Phoenixville and Schuylkill the next to be sprayed

Chester County press release:

West Chester, PA – The Chester County Health Department will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of Phoenixville Borough and Schuylkill Township (see maps below). The treatment is scheduled for Wednesday, September 5th from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm. The rain date for this event is Thursday, September 6th from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm….

Read the full release at the above site.

This planned spraying with the pesticide deltamethrin involves big chunks (see maps online) of densely populated neighborhoods. (Isn’t it odd how the press release text finds euphemisms so as not to use the term “pesticide,” which occurs only in the EPA-related statement at the very end?)

As mentioned in “Mosquito spraying and public information,” the public and their elected representatives can’t find the underlying data online because the usual sites have not been updated recently. “Just trust us”?

On the futility of this kind of spraying, see “Why don’t they just spray and kill all the mosquitoes?

If you are in one of the spray areas, please see “In case of spraying: Help us / Help yourself.” You should protect yourself and y our family, but also your observations can help us catalogue the conditions and effects of spraying.

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Voter Bayer… for Corporate Hall of Shame

Corporate Accountability International is asking people to vote for the “Corporate Hall of Shame.”

Our first choice: pesticide industry giant Bayer, about to merge with agrochemical giant Monsanto.

Bayer is a top manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are a key factor in beekeepers losing nearly 50% of their hives this year.

Bayer also happens to manufacture both Permanone and DeltaGard, the 2 anti-mosquito pesticides sprayed recently by the Chester County Department of Health.

You can vote for 3 “candidates” here. There are plenty of other worthy choices for the honor as well.

Please join us Fri. Aug. 31!

Friday Aug. 31, 11:30am to 1pm, rain or shine.

Show our views about pesticide spraying at the weekly Concerned Constituent Action Group rally.

Location: NW Corner of High Street and Market Street, at the Historic Chester County Courthouse, West Chester.

Bring a poster or DSM sign, or pick up one there.

On-street parking or park at the Bicentennial Parking Garage at 20 S. High Street, West Chester.

“Why don’t they just spray and kill all the mosquitoes?”

Yes, people may wonder: “Why don’t they just spray and kill all the mosquitoes?”

First, it’s impossible to kill all the mosquitoes. Any spraying, including from a truck as done by the County, kills only the portion of mosquitoes that happen to be flying around at the time and encounter toxic droplets. We have seen figures of up to an 80% kill rate (yes, this is a serious poison) but no really authoritative figure.

But suppose 20+% of adult mosquitoes survive (and any out of the spray zone, sheltered at the time in thick foliage, or in inaccessible areas like inside bulkheads or hollow trees, will not be affected). The females, at least, will be happily flying around the next day biting people and laying eggs as usual.

The hundreds of eggs that each female lays in stagnant water are affected by spray. Those eggs will become larvae, pupae, and adults, all within a week in hot weather like now.

And current larvae and pupae will not be affected by spray either.

And not all mosquitoes are created equal. Specifications require that spraying occur only in the evening, when honeybees are less active. Disaster for bees ensues if spraying occurs at other times.

Our home-grown mosquitoes, the ones that at least give us an auditory warning hum as they circle us looking for bare skin, tend to be active in the evening; however, the recently established “Asian Tiger” mosquitoes, the silent biters, tend to be active during the day and therefore are not much affected by spraying. Killing off some of the “regular” mosquitoes probably just opens the airways to more Asian Tigers.

Furthermore, anti-mosquito spray actually kills mosquito-eaters like dragonflies and toads, to say nothing of insects that we enjoy seeing or that are important to ecological balance like butterflies.

The County Health Department does not spray for the comfort of people who wish to be outside without the recommended bug repellents, long sleeves, and long pants. People outside need to weigh those nuisances against the nuisance of being bitten. The Health Department is not the Department of Outdoor Living.

Finally, proper public policy is to spray only, in the words of the Chesco Health Department, “after exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies.”

The prime non-toxic mosquito control strategy is larviciding suspect standing water. Individuals can larvicide on their own property but not on public property. We are glad to say that the Borough of West Chester is taking steps for two employees to receive the relatively simple licensing to do that, and we hope other municipalities will do the same.

Currently, the County does the larviciding but obviously needs to be informed where the problem areas are in such a large county. In West Chester, our Adopt A Drain program is clearing drain grills of plastics and other detritus and informing the Borough of drains that need cleaning below grill level or larvicing where they are holding standing water.

