Don’t Spray Me! events

If you can’t see the calendar above, click here. See also the Chesco Environment Calendar here.


Health Dept. wants to spray West Chester

And we don’t want them to. Stay tuned.

Download the Health Dept. announcement here: West Chester Spray 8-16-18

We keep having to point out that the phrase “to prevent West Nile Virus” in the press release title makes no sense. The West Nile virus is carried in birds, especially crows, and then is picked up by mosquitoes that bite the birds, and those same mosquitoes can then bite people. But the transmission chain to humans must be really weak, because this whole year PA has had only one possible identified human case, not definitely verified and not critical.

About this particular spray plan: Note from the maps below that the proposed spray area would include almost all of the S. half of the Borough and most of the NE (including Marshall Square Park, where the Borough fended off spraying 3 years ago).

The County Health Department’s press release says: “People who are concerned about exposure to mosquito control products can reduce their potential for exposure by staying indoors with children and pets when their neighborhood is being sprayed.” That is a very low-level warning. Of course, everyone ought to be concerned about any pesticide being directly sprayed on them or infiltrating their dwellings.

But how does that advice play out in an urban area like downtown West Chester? What will people here be doing on a Thursday eve, other than sitting at home with their children and pets?

Although spraying is not scheduled right on Market and Gay Streets, it would pass really close to them, and of course spray drifts. Are people enjoying their outside drink or dinner in the center of town going to have methoprene drifting onto them and their food and into their lungs? Is West Chester going to earn the reputation of a place to avoid patronizing?

If just one hypersensitive person dining outside or inadvertently walking through the spray area has a serious adverse reaction, or one small asthmatic child in tow has to be rushed to the ER, that is going to be big liability. For whom?

For the County, which does the spraying? (Let’s be clear: the County decides when to spray, not the State.) The restaurant owner who could be said to have the duty to close down outdoors for the evening? The Business Improvement District, unless it acts to get downtown closed off? The Borough, if it does not make the decision to close the parking garages and post warning signs? This is a real morass. It’s not like spraying a rural area where houses are 500 feet apart with long driveways.

How about West Chester University? The whole campus north of Rosedate is in the spray area. Are all the students going to be told to stay in their rooms from 8 p.m. till the next day? How about those coming back from an off-campus job or the Library?

The Health Department really has not thought this through. If they wanted to make a more reasonable case, they would be proposing to spray only in the immediate vicinity of what are apparently the 3 trap sites with high readings: College Ave at the pumping station, Green Field, and Magnolia St.

The Health Department releases its info selectively to make its own pro-spraying case. Where are the other 28 traps in the Borough? What are their readings? Why do they want to spray the NE but not the NW? It’s full of mysteries, and that’s the way they seem to want it. But we don’t. “Trust us” doesn’t work any more, and especially now that Chester County has become all too familiar with the PA DEP, which is the state resource on both pipelines and mosquitoes.

When Don’t Spray Me! filed a Right To Know request, the Health Department said it did not know where it larvicided in 2015-17; and they also say they don’t have time to tell us where they larvicided this year. They say they spray only “after exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies” and they don’t even know where they have larvicided, which is the most effective anti-mosquito treatment in known breeding sites like storm drains and stagnant bodies of water?

If the HD can’t do better to explain its actions and consider the effects on a complex urban population, it needs to be stopped until there is greater accountability in the interest of the public and the environment.

NE West Chester:


Southern half of West Chester:

Dragonflies eat mosquitoes

Larvae eat larvae, adults eat adults. Yes, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Dragonflies and mosquitoes both live as adults for only a couple of weeks. But dragonflies spend several months or even years in the larval phase and mosquitoes only several days.

If you kill off the adults of both species, which will bounce back faster?

Mosquitoes, obviously, because their eggs, larvae, and pupae will all become adults in a few days, while those phases of dragonflies are still stuck in the water.

So an indiscriminate pesticide helps mosquitoes by knocking out a slower-breeding predator!

For a 50-minute video on the life and history of the drangonfly, see YouTube. Still from that video showing dragonfly larva about to munch into a mosquito larva:

Some basics

We in Don’t Spray Me! are in favor of scientific knowledge.

We would like public officials to share more background information with the public.

We find it disrespectful of taxpayers and residents when public employees do not reveal information that they should have, even when we file Right To Know requests as specified by state law.

