Picnic & celebrate with DSM and Sierra Club on Sunday May 28

Please  join us our season-opening Dontsprayme / Sierra Club celebration in Everhart Park at 4-6 p.m. on Sunday May 28.

As in September, we’ll have various displays (like the ever-popular bat houses), environmental games, and (new this  year) music and bike-decorating.

What do we have to celebrate?

– A 2016 summer of fewer mosquitoes and no spraying in West Chester

– Branching out in neighboring communities.

– Renewed consciousness of people standing up to threats against environmental and human health in American life today.

We’ll also be  bringing you up to date on plans for pushing back both mosquitoes and pesticides this summer and other measures to defend our environment.

If you didn’t receive the invitation with further details, please contact us by emailing Margaret Hudgings or calling 610-692-3849.

Scene from our Sept 4,  2016 picnic:

DSM mourns the loss of Graham Hudgings

The Don’t Spray Me community was devastated by the recent death of Graham Hudgings, who for almost half his life had struggled against the results of chemical-induced poisoning and resulting hypersensitivity not only to pesticides and herbicides but also to chemicals to which most of us pay inadequate attention, such as those found in household cleaners, paints, and perfumes.

Graham has been an inspiration to all of us concerned about environmental contamination. If chemicals could have such tragic effects on even one person, how many more of us are being affected in less noticeable ways? As disorders like autism, allergies,  and auto-immune diseases continue to increase in the American population, how do we know that exposure to chemicals, even at low levels, is not to blame, especially in children, who are always less resistant? As species die out, can we trace their mortality to chemical exposure, remembering that DDT spraying as an insecticide came very close to exterminating our own national bird, the bald eagle?

At Don’t Spray Me, we have carved out for ourselves the niche of preventing unnecessary airborne spraying to kill mosquitoes, since exposure to a 2012 spraying in his home town caused Graham to suffer a notable relapse in his health. Spraying cannot be shown to have a long-term benefit and has many dangers, both immediate and long-term (including, ironically,  building pesticide resistance in mosquitoes). It is safer, cheaper, and more efficient to head off the mosquito population where it starts: in stagnant water, often in our own property.

In Graham’s memory, we rededicate ourselves to this quest, confident that we are on the winning side and that common sense will triumph in protecting both human and environmental health.

The following obituary was written by Graham’s family;

Graham Robert Hudgings departed this life on May 5, 2017, at the age of 47. Graham’s life was defined by his abiding love of others and his ability to help people realize their unique gifts and abilities. As a parent, spouse, brother, son, friend and coach, Graham recognized people’s strengths and needs and worked to bring out the best in each of them. He was a lifelong sports fan who had strong interests in basketball and baseball and was a talented musician, often entertaining family and friends with humorous spur-of the moment serenades. With his humor and cheerful nature, Graham changed the lives of everyone with whom he came into contact.

Graham comes from a close and loving family. He is survived by his wife Sarah and sons Patrick, 25, and Liam, 15; his parents, Margaret and Jim; brother Ian, his wife Selay, and their daughter Maya; sister Meg Niiler, her husband Tim, and their children Mateo and Ana Maria.

In recent years, Graham’s life revolved around the West Chester Dragons baseball league which he founded in 2010. Graham emphasized the importance of skill development and enjoyment of the game while demonstrating sportsmanship and character. View the tribute from the Dragons family at https://wcdragons.com.

Graham was a graduate of Westtown School (1988) and Kenyon College (1992,  with honors). He earned an MA degree in Psychology from Immaculata University (1996). Throughout his life, Graham enjoyed connecting with people. He sang in the Holy Trinity Boys Choir, participated in CISV (Children’s International Summer Villages), belonged to multiple musical groups, led YMCA camps, tutored students with reading issues, worked at Auto Wise, and founded Dragons baseball. Graham was appreciated for his ability to connect with people, his creativity, and his sharp wit.

