Don’t Spray Me! was founded in September 2015 by residents of West Chester PA and surrounding communities to raise awareness about the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals in the environment. From 2015-19 we worked within the Sustainability Committee of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Group of the Sierra Club, and also reached out to local groups that share our environmental concerns. Don’t Spray Me! member of the West Chester Green Team (logo below) and Chester County Environment Alliance.
Our logo is a baby in a gas mask that was featured in our first yard signs (on the right below) in 2016. We introduced our “Happy Baby” signs (on the left below) in 2017 for those who wish to emphasize that in West Chester and many other locations we had in fact not been sprayed (although many locations, including West Chester, were sprayed late in the 2018 season). Our signs symbolize our desire to protect the environment and people, particularly the young, who are most vulnerable from the dangers of chemical poisons.
With the support of our mayor at the time, Carolyn Comitta, and our Borough Council, we won our first victory when the threatened spraying of Permanone in the northeast section of West Chester borough was avoided in 2015. Borough officials agreed with us that the small risk of West Nile Virus was not worth risking the health of thousands of borough residents and the associated environmental damage, including the killing of bees and other beneficial insects, the poisoning of run-off water, and the danger to pets.
We are now a group of about 400 concerned citizens with teams in West Chester Borough, East Bradford, West Goshen and Westtown working in our neighborhoods on these important environmental issues. We have branched out successfully into ending Roundup use by the Borough government. With the help of paid summer interns, we have also worked with young people on killing weeds in sidewalks without toxic chemicals, monitoring storm drains, and gardening organically. In implementing community education, we have organized several community picnics and cosponsored Earth Day observations and a regular fall environmental film festival at West Chester University.
We are in agreement with the large and growing body of research showing that spraying airborne pesticides for mosquito control poses serious threats to the environment and human health and is the least effective form of mosquito control. We favor non-toxic measures, such as larviciding and reducing mosquito breeding sites by education of residents. We are following the lead of many communities across the nation that have banned spraying for mosquitoes, some more than 15 years ago, with no adverse human health consequences. The resolution in Lyndhurst OH and the plan in Shaker Heights OH have inspired our work here in Chester County PA. We are also following the lead of the state of California in warning people about the dangers of RoundUp/glysophate. Young people are interested and involved in all these efforts.
Our very recognizable signs have been very successful in getting out our message, with hundreds in place across the County during the mosquito season. The mood of our 2018 sign, pictured below, is in the middle between 2016 and 2017, pictured above.
We urge all municipalities to examine these issues, to create detailed plans to control mosquitoes without spray, and thus to protect residents and the environment.