Pesticides Putting Pajaro Valley Schools at Risk, Teachers Say

By Georgia Johnson, Good Times, 9/25/18

Fear flourishes amid industry reassurance, conflicting data

When third-grade teacher Melissa Dennis started working at Ohlone Elementary in Watsonville, she pictured her students playing in the adjacent strawberry fields, picking berries and running through rows of strawberries. But the more she talked to other teachers, the more she realized the reality might not be so idyllic.

“I started hearing about teachers in the past who had been organizing against pesticide use,” Dennis said. “I started thinking maybe I should be careful about drinking the water. But I never thought about the air.”

Ohlone Elementary was built right in the middle of farmlands. No one seems to knows why this location was chosen; the fact that surrounding farms use hundreds of gallons of pesticides and fumigants annually would make it seem less than ideal. Scientific findings on the dangers of pesticide exposure are complicated and sometimes confusing, but for residents, teachers, and farmworkers, the proof is in their experience and stories.

“When you read the label on the products, it says ‘these pesticides are toxic for small mammals, insects, frogs, birds,’” Dennis says. “They use thousands of pounds of this stuff all around us. What are human children but small mammals?”

Dennis eventually joined Safe Ag Safe Schools (SASS), a Salinas-based subgroup of Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR), with a few other Pajaro Valley Unified teachers who say they have witnessed multiple cases of brain tumors, neurological problems and severe respiratory illness in young children at their schools. Just yards away from many of these schools, tarps stretch across pesticide-treated fields and teachers keep the windows of their classrooms shut….

read more at Good Times

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Who says storm drains are a big mosquito problem?

The PA Department of Environmental Protection, that’s who!

We usually call them “storm drains” but others use the term “catch basins” or “inlets.” In any case, that’s where runoff from streets goes through a grill and disappears from our sight. But then were does it go? It should drain by gravity though a pipe system and eventually flow into a stream. That’s a problem for the stream, because street runoff can be polluted, e.g, by car and animal wastes.

But when water is able to remain standing in the storm drain, it provides an ideal habitat for mosquitoes to breed! Then those storm drains need to be “treated” (with a larvicide like Bti) to keep larvae from maturing there into adult mosquitoes. Here’s what PA DEP says (you have to keep refreshing the URL in your browser to find this photo and commentary):

One man’s suffering exposed Monsanto’s secrets to the world

by Carey Gillam, The Guardian, 8/11/18

It was a verdict heard around the world. In a stunning blow to one of the world’s largest seed and chemical companies, jurors in San Francisco have told Monsanto it must pay $289m in damages to a man dying of cancer which he claims was caused by exposure to its herbicides.

Monsanto, which became a unit of Bayer AG in June, has spent decades convincing consumers, farmers, politicians and regulators to ignore mounting evidence linking its glyphosate-based herbicides to cancer and other health problems. The company has employed a range of tactics – some drawn from the same playbook used by the tobacco industry in defending the safety of cigarettes – to suppress and manipulate scientific literature, harass journalists and scientists who did not parrot the company’s propaganda, and arm-twist and collude with regulators. Indeed, one of Monsanto’s lead defense attorneys in the San Francisco case was George Lombardi, whose resumé boasts of his work defending big tobacco.

Now, in this one case, through the suffering of one man, Monsanto’s secretive strategies have been laid bare for the world to see. Monsanto was undone by the words of its own scientists, the damning truth illuminated through the company’s emails, internal strategy reports and other communications.

The jury’s verdict found not only that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, but that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto’s officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks….

read more at The Guardian

One in four Americans suffer when exposed to common chemicals

ScienceDaily, March 14, 2018

University of Melbourne research reveals that one in four Americans report chemical sensitivity, with nearly half this group medically diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), suffering health problems from exposure to common chemical products and pollutants such as insect spray, paint, cleaning supplies, fragrances and petrochemical fumes.

The research was conducted by Anne Steinemann, Professor of Civil Engineering and Chair of Sustainable Cities from the University of Melbourne School of Engineering, and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Professor Steinemann is an international expert on environmental pollutants, air quality, and health effects.

Professor Steinemann found the prevalence of chemical sensitivity has increased more than 200 per cent and diagnosed MCS has increased more than 300 per cent among American adults in the past decade. Across America, an estimated 55 million adults have chemical sensitivity or MCS.