An exposure to chemicals compromised his health and for 22 years, he fought the illness that ensued. He wanted to be sure that everyone is aware of the dangers of pesticides and chemicals in our air, food and water. He and his family started an organization called Don’t Spray Me in West Chester in 2015 to try to educate the community about the dangers to human health and the environment of spraying toxic substances.

Graham’s family will miss him tremendously but is comforted by the memories, their love for him, and the stories of his impact on people’s lives. The family has planned a memorial service for Friday, June 23rd, at 11 a.m. on the campus of Westtown School. The service will be held in the Meeting House, where Graham’s life will be celebrated. After the service, please join the family for refreshments and fellowship. The family invites everyone to bring a photo and/or written memory of Graham to post on display boards at the service and to bring solace to the family. Weather permitting, there will be baseball of some sort.

Arrangements are being handled by DeBaptiste Funeral Home. Contributions in Graham’s memory may be made to West Chester Dragons at https://wcdragons.com or to the Sierra Club of Chester County (Sustainability Committee) at http://sc.org/pa-spg, “SPG/Sustain’ty Cmte”.

 

Background to Westtown meeting Feb. 27

Dontsprayme is meeting with interested Westtown citizens on Mon.  Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Church of the Loving Shepherd, 1066 New St., West Chester 19382.

Our agenda will be to review the Don’t Spray Me mission and goals, and to look at what residents could do now in Westtown, before the warmer season arrives (bringing mosquitoes along with it!).

Please reply to “Sheila A. Burke” at sannburk@yahoo.com by Sunday evening, 2/26, so we can know whom to expect. Come prepared to contribute your great ideas and enthusiasm!

In West Chester we’ve learned a lot since we started on this path in the summer of 2015. The Borough government and County Health Department have been very cooperative. Municipal authorities need to hear from their own citizens so that they and the County can hear of concerns and ideas.

Here are answers to some questions our neighbors may have for those of us in Dontsprayme and West Chester:

Does Dontsprayme want to expand into other communities?

Not as an organization, just as a source of ideas. We have plenty to do in the Borough. We do want to encourage our neighboring municipalities to take the sorts of measures that West Chester has. If you can get your own municipal Response Plan set up, great, and the County will want to work with you. We met with a dozen interested East Bradford residents on Feb. 21 and Westtown is next on Feb. 27. If you know anyone in West Goshen who might be interested, please let us know.

Do you want to ban all pesticide  use?

We are focused on truck-delivered aerial spraying to kill adult mosquitoes. Our point is to take all measures to make such truck-borne pesticide spraying by the County less likely. Others may want to turn their attention to pesticides and herbicides in general, but we have enough to do with mosquitoes.

Is there anything citizens can do?

Yes! We found most property owners had no idea they themselves were contributing to the mosquito problem and thereby making spraying more likely. Vast improvements can be as simple as covering trash containers and turning over bird baths every few days, putting larvacide (harmless except to mosquitoes) in standing water, or adding some fish to ponds.

Aren’t our municipal governments dealing with the situation?

Probably not. They receive a notice from the Chesco Health Department when spraying is imminent, but most municipalities don’t promote awareness or take basic measures to inform their residents about basic measures to protect themselves, their children and their pets.

The County gives good information on how to cut down on mosquito numbers, but unless municipalities help spread the word, probably people don’t pay attention.

What are the dangers of the current system?

Anti-mosquito pesticides are toxic to bees, butterflies, other beneficial insects, and did you know: cats. They are also bad for people, especially small children or allergic individuals.

Aren’t mosquitoes just a nuisance?

Unfortunately, they can pass along viruses from infected animals, particularly birds. West Nile Virus  does occur in PA, though its serious effect, encephalitis, has been very rare this far north. Horses and birds, which have a lot more exposure to mosquitoes than people do, can also die of West Nile disease. Other diseases may not be far behind as the climate warms.

What can our municipality do?

Municipalities should pass along needed information to their citizens and fight standing water.

In West Chester, we found that the storm drain system was contributing to the problem, because if an underground inlet is not functioning properly and retains standing water, it provides an ideal mosquito mosquito breeding ground. The Borough has that under control now. Not all municipalities have storm drain systems, but many do.