Example, as of Aug. 30, 2018: the storm drain at the NE corner of E. Nields and S. Matlack streets. If you check it out, you’ll see a water reflection at the bottom. After the dry last week in August, this drain could already have released swarms of adult mosquitoes to the neighborhood. In dry weather, mosquitoes could also be breeding in stagnant areas of Goose Creek and Plum Run, including water backing up in drainage pipes entering the stream. (Water samples are needed to check it out.)

If residents anywhere are aware of storm drains with standing water, they should inform their municipality. And of course, we should all patrol our own property, even for something as small as a bowl holding water under a potted plant, and put in a helpful word to neighbors who may not be addressing the issue. For some egregious “Case studies in what to avoid,” see here.

Mosquito spraying and public information

(Reference are current as of 8/29/18; of course, we are hoping that the state and County sites linked below will soon be updated so that we will have more data to study and share)

Don’t Spray Me! wishes to work factually and democratically to convey our negative view of pesticide spraying. We believe that the different levels of government should in turn work openly with citizens and taxpayers.

In its press releases about pesticide spraying, the Chester County Health Department says that it sprays “after exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies.” To us, this would mean at a minimum:

1) Reaching out to the County’s 73 municipalities to help them educate their residents about mosquito control, and to suggest the many precautions that residents should take in the regrettable case of airborne pesticide actually being disseminated in their community.

West Chester Borough and its citizens have dialogued exhaustively with the County Health Department and have taken on some of the needed education and outreach roles. We do not know that that has happened anywhere else in the County, except to some degree in East Bradford.

2) Larviciding (or helping municipalities to larvicide) pools of water and storm drains as needed to prevent the development of larvae from mosquito eggs there. This is the primary non-toxic mosquito control strategy.

DSM has had to file a Right To Know request with the PA Dept of Health asking when and where the County has conducted larviciding in West Chester Borough. The Health Department has said it either does not have records (2015-17) or does not have time (2018) to find out and has encouraged us to ask the State.

Furthermore, the County informs us of the general location of traps when it wishes to share high Vector Index readings or wishes to spray but not as a matter of course. Thus of the 31 mosquito traps set in the Borough, we have a general idea of where just 7* are. Therefore, we have no way to understand what role the readings from the other 26 traps played in the recent plan to spray much of the Borough — which Borough Council unanimously opposed (and which has not occurred).

According to the PA West Nile site, spraying has been conducted this year in 27 of the state’s 67 counties (as of Aug. 14; the chart is outdated). So are those 27 the only counties with supposedly high levels of risk for West Nile virus?

Not at all! According to “Recent West Nile Hot Zones in Pennsylvania in 2018” (also as of 8/14), 29 counties are described as: “There is no active county surveillance program in this county. DEP biologists do perform minimal surveillance in this county.” Of those 29 counties, 10 are said to be at “high risk” for WNV but they have not been sprayed. If WNV is such a crisis that in Chester County environmental and human health must be risked to broadcast pesticides in our communities, why do those 29 counties and especially the 10 “high risk” counties escape the same level of “treatment”?

The County justifies spraying on the basis of Vector Index scores. Although the math behind those numbers appears impenetrable to our statistician, the Vector Index level at which the County sprays municipalities varies widely, and some municipalities that have not been sprayed have higher Vector Indexes (per the information available online) than others that have been sprayed. How can there be such a discrepancy if the Vector Index is a reliable scientific tool?

And is it reasonable to think that WNV stops at municipal boundaries? Almost all of the County’s 24 untested municipalities are adjacent to municipalities with testing. For example, Parkesburg Borough (1.2 square miles) was sprayed on Aug. 9, but (as of 7/30/18) none of the 3 much larger adjacent municipalities was even being tested. Mosquitoes do know how to fly, and so do crows, the chief reservoir of the virus. But since almost no humans ever are aware of contracting the virus, what’s the big fuss anyhow?

If you wish to check the Vector Index for Chesco municipalities, see here. However, good luck in finding the levels for this month, as the posting stops as of 7/30/18. Since the County uses a 3-week window to justify spraying, that means that the public and elected officials have no online information to show any data that might underlie any recent spraying on the municipal level, nor any information either on the location of actual traps.

Citizens and their elected representative are being denied the information and data they need to form educated opinions in this important matter of environmental and human health (and the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent).

*8/30 just updated from 5 to 7 traps whose general locations we know in West Chester Borough, as we found out 2 more, in all:

• Greenfield Park
• College Avenue Pump Station (700 block of College Ave.)
• Everhart Park
• Kathy McBratnie Park
• Marshall Square Park
• 100 Block Magnolia Street
• 500 Block of East Miner Street

N.b. So 24 to go! Even if we knew precise trap locations, we wouldn’t publish them, because the Health Department fears interference with their traps and we don’t want to be blamed if there is any. And we do believe in valid data, when we can get it. Please note that where mosquitoes are trapped is not necessarily where they breed or spend most of their time.