How does the Health Department decide when and where to spray pesticides on private and public spaces?

How does it implement its promise of “exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies” before spraying?

Where has the County been applying larvicide (the most effective means of mosquito control)?

The short answer we keep getting is: no answer. But we will get answers, because we believe in an informed public active in asserting its rights against policies whose own implementers cannot or do not care to justify them.

In case you are wondering: spell “larvicide” or “larvacide,” “mosquitoes” or “mosquitos.”

“Spraying” refers to an air-borne mist, spread by trucks in streets in the case of mosquito control in inhabited areas, that kills adult insects (not eggs, larvae, or pupae) that happen to fly into its droplets and can harm others like amphibians, fish, and cats.

“Larviciding” involves dropping in standing water a biological agent that kills mosquito larvae right where they are growing; larvicide is harmless to people and other organisms (except another pest insect species).

Don’t Spray Me! wants more larviciding and less spraying!

Against spraying

By a West Chester resident, 8/13/18

I just heard that the Chester County Health Department is planning to do mosquito spraying in much of the Borough this Thursday night (rain date on Monday night). You can find the press release at the County site once they upload it. It was emailed to me.

I am concerned about the spraying from a human and animal health perspective as well as from an environmental perspective. I am involved with a grassroots organization, Don’t Spray Me!, that has been expressing concern about the spraying for years.

Some things that have been uncovered are (and this is just some of what has been discovered):

1. They use a highly toxic pesticide that environmental groups have on their black list.

2. The research on the use of this pesticide has shown that it is highly ineffective as it only kills adult mosquitoes (and the eggs are still able to hatch) whose life cycle is only 2 weeks. The pesticide does harm and kill other beneficial creatures (like bats) that keep the mosquitoes in check. We should leave it up to Mother Nature to keep things in balance.

3. Most counties in PA and other states don’t have a spray program and they don’t have outbreaks of West Nile.

4. When this quadrant was sprayed about 6 years ago, the man who was driving the truck spraying admitted that he didn’t follow the manufacturer’s directions and he sprayed a higher concentration (he went up and down both streets and alleys) and they didn’t cover playground equipment or shut off the spray near water sources (like the manufacturer of the pesticide recommends). I am concerned that the pesticide was not applied safely or according to protocol.

5. We have questioned repeatedly how the Health Department determines their vector index (which is what they use to determine if they will spray or not). Our statistician has found many holes in their calculations and never gets an answer when asked. We recently found out that the man who calculates vector indices is no longer working at the Chester County Health Department.

6. We have repeatedly asked the Health Department to larvacide in areas that we know are an issue like the College Avenue Pumping Station. That is a non-toxic and effective way to address the mosquito population. They do not tell us what they do larvacide.

7. The pesticide is mixed with a catalyst which allows it to stick to the surfaces and therefore stick around for months, and some say for a year. I don’t want that on our streets, on our lawns, and then tracked into our houses. I wouldn’t eat vegetables from a garden after a spray.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. No one can argue that pesticides are safe. I think the general public is more concerned about autoimmune diseases and cancer than West Nile. Did you hear that a man who sued Monsanto was just awarded $289 million dollars because it was proved that his health issues were the result of using Round Up? And there are 4,000 more cases in the pipeline. People are waking up and fighting to protect themselves.

Don’t Spray Me! isn’t saying don’t protect us from West Nile but we are advocating for non-toxic and effective solutions!

If you feel the same way about this issue, you can take 3 actions:

1. Call and email Jeanne Casner, Director of the Chester County Health Department at 610-344-6225, TODAY!

2. Attend a meeting: Borough Council is holding an emergency meeting Tuesday, August 14th, to hear public comments and make a plan. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Spellman Building (the previous location of West Chester School District Administration Offices), 829 Paoli Pike.

3. Share this message and the importance of attending the meeting with anyone you know.

Court Orders E.P.A. to Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems

By Eric Lipton, New York Times, Aug. 9, 2018

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to bar within 60 days a widely used pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children, dealing the industry a major blow after it had successfully lobbied the Trump administration to reject a ban.

The order by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came after a decade-long effort by environmental and public health groups to get the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, removed from the market. The product is used in more than 50 fruit, nut, cereal and vegetable crops including apples, almonds, oranges and broccoli, with more than 640,000 acres treated in California alone in 2016, the most recent year data is available.

