Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chemical Fog

I find it ironic that I can hear the whine of the mosquito spray trucks, belching a thick cloud of chemicals on every surface in my town, just as I start this post. While my city's mission statement tells me that they will look out for my health, safety and welfare, I am made to feel otherwise when they send out the following newsflash notifying me of their intent to spray the chemical Anvil for mosquito control this evening:
PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT Notice of Scheduled Adult Mosquito Insecticide Spraying
Please be advised that the City, utilizing the services of Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management Inc., will be implementing a citywide application of insecticide during the period from dusk to dawn tonight, Wednesday, July 30, 2008.
The City and Clarke Utilize a Synthetic Pyrethroid named ANVIL for purposes of controlling the adult mosquito population. ANVIL is safe to humans if applied in strict conformance with the product labeling. Those individuals with asthma and other respiratory conditions are advised to stay indoors with windows closed during and at least 1 hour following the misting application.
ANVIL is applied by Ultra Low Volume (ULV) misting equipment that accurately controls the size of the droplets (50 microns) and the application rates (0.21 to 0.62 of an ounce of ANVIL per acre).
The only conditions that will cause a re-scheduling of the ULV application are the presence of precipitation, high winds or temperatures at the time of application below 55 degrees F. Should a re-scheduling of the ULV application be required, please check the City Web Page for current status.
The only way that residents of our town are told about this mosquito spraying is if they sign up for notification via email. Many many are unaware of this program and are kept in the dark. When I first moved to town, I did not know about the spraying program, and would wake up to the sound of the spray trucks, chemical smell drifting into my windows. I would rush around closing all of the windows, fearing for my son who has asthma. Sometimes this spraying is done on beautiful Friday nights when many citizens of my town are out walking their dog or enjoying an evening on their patio.
I talked to the mayor about the spraying program and he told me that most people don't question it. Instead, he hears from them a day or so after the spraying, complaining that they still have mosquitoes at their house. I am shocked at what people will expose themselves to in order to live in a sanitized environment. Don't they get it that we are all connected, if we kill the mosquitoes, we are also killing ourselves?
Beyond Pesticides, , a national coalition against the misuse of pesticides, provides the following information on their website in regard to the spraying of Anvil for mosquito control. This piece talks about the dangers of Anvil exposure and also the ineffectiveness of the chemical in controlling mosquitoes.
Beyond Today , an Organization for Chicagoans who want to do more about the environment and social justice placed the following information on their website about the spraying of Anvil for mosquito control:

“Anvil is a pesticide sprayed on Chicago neighborhoods as an attempt to reduce West Nile Mosquitoes.
Beyond Today has opposed the spray due to research showing the spray is ineffective and dangerous.
Here are some of the concerns that Beyond Today community members and organizers have expressed:
-Inadequate notice of the spray has lead to overexposure. Residents are literally sprayed in the face as they cross streets walking babies, bicycling, or eat in sidewalk cafes.
-Research shows the spray is ineffective. Even studies completed by the pesticide companies themselves claim less than a 75% kill rate. Mosquitoes emerge from standing water the next day.
-The standing water removal program is not apparent. 311 calls to remove standing water are ignored.
-The spray contains a carcinogen and other chemicals which are endocrine disruptors and have not yet been adequately studied. This category of insecticide, the synthetic pyrethroids, has been making headlines as new studies reveal alarming correlations with many illnesses. We should not spray this on our children until long term studies show the spray is safe.
-The spray is toxic to bees, fish, and all aquatic life.
-The spray is toxic to dragonflies, which are the mosquito's natural predator. When the mosquito's predators are killed, there is an explosion in the mosquito population and the demand for more spraying.
-The pesticide lobby has paid lobbyists to run op-ed pieces in Chicago papers claiming that environmentalists care more about bugs than people. The only company making money from the spray is Clarke Chemical, therefore, they likely fund this effort.”
I feel pretty helpless about all this, especially when I hear from my mayor that nobody questions the spraying. Sometimes all of the damage we are doing to our environment just feels so overwhelming...


Cateepoo said...

I like the new look of your blog!

Darcy said...

Thanks! You may have checked on it when I was in the middle of moving things around. I discovered that I could add a picture to the header and switch around the colors and even change the template. I about drove myself crazy with all the variables.