Can’t the current system just continue?

Not safely. By cutting down on the mosquito population we prepare better for the next mosquito-borne disease to come our way. This could be Zika virus, which caused big problems in southern Florida in 2016. We really have to have good systems in place.

Also, the pesticide the County has been using is one that already mosquitoes in Florida are becoming resistant to. When that happens through overuse, anti-mosquito programs have to upgrade to more toxic pesticides.

Can’t we just ask the County not to spray our property?

No, if the County decides to spray, you can’t just put out a sign. All you can do is leave town for a few days. There are people in the Borough who would have to do that. If you are hypersensitive to chemicals, you can get on a registry, but that just means they notify you personally and you draw your own conclusions.

 

Special feature: West Chester Food Co-op

The West Chester Food Co-op is working to build a member-owned (cooperative) full-service grocery store in West Chester.  The store will provide daily access to fresh, healthy, local food, and will be walkable for those in the Borough and have parking for those who don’t.

Cooperatives are businesses formed not to return profits to investors but to serve the needs of their members.  A cooperative offers our community the opportunity to build together something we all want.

The Food Co-op hired a consultant to produce an investment-grade projection of revenue for a store in our community; so we know it can work.  Read more here.

Cooperatives start through community support: many small investments from as broad a base as possible assure that the business reflects the community.  The Co-op is building that equity base right now.

The Food Co-op is more than a grocery store: its mission is to enhance the well-being of the people of West Chester by promoting healthy and mindful eating, improving access to sustainably produced food, helping those in need to secure quality food, advancing sustainable and humane agriculture, supporting local farms, and building community through cooperative enterprise.

The Co-op seeks to bring transparency and accountability to every step of the food production and distribution process from farm to table, providing confidence for educated consumer choice and food that the community can trust. Nutritious food is a gift to the health and well-being of an entire population.

As a member-owner, you also help set policies and decide what sorts of food are stocked, and you also receive a yearly rebate.

Member-owners make a one-time $400 investment (there is an installment plan and gift certificates are available).  The Co-op is nearing its  target to move into the next phase of development; your investment can put them over the top.  See the timeline for project development here.

You may email the Co-op here or join on-line here.  Please support our friends and community!

 

What is a Vector Index?

As of 2016, Chester County is using the Vector Index method of using mosquito data to predict the West Nile Virus threat to humans. Here is a summary from “2013 West Nile Virus in the United States: Guidelines for Surveillance, Prevention, and Control” at the CDC site, p. 18 (boldface added):

The Vector Index (VI) is an estimate of the abundance of infected mosquitoes in an area and incorporates information describing the vector species that are present in the area, relative abundance of those species, and the WNV infection rate in each species into a single index (Gujaral et al. 2007, Bolling et al. 2009, Jones et al. 2011). The VI is calculated by multiplying the average number of mosquitoes collected per trap night by the proportion infected with WNV, and is expressed as the average number of infected mosquitoes collected per trap night in the area during the sampling period. In areas where more than one WNV vector mosquito species is present, a VI is calculated for each of the important vector species and the individual VIs are summed to represent a combined estimate of the infected vector abundance. By summing the VI for the key vector species, the combined VI accommodates the fact that WNV transmission may involve one or more vectors in an area. Increases in VI reflect increases in risk of human disease (Bolling et al. 2009, Jones et al. 2011, Kwan et al. 2012, Colborn et al. 2013 in press) and have demonstrated significantly better predictive ability than estimates of vector abundance or infection rate alone, clearly demonstrating the value of combining information for vector abundance and WNV infection rates to generate a more meaningful risk index (Bolling et al. 2009). As with other surveillance indicators, the accuracy of the Vector Index is dependent upon the number of trap nights used to estimate abundance and the number of specimens tested for virus to estimate infection rate. Instructions for calculating the Vector Index in a system with multiple vector species present are in Appendix 2.

For the actual VI formula and a detailed example, see pp. 64-66 of the above Guidelines.

