore pre-emptive options in addressing the city’s consideration of aerial spraying and are seeking open records requests to determine whether the city has contracted with an aerial spray applicator so that they applicator can be advised of the legal liability of proceeding.
We are as concerned about the public health threat of West Nile as the city and county and encourage those local officials to utilize the safest, most effective abatement strategies by refocusing their efforts on aggressive prevention through education, code enforcement and larvaciding while utilizing spraying in an extremely targeted manner as recommended by leading experts in the field. These are the measures that have been deemed most effective by the CDC, as opposed to truck and aerial spraying, which are considered the least efficient way for controlling mosquitoes. The city and county have an opportunity to learn from and avoid the mistakes of cities that have injured their residents with aerial spraying initiatives.
At the same time, we also have the opportunity to emulate the successes of surrounding cities like Arlington and Fort Worth that have opted for safer and more effective preventative programs to manage West Nile in their communities without the use of truck or aerial spraying.
Concerned Citizens for Safer Mosquito Control
This petition closed over 3 years ago
To: City of Dallas and Other Municipalities
West Nile Virus is the most overblown health threat since the "killer bees." Yes, people have gotten sick and a few have even died from WNV, but people...
To: City of Dallas and Other Municipalities
West Nile Virus is the most overblown health threat since the "killer bees." Yes, people have gotten sick and a few have even died from WNV, but people need to try to put things into perspective. Unfortunately, a few people have died this year from WNV, but thousands of people have died from asthma and other respiratory diseases.
The city of Dallas and other metropolitan areas across the country are implementing an erroneous plan of action. These cities have listened to the chemical pushers under the misconception that spraying toxic chemicals is helpful in controlling the mosquitoes.
Spraying toxic chemical pesticides, known generically as synthetic pyrethroids, has been the primary recommendation. Besides being toxic, this procedure doesn't work. An adult mosquito spray program conducted late at night, as is usually done, misses the primary activity time of the pests. It also sprays or fogs down streets primarily affecting front yards of residential property.
There are tremendously larger numbers of people who die from asthma and other respiratory diseases. Even the experts who push the toxic spraying admit that the pyrethrum and pyrethroid products adversely affect those with allergies and can actually cause those problems.
Spraying toxic chemicals for the control of mosquitoes is a waste of money, an unnecessary assault on people, pets and the environment – plus it simply doesn't work. There are very few adult mosquitoes flying around early in the morning when the spraying is done plus there is a good argument that the spraying actually increases the mosquito problem by killing beneficial insects such as dragonflies that help control mosquitoes.
Rational, effective control of mosquitoes results from removing or treating stagnant water with biological products, horticultural oils or gambusia fish and wearing non-toxic repellents on the skin.
If spraying the air to try to repel or kill adult biting mosquitoes is required, there are highly effective non-toxic alternatives. They include garlic oil, cedar oil, mint oil, orange oil, and cinnamon – just to mention a few. And yes, there is university research on these products and techniques.
EFFECTIVE NON-TOXIC MOSQUITO CONTROL
Seeing and hearing the reports from all the interviews I did yesterday and this morning, I have realized that folks aren't "getting it" that I'm not saying "don't treat" - I'm saying treat correctly with a program that's more cost effective works.
Mosquitoes can be controlled and it doesn't have to be dangerous. The effective and non-toxic site management program for mosquito control is:
1. Empty standing water where possible. Even small containers such as pot saucers, old tires, soda bottles and cans hold enough water for mosquito breeding.
2. Treat water that cannot be emptied such as drain lines and sewers with (Bti - Bacillus thuringiensis 'Israelensis') products such as Mosquito Dunks, Mosquito Bits or Bactimos Briquettes. Surface standing water can be treated the same way or with gambusia mosquito fish.
3. Homeowners can spray to kill adult mosquitoes with plant oil pesticides such as Earth Harvest, Avenger, and EcoSMART. Pest control operators can use EcoEXEMPT. Garlic sprays work well to repel the insects for up to 30 days. Even better, broadcast dry minced garlic to the site at 1-2 lbs. per 1000 square feet. Bonide Mosquito Beater Granules is another good commercial dry product.
4. Use organic landscape management to encourage birds, bats, fish, dragonflies and other beneficial insects.
5. Use skin repellents that contain natural repellent herbs such as aloe vera, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, lavender, vanilla, citronella and other helpful herbs. The Center for Disease Control now recommends lemon eucalyptus. Taking a vitamin B complex daily also seems to help greatly. DEET products should not be used, especially on children – as is stated on the label.
Visit www.dirtdoctor.com for information on mosquitoes and other insects.