In March 2017, just a month after he was confirmed as the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt rejected a petition by the health and environmental groups to ban the pesticide. He did so even though the agency’s own staff scientists had recommended that chlorpyrifos be removed from the market, based on health studies that had suggested it was harming children, particularly among farmworker families.

A three-judge panel, on a 2-to-1 vote, gave the agency two months to finalize the ban on the product, whose leading manufacturer is DowDuPont….

read more at New York Times

Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Parkesburg Borough to prevent West Nile Virus

[Note: we have often wondered how a pesticide can “prevent” a virus when it can’t even “prevent” mosquitoes. Note on the active ingredient deltamethrin from Wikipedia: “Resistance has been characterised in several insects, including important vectors of malaria like the mosquito Anopheles gambiae as well as non-disease carrying pests like bed bugs.” That is one of the problems with any pesticide: insects can become resistant to anything! Because of acquired resistance, Permanone (previously used in Chesco) could not be used in Miami during the recent Zika scare. If you live in the spray area, see how you can help us here.]

from Chesco Health Department pdf

West Chester, PA – The Chester County Health Department will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of Parkesburg (see map below). The treatment is scheduled for Thursday, August 9th from 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm. The rain date for this event is Monday, August 13th from 8:00pm to 11:30pm.

The Chester County Health Department conducts mosquito control treatment in areas with high levels of mosquito activity and where multiple mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). After exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies, spraying is conducted to reduce residents’ risk of WNV infection. Anyone living in an area where mosquitoes are infected with WNV is at risk, but the risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities. Less than 1% of people infected will develop serious illness. While serious illness can occur in people of any age, people over 60 years of age, people who have received organ transplants, and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are at the greatest risk for serious illness.

The Chester County Health Department uses a truck-mounted sprayer to apply .66 ounces of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product (DeltaGard) per acre of land….

read more in the Chesco Health Department pdf

Case studies in what to avoid

Above-ground pools are often forgotten or abandoned and are perfect hosts for organic matter and, consequently, mosquito families. (In-ground pools usually have enough chemicals to deter mosquito breeding, but beware of water accumulating on pool covers!)

Puddle dug by cars at the edge of the road. If it stays wet for 7 days, it will be productive!

Clogged eave about 7 feet off the ground, easily accessible to mosquitoes (they will fly much higher too). The obstruction at the far end (the low end, over the downpipe unless there is a construcvtion error) needs to be cleared regularly.

Looking down this grill over a storm drain, you can see sky reflected back to you from water standing at the bottom. A beacon to egg-laying mosquitoes!

Trash can lid with larvae
Overturned trash lids can hold water. Lids should be tightly affixed to containers at all times in order to keep out water and other common pests like rats.


Flat roof syndrome. For some reason architects or builders can’t always figure out drainage, or else the roof sags over time. Yes, mosquitoes fly pretty high. If the roof retains water for a week after eggs are laid, the roof is a breeding site!

The risks outweigh the benefits

by George Squire CRNP, Active member of DSM

We have noted in recent months that the risks outweigh the benefits when it come to spraying for mosquitoes.

Chemical sensitivity in humans and animals can be deadly when sprays are used indiscriminately. The entire planet becomes the target for such spraying. Infinitely preferable is the use of preventative measures such as BT larvicide which has proved very effective in stopping mosquitoes before they hatch.

As in the field of Medicine, prevention is the key to effective control of this problem. Over the past decade, Medicine has moved toward an evidence-based approach, which has produced some sound research-based science. The data from the use of pesticide and herbicidal sprays has been sadly lacking regarding any potential benefit from their use. Unfortunately, we will always be able to count on the lobbying on behalf of the chemical companies to propagandize us about the benign nature of their products. Their desire for increased profit will continue to skew the public’s understanding of the true nature of these chemicals.

A friend from St Peter’s Village who is a beekeeper and maintains a garden there, has noticed a drastic decline in his bees and other beneficial insects. A steady drop off like this in bees and other beneficial creatures could lead to an agricultural disaster for consumers and farmers alike. Future untold problems could arise with shortages in fruits and vegetables, not to mention farm animals and pets that may eat the poisoned crops.

Let us appeal to our public servants assigned to these tasks. Let us ask them to put their constituents first and make our neighborhoods safer, and maintain the constitutional right to happiness. Let us remind them that there are alternatives to using poison in our water and on our land.