Risk analysis needed before spraying permethrin

Contributed by one of Dontsprayme’s consulting scientists, in response to spraying activity this summer

I am concerned about the recent decision to spray in an area of Chester County for West Nile carrying mosquitoes, considering what is currently known about permethrin, the availability of less toxic alternatives and methods for mosquito control, and the demonstrated resistance of mosquito populations to this pesticide. Even if there are some West Nile positive mosquitoes in the vicinity, has a risk analysis been done to see that the perceived benefits of spraying outweigh the long term risk to human health?

While permethrin was studied at length in 1994 by the US Army and found to be relatively safe, this early study should be taken in context: more American soldiers have died from insect-borne illness than of enemy fire. For troops deploying to tropical areas, and who have already willingly put their lives on the line for our country, permethrin is the lesser of two evils. Since the 1994 study, there has been a great deal of research into the toxicity of permethrin, and the picture grows more and more grim with the passing years. Work that supports the use of permethrin, such as the EPA’s cumulative risk assessment (2011)[1], is very thorough at the surface, but consider limited endpoints: specifically, those derived from the a priori known ways in which pyrethrins and pyrethroids disrupt neural function.

As complete as the EPA study seems to be, its flaw is in its failure to consider other endpoints besides neural function. A recent review article[2] identified 29 studies in which permethrin-induced toxicity was identified in various species (and cited a number of other studies where human toxicity was shown). It also goes into far more detail than the Army study about the mechanisms of toxicity in the various bodily systems.

From the article:

Although it was believed that PER showed low mammalian toxicity, an increasing number of studies have shown that PER can also cause a variety of toxicities in animals and humans, such as neurotoxicity (Carloni et al., 2012, 2013; Falcioni et al., 2010; Gabbianelli et al., 2009b; Nasuti et al., 2014, 2008, 2007b), immunotoxicity (Gabbianelli et al., 2009a; Jin et al., 2010; Olgun and Misra, 2006), cardiotoxicity (Vadhana et al., 2010, 2011a, 2011b, 2013), hepatotoxicity (Gabbianelli et al., 2004, 2013), reproductive (Issam et al., 2011), genotoxic (Turkez and Aydin, 2012, 2013; Turkez and Togar, 2011; Turkez et al., 2012), and haematotoxic (Nasuti et al., 2003) effects, digestive system toxicity (Mahmoud et al., 2012; Sellami et al., 2014b, 2015), anti-androgenic activity (Christen et al., 2014; Xu et al., 2008), fetotoxicity (Erkmen, 2015), and cytotoxicity (Hu et al., 2010) in vertebrates and invertebrates.

Additionally (Vadhana et al., 2013):

Early life environmental exposure to PER could play a critical role in the onset of age-related diseases (Carloni et al., 2012, 2013; Fedeli et al., 2013; Gabbianelli et al., 2013; Vadhana et al., 2011b). Previous findings demonstrate that early life pesticide exposure to low doses of the PER insecticide has long-term consequences leading to toxic effects such as cardiac hypotrophy, increased Ca2 ©≠ level and increased Nrf2 gene expression….

In fact, there is evidence that effects of this nature are transgenerational and that there are epigenetic changes that ensue due to exposure. What’s clear is that the pesticide research community has NOT signed off on the harmlessness of such pesticides to humans despite the EPA guidelines or material safety data sheets. 

In addition its toxicity, it’s also fairly clear that mosquitoes evolve resistance to permethrin and other pesticides relatively rapidly. From Ramkumar et al (2015), after exposure to permethrin, within 10 generations, the 50% lethal dose concentration (LC50) of permethrin increased 17-fold. 

Ramkumar, G., & Shivakumar, M. S. (2015). Laboratory development of permethrin resistance and cross-resistance pattern of Culex quinquefasciatus to other insecticides. Parasitology Research, 114(7), 2553–2560.

Research on West Nile carrying mosquitoes indicates that when field collected mosquitos were tested for pesticide resistance, in one case there was a 299-fold increase in dosage to reach the LC50.