Pesticide ban is failing to protect suburban bee populations

[This article shows how truly dangerous such pesticides are to sensitive species and even to the future of flowering plants. In the European Union, even after a ban on farming use of neonicotinoids, bees remain under threat from home use. How much greater the peril in the US, where the pesticide lobby and its political agents keep the pesticides flowing freely!]

by Brendan Montague, Ecologist, 25th July 2018

Bees living in suburban habitats are still being exposed to significant levels of pesticides despite the EU ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, new research from University of Sussex scientists shows.

While the introduction of new EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid chemicals five years ago has reduced exposure of bees living in farmland, the study found that overall more than half of all pollen and nectar samples collected from bee nests in Sussex, Hertfordshire and Scotland between 2013 and 2015 were contaminated.

The study is the first of its kind to highlight the risk to bees in urban areas posed by garden use of pesticides.

Bee-attractive

The scientists at the University of Sussex are urging gardeners to ditch their bug sprays immediately in favour of encouraging natural predators such as ladybirds or lacewings, and the use of physical methods such as hand-removal of pests, and netting or sticky traps.

Dr Beth Nicholls, postdoctoral research fellow in evolution, behaviour and environment at the University of Sussex and the study’s lead author, said: “Our findings suggest that the EU’s recent decision to extend the neonicotinoid moratorium to include all field crops is likely to have a positive effect on bees, relieving some of the stress on our already struggling pollinator populations.

“However, given that bees in suburban gardens appear to remain at risk post-moratorium, further work is needed to understand the sources of neonicotinoid exposure in these areas and to find ways to reduce it.

“Our study indicates that limiting the public sale and use of neonicotinoid-based bug sprays, which are currently unaffected by the moratorium, is needed if we are to protect bee populations living in and around our towns and cities.”…

read more at Ecologist

The Truth About Mosquitoes, Pesticides and West Nile virus

This is a very thorough indictment of the expansive tendency in mosquito spraying. We give just a few excerpts here. Please see the full article for all details.

A Beyond Pesticides Factsheet

While communities have good intentions, many existing policies and programs may be dangerous to children, adults and wildlife and inadequate by relying too heavily on spraying pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes….

Less than one percent of those infected with WNv will develop severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The vast majority of people (about 80%) who become infected with WNv will show no symptoms and never become sick. Some 20% may experience mild flu-like symptoms within 3 – 15 days….

A person who has been infected with WNv may have life-long immunity even if they show no symptoms….

PESTICIDE SPRAY PROGRAMS ARE INEFFECTIVE

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.

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 WNv or continuing to breed.

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.

Mosquitoes develop resistance to pesticides over time, rendering the chemicals ineffective. A 2003 study finds that mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and malaria developed resistance to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides as a result of a single genetic mutation.

After Hurricane Floyd caused a surge in mosquito populations in Florida, state officials took bite counts before and after widespread aerial spraying and found that mosquito populations surged back to pre-spray levels within three days of the treatment….

In 2003 the city of Boulder, CO did not adulticide and showed an 80% reduction in mosquito populations and lower rates of serious illness per population than surrounding cities where adulticiding took place….

see lots more info, including non-toxic methods of mosquito control, at Beyond Pesticides

E. and N. Coventry are next

Mosquito control treatment scheduled for East Coventry and North Coventry Townships to prevent West Nile Virus

West Chester, PA – The Chester County Health Department will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of East Coventry and North Coventry Townships (see maps below). The treatment is scheduled for Monday, August 20th from 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm. The rain date for this event is Tuesday, August 21st from 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm….

Keep reading at Chester County archive

Those in the spray area, please see our post “In case of spraying: Help us / Help yourself.”

Weed Killer in $289 Million Cancer Verdict Found in Oat Cereal and Granola Bars

Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., Toxicologist, “Weed Killer in $289 Million Cancer Verdict Found in Oat Cereal and Granola Bars,” Environmental Working Group, 8/15/18

By Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., Toxicologist

Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.

Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG’s health benchmark.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. Last week, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.

EWG tested more than a dozen brands of oat-based foods to give Americans information about dietary exposures that government regulators are keeping secret. In April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found “a fair amount,” but the FDA has not released its findings….

Keep reading and see list of oat products with glyphosate content at Environmental Working Group. Short version: avoid non-organic oat products, especially Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and Cheerios.