“MCS is a serious and potentially disabling disease that is widespread and increasing in the US population,” Professor Steinemann said.

The study used an online survey with a national random sample of 1,137 people, representative of age, gender and region, from a large web-based panel held by Survey Sampling International (SSI).

The study found that, when exposed to problematic sources, people with MCS experience a range of adverse health effects, from migraines and dizziness to breathing difficulties and heart problems. For 76 per cent of people, the severity of effects can be disabling.

“People with MCS are like human canaries. They react earlier and more severely to chemical pollutants, even at low levels,” Professor Steinemann said.

The study also found that 71 per cent of people with MCS are asthmatic, and 86.2 per cent with MCS report health problems from fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, scented laundry products, cleaning supplies, fragranced candles, perfume and personal care products.

In addition, an estimated 22 million Americans with MCS have lost work days or a job in the past year due to illness from exposure to fragranced consumer products in the workplace.

To reduce health risks and costs, Professor Steinemann recommends choosing products without any fragrance, and implementing fragrance-free policies in workplaces, health care facilities, schools and other indoor environments.

The “contractual guidelines/agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection”

That is the phrase used for the first time we can recall in the County release about the spraying of West Chester schedule for this 9/11 evening (unless rain intervenes). For the full document, see “Happy Patriots’ Day, West Chester, from the Chesco Health Department.”

Nw we are in possession of the document that must be at the origin of that phrase. Download it here: DEP DH contract for 2018. It’s basically an application to the PA DEP for a maximum of $102,680.40 to aid in anti-mosquito spraying in 2018. (That’s just a portion of the total expense, of course.)

Pages 1-22 are standard bureaucratic stuff. The interesting part comes on pp. 23-25 of the pdf: “2018 Addenda – Scope of Work.” The underlined paragraphs are the actual County submission for the state money.

So the Health Dept wrote its own ticket, telling the State what it wanted to do, the State said OK, and now the County is saying it has to abide by its contract with the state… which it wrote! Circular reasoning, anyone? And still, nothing there says when the County has to spray.

We need to dig deeper, but at this point it is hard to find evidence that the County has lived up to its stated intentions regarding public education, outreach to municipalities, and larviciding. We need to go the Right To Know route, since the information flow to the public has been cut off.

The only positive in the document is that the County commits to 48 hours notice (previously 24). They do not commit to skipping homes of hypersensitive individuals but in the last couple of years they have provided a small buffer around registered hypersensitives and registered apiarists.

Is there another “contractual guidelines/agreement”? We’ll find out.

DeltaGard: more specifications (thinking of West Chester being sprayed 9/11 eve)

First: if your street isn’t sprayed, don’t think you don’t need to take precautions. A DeltaGard applicator specialist working with Bayer products and with several decades’ experience in the business tells us the spray can drift 300 feet and does not tend to dissipate into the air. Of course, exactly where it goes depends on wind direction and speed. The manufacturer’s info confirms high mosquito kill rates at 300 and even 400 feet.

Now on to the manufacturer’s (that’s Bayer) label. Download it here: DeltaGard [label – mosquitos]. Note that this is specifically for the wide-area mosquito spray; other labels may pertain to other DeltaGard products.

The various DeltaGards all have deltamethrin as the Active Ingredient, but concentration and added ingredients may differ. See our earlier remarks on “turf and ornamental” DeltaGard here.

Not easy reading but let’s focus on:

to control adult mosquitoes, black flies, gnats, non-biting midges, stable flies, horse flies, deer flies, sheep flies, horn flies, and nuisance flying insects such as houseflies or blow flies.

It’s hard to love all those insects, but let’s point out that they are part of nature and are important food sources for birds, other insects, reptiles, and amphibians. And those others flying around outdoors have no health implications for people.

• For best results, apply when insects are most active and meteorological conditions are conducive to keeping the spray cloud in the air column close to the ground. An inversion of air temperatures and a light breeze is preferable. Application during the cooler hours of the night or early morning is recommended. Apply when wind speed is equal to or greater than 1 mph.

Who has an anemometer when you need one? If you do, please set it up! And how do we tell if there is a temperature inversion (meaning warmer air over cooler air)? Of course, those who wish the spray to remain concentrated at ground level want an inversion; the rest of us would be happy with the normal pattern, causing the spray to dissipate more rapidly. Meteorologists needed!