Kasai, S., Shono, T., Komagata, O., Tsuda, Y., Kobayashi, M., Motoki, M., … Tomita, T. (2007). Insecticide resistance in potential vector mosquitoes for West Nile virus in Japan. Journal of Medical Entomology, 44(5), 822–829.

An alternative to using such pesticides is a larvicide, BT, which has been studied extensively. This appears to be safe at the moment (except for mega-doses, or deviant genetic strains), and is a champ at killing mosquito larvae. 

Ibrahim, M. A., Griko, N., Junker, M., & Bulla, L. A. (2010). Bacillus thuringiensis. Bioengineered Bugs, 1(1), 31–50.

So the question is: if permethrin has already been shown to be dangerous to animals and humans AND it’s been shown to have diminishing effects on mosquitoes, and there are alternative measures that work, why is there such a strong push to spray? One must remember that where spraying of this nature is used by the WHO, it is used as the lesser of two evils in regions where the risk of mosquito-borne illness and subsequent death or disability is high enough to justify its use. Are there enough cases of West Nile in our area that spraying is justified? Has there been enough sampling of mosquito populations? What is the correlation between the ratio of mosquitoes with West Nile and the number of diagnosed cases? Are larvicide or other control measures being optimally used?

As a scientist who teaches the physical sciences and who does health-related research, I’m struggling to understand how the data can possibly support a decision to spray.

[1] US Environmental Protection Agency; Office of Pesticide Programs. (2011). “Pyrethrins/Pyrethroid Cumulative Risk Assessment.” Retrieved from US Environmental Protection Agency.

[2] Xu Wang et al., “Permethrin-induced oxidative stress and toxicity and metabolism. A review,” Environmental Research, Volume 149, August 2016, Pages 86-104.

Chester County Health Department WNV releases, summer 2016

“Mosquito control treatment scheduled for East Coventry Township
to control nuisance mosquitoes.” released dated 6/13/16. Spraying was scheduled for June 15 from 8:30 pm to 10:30 p.m. Download the release here: spraying-e-coventry-6-15-16.

“West Nile Virus identified in mosquito sample in Chester County
West,” release dated 7/15/16. The mosquito sample in question was collected in Tredyffrin on July 7. Download the release here: west-nile-idd.

“Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Thornbury and Birmingham Townships
to prevent West Nile Virus,” release dated 9/9/16. Spraying was scheduled for Sept. 13 from 7:30 pm to 11:00 p.m. Download the release here: spraying-thornbury-birmingham-9-13-16

Also hear an interview about Zika virus with Chesco Health Director Jeanne Casner and other staff members on The Julia Journal, WCHE, 1520 AM, 9/29/16.

Community activists fight mosquitoes and spraying

by Pete Bannan, Daily Local News, 9/10/16

WEST CHESTER >> Motorists driving through the streets of the borough this summer may have noticed the lawn signs with a baby wearing a gas mask stating ‘Don’t Spray Me.’ Those provocative signs belong to a group of community activists formed to stop Chester County from spraying pesticides in the borough.

Co-founders Margaret Hudgings and Nathaniel Smith recently sat down with a reporter to talk about the group.

“In 2012 the county sprayed in the southwest quadrant of the borough,” said Hudgings. “The morning after it was like silent spring, and we had a lot of people reporting illnesses.”

Three years later, Hudgings and Smith received reports of a plan by the county to spray in the Marshall Square Park area for West Nile mosquitoes which had been discovered in that neighborhood. County Health Department officials planned to use permethrin with permanone, sprayed by truck in the evening after winds had calmed down.

Concerned about the health effects on people and the environment, the two drew up a petition calling for a stop to spraying.

“We assembled a group of five volunteers who walked the southwest quadrant of the borough with a petition asking the county not to spray,” Hedging said. “We got a 98-percent signing rate. People don’t want to be sprayed.”

They presented it to West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta and county health officials…

dln-dsm

read more at Daily Local News