Concern About Spraying

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I am deeply concerned and outraged by the mosquito spraying this town endures each year. It is harmful to our environment and to the health of our residents. While mosquitoes may be annoying, and can potentially carry West Nile virus, spraying a known carcinogen in our backyards is not the answer.

The chemical used to reduce the mosquito population, Resmethrin, is classified by the U.S. EPA as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” (1).

In addition, mosquito spraying is not effective and should be stopped. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spraying adulticides, pesticides intended to kill adult mosquitoes, is usually the least efficient mosquito-control technique (2). Adulticiding programs spray pesticides indiscriminately and do not get at the mosquitoes until they have matured. They also do not restrict, control, or prevent mosquitoes from carrying West Nile virus or from continuing to breed (3). Close to 99.9 % of sprayed chemicals go off into the environment where they can have detrimental effects on public health and ecosystems, leaving 0.10% to actually hit the target pest (4).

Chemical sprays used to control mosquitoes permanently affect the populations of those species that eat mosquitoes as the chemicals persist and accumulate in the predators’ bodies. For example, if the mosquitoes are weakened by the spray and a dragonfly eats 10 to 20 mosquitoes, the dragonfly will become seriously ill. Any bird who eats more than one dragonfly will become even sicker. Chemicals that wash into our waterways affect every species of animal including our beloved osprey.

The mosquitoes, being a species that reproduce very quickly, will undoubtedly build up a resistance to any chemical spray far quicker than a bird, fish or any person unfortunate enough to absorb them through their skin. Additionally, the populations of our native pollinators, including birds, butterflies and bumblebees are in serious decline all over Long Island.

As Port Washington News reported on July 22 in “The State of the Sound,” Hempstead Harbor received a D+ in water quality according to the Long Island Sound Eco Health Report Card. U.S. Representative Steve Israel was quoted as saying, “We need to protect the sound and the economy around it. This report card makes it clear that while progress has been made to improve the water quality, more must be done to reserve this economic engine and local treasured water and coastline.”

According to the Nassau County Health Department, as was stated on the web site last year, the health effects of the spraying are “quite low,” yet: Individuals, especially pregnant women and children, should remain inside during the treatment and for about 30 minutes afterwards. In addition, individuals may minimize exposure by:

• Keeping windows and doors shut, setting air conditioners to recirculate if able. Turn window fans off.

• Keeping children’s toys indoors.

• Keeping pets indoors, as well as their food, water dishes and toys.

• Covering fishponds during the spray period.

If the health effects are supposedly “low,” why is it suggested that pregnant women and children remain inside? Clearly there are harmful chemicals being sprayed into the air we breathe and the grass our children play on. What is deeply concerning is that residents are given poor communication, often only 24 to 48 hours to prepare for the spraying if any. This is unacceptable.

I am also confused why Sands Point does not receive any spraying. If the spraying is truly intended to protect our residents from the potential threat of the West Nile virus, why are the residents of Sands Point, with an aging population who may be particularly vulnerable, not receiving this supposed “protection?”

In most cases, residents have noticed no reduction in the mosquito population as a result of the spraying.

I urge our state, county and town officials to please put a stop to mosquito spraying and protect the health of children, adults and wildlife in our community and our economy and to tell us who is benefiting from this detrimental practice while so much is being harmed?

I encourage my fellow residents to support this effort by writing to our elected officials urging a stop to this harmful, ineffective spraying. For more info, residents may email me: lorraine@nourishbynature.com.

Thank you for your careful consideration of this matter.

Lorraine Miller, HC
Certified Health Coach and Port Washington parent


 

Footnotes:
(1) Resmethrin: Report of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee; PC Code: 097801; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticide Programs, Health Effects Division: Washington, DC, 2005; pp 1-34.
(2) CDC. 2001. Epidemic/Epizootic West Nile Virus in the United States: Revised Guidelines for Surveillance, Prevention, and Control. Atlanta, GA. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/resources/wnvguidelines2001.pdf (July 1, 2004)
(3) www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito/documents/WNVFactSheet7_26_04.php
(4) Pimentel, D. 1995. “Amounts of Pesticides Reaching Target Pests: Environmental Impacts and Ethics.” J. of Ag Environ. Ethics 8(1):17-29.

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