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

This product is extremely toxic to fresh water and estuarine fish and invertebrates. Runoff from treated areas into a body of water may be
hazardous to fish and aquatic invertebrates.

Do not apply over bodies of water (lakes, rivers, permanent streams, natural ponds, commercial fish ponds, swamps, marshes, or estuaries),
except when necessary to target areas where adult mosquitoes are present, and weather conditions will facilitate movement of applied
material away from the water in order to minimize incidental deposition into the water body. Do not contaminate water when disposing of
equipment rinsate or wash waters.

When used for mosquito adulticiding;

This pesticide is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow drift when
bees are foraging the treatment area, except when applications are made to prevent or control a threat to public and / or animal health
determined by a state, tribal, or local health or vector control agency on the basis of documented evidence of disease causing agents in
vector mosquitoes, or the occurrence of mosquito-borne disease in animal or human populations, or if specifically approved by the state or
tribe during a natural disaster recovery effort.

Please record any application over or next to bodies of water! 9/11/18 is shaping up not to meet the condition that “weather conditions will facilitate movement of applied material away from the water in order to minimize incidental deposition into the water body.”

If there are, as forecast, thunderstorms, they will do the opposite: wash the pesticide, both airborne and deposited on streets and other drainage areas, directly into surface drainage. If this happens, please photo drainage with a time stamp. Those fresh water fish and invertebrates are important ecological factors.

And let’s remember the 300-foot drift area.

What is supposed to happen? Has it been happening?

Some questions derived from CDC mosquito control guidelines:

1. Where has the County engaged in source reduction, as recommended?

The only source reduction we know of has been undertaken by West Chester Borough to prevent water from standing in storm drains. Does anyone know of other examples?

2. Where has the County engaged in larval mosquito control, as recommended?

They have told us that they do so, but so far have said they do not have records for 2015-17 and do not have time to tell us where for 2018; our Right to Know request on this with the PA Department of Environmental Protection is pending.

3. Has the County maintained a database of aquatic habitats to identify the sources of vector mosquitoes and a record of larval control measures applied to each (last paragraph below)?

From point 2 above, it would seem doubtful; but the public has a right to know, and we will.

Source material: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, “West Nile Virus in the United States: Guidelines for Surveillance, Prevention, and Control,” 2016, p. 33. (See the points we have put in boldface below. Download the full publication here).

Integrated Vector Management

Mosquito abatement programs successfully employ integrated pest management (IPM) principles to reduce mosquito abundance, providing important community services to protect quality of life and public health (Rose 2001). Prevention and control of WNV and other zoonotic arboviral diseases is accomplished most effectively through a comprehensive, integrated vector management (IVM) program applying the principles of IPM. IVM is based on an understanding of the underlying biology of the arbovirus transmission system, and utilizes regular monitoring of vector mosquito populations and WNV activity levels to determine if, when, and where interventions are needed to keep mosquito numbers below levels which produce risk of human disease, and to respond appropriately to reduce risk when it exceeds acceptable levels.

Operationally, IVM is anchored by a monitoring program providing data that describe:
• Conditions and habitats that produce vector mosquitoes.
• Abundance of those mosquitoes over the course of a season.
• WNV transmission activity levels expressed as WNV infection rate in mosquito vectors.
• Parameters that influence local mosquito populations and WNV transmission.

These data inform decisions about implementing mosquito control activities appropriate to the situation, such as:
Source reduction through habitat modification.
• Larval mosquito control using the appropriate methods for the habitat.

• Adult mosquito control using pesticides applied from trucks or aircraft when established thresholds have been exceeded.
Community education efforts related to WNV risk levels and intervention activities.

Monitoring also provides quality control for the program, allowing evaluation of:
• Effectiveness of larval control efforts.
• Effectiveness of adult control efforts.
• Causes of control failures (e.g., undetected larval sources, pesticide resistance, equipment failure)….

and p. 34:

Larval Mosquito Surveillance

“Larval surveillance involves identifying and sampling a wide range of aquatic habitats to identify the sources of vector mosquitoes, maintaining a database of these locations, and a record of larval control measures applied to each. This requires trained inspectors to identify larval production sites, collect larval specimens on a regular basis from known larval habitats, and to perform systematic surveillance for new sources. This information is used to determine where and when source reduction or larval control efforts should be implemented….