History of Don’t Spray Me

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.

Our logo is a baby in a gas mask (on the right below). Then we introduced our “Happy Baby” signs in 2017 for those who wish to emphasize that in many locations we have in fact not been sprayed (on the left below). Our signs symbolize our desire to protect everyone, 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, the threatened spraying of Permanone in the northeast section of West Chester borough was avoided in 2015. Our first victory. 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. Our current mayor, Jordan Norley, also supports Don’t Spray Me and has authored a letter that was distributed this summer in the borough.

We are now a group of almost 300 concerned citizens with chapters in West Chester borough, East Bradford, West Goshen and Westtown working in our neighborhoods on these important environmental issues. We have allied ourselves with the regional chapter of Sierra Club and branched out successfully into ending Roundup use by the Borough government. We are also educating citizens through the Sierra Club Youth Corps on killing weeds in sidewalks without toxic chemicals. As part of our focus is on community education, we are cosponsoring an environmental film festival at West Chester University beginning in the fall of 2017.

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 have inspired our work here in Chester County. 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 signs have been very successful in getting out our message, with about 350 in place across the County during the mosquito season.

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.

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West Chester educates the public about pesticides

by Alexa Brennan, The Quad, West Chester University, October 15, 2017

For decades American society has had a substance that could be sprayed on properties to decrease homeowners’ chances of contracting a mosquito-borne illness. However, this substance has met controversy as it could have long lasting negative effects on your health and other living beings, such as: bees, butterflies, dragonflies, cats, frogs, small children and hyper-allergic individuals. Given that risk, some argue that we shouldn’t spray. Don’t Spray Me is an organization in Chester County that fights to stop the use of dangerous pesticides; instead, they educate the community on safer and more effective means of controlling mosquitoes.

Throughout the Borough of West Chester, their lawn signage can be seen. It features a cartoon baby in a gas mask. When looking for a logo, Founder Margaret Hudgings wanted to find something that represented the dangers pesticide spraying had on children, so she searched Google Images for “baby in gas mask” and that image popped up. They got permission from Slovenian artist Daniel Ferencak to use his work, and that is how the baby in the gas mask came about.

Pesticide spraying can be life threatening. These pesticides have been linked with Autism, ADHD, Parkinsons and other kinds of cancers. Hudgings lost her son, Graham, to multiple chemical sensitivity due to spraying. “My son died five months ago after being sick for over 20 years from exposure to pesticide spraying,” said Hudgings. This has been a huge motivation for her and she is passionate about educating others….

read more at The Quad

Environmental Film Series: “Unacceptable Levels”

“Unacceptable Levels” (which should lead us all to scrutinize anew the pesticide residues in what we eat, drink, and breathe) was shown on Sept. 14, 2017, sponsored by the Sierra Club, Don’t Spray Me!, the WCU Sustainability Program, the WCU Geography & Planning Club, and 4CP, in memory of Graham Hudgings.

Included were an Introduction by State Rep. Carolyn Comitta and Q&A led by Dr. Joan Welch of WCU, as well as food and granting of awards by Dianne Herrin, chair of the West Chester Sustainability Advisory Committee. Photos by Taka Nagai:

‘Don’t Spray Me!’ holds rally in West Chester

by Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, 8/28/17

WEST CHESTER >> With a goal of eliminating chemical spraying for mosquitoes by local municipalities, more than two dozen activists rallied Saturday at the historic courthouse.

Several children were involved. They donned gas masks and held signs reading, “Don’t kill our bees and butterflies,” and “Sprayed pesticides harm pollination.”

The grassroots group, “Don’t Spray Me!” began in the borough three summers ago.

“We had a town meeting when we heard that they were going to spray,” state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, said. “People said ‘No.’ What can we do to avoid spraying?”

Comitta was mayor at the time and said that from those first steps, a West Nile task force committee was created in West Chester. For whatever reason, since the task force was formed, there has been no spraying for mosquitoes in West Chester….

read more at Daily Local News
Grassroots organization “Don’t Spray Me!” rallied at the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester Saturday. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

Grassroots organization “Don’t Spray Me!” rallied at the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester Saturday. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

Don’t Spray Me / Sierra Club Demonstration against spraying

When: Saturday, August 26, at noon–right after the peace vigil

Where: Chester County Court House, High and Market Sts, West Chester

Who: All of us with State Rep. Carolyn Comitta and others addressing us

Why: The Chesco Health Department has produced no evidence that spraying reduces West Nile disease and we know it can kill bees and fish and harm people but still they are spraying anyhow! Costs are high, benefits lacking.

Latest municipalities targeted for spraying: Downingtown and East Caln, Thursday Aug. 24. If you live there, please see here and see if you can help us on the needed observations.

Next communities to be sprayed: who knows?

Educate and larvicide but Don’t Spray Us!

Please come and bring friends and relatives, and a sign if you can.

Unity in Community Picnic: Sunday Sept. 3

N.b. as of 10 a.m., the forecast for 4-6 p.m. TODAY is: PARTLY SUNNY.

We cordially invite you to an end-of-summer Unity in Community Picnic, sponsored by the Sierra Club Sustainability Committee, Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Food Co-op–3 groups working together for people and the environment.

This celebration of growth–both in the number of Don’t Spray Me! supporters and in public consciousness of our message–will take place on Sunday, September 3, from 4 to 6 p.m., in Everhart Park, on the Union St. side, between S. Brandywine St. and S. Bradford Ave., West Chester Borough. (Rain date: Labor Day, Monday Sept. 4.)

We are happy to be able to offer free frozen yogurt for kids from Whirled Peace Frozen Yogurt, sponsored by DSM, Sierra Club, Carolyn and Tom Comitta, Margaret and Jim Hudgings, and Thriving Pets. Others are welcome to purchase frozen yogurt from the truck.

Come learn about Bat House-making, get the kids involved in fun environmental games, enjoy sample food from the Food Co-op, experience demonstrations such as Tai Chi and Yoga, see Sierra Club displays, and be in plenty of good company. Please bring your picnic and utensils.

We also commemorate the life of Graham Hudgings, an inspiration to our founding and all of our activities and a long-time sufferer from multiple chemical hypersensitivities, who tragically left us earlier this year.

For more information contact Margaret Hudgings at mhudgings@gmail.com/ or 610-692-3849.

Memorial Service for Graham Hudgings June 23

The Hudgings family cordially invites all supporters of Don’t Spray Me  to the memorial service for Graham Hudgings on Friday June 23rd in the meeting house on the campus of Westtown School at 11 in the morning.
The meeting house is not air conditioned so dress lightly and wear business casual. Dragons baseball players can wear their jerseys. Baseball hats can be worn after the service.
At the reception, kids are welcome to use the nearby fields to play wiffle ball. I will have all the equipment. Hopefully the weather will be good. Graham always wanted any event to be kid-friendly and informal so we hope that we will accomplish both!

The reception is adjacent to the meeting house and is air conditioned. There will be signs to direct traffic and attendants to assist with parking. There will be parking right in front of the meeting house for those that have mobility issues.

You can view this link for campus map and parking info.

See more about Graham here.

Don’t Spray Me & Sierra Club picnic & celebration

Thank you to all who were able to come to the Don’t Spray Me & Sierra Club picnic & celebration in Everhart Park on Sunday May 28.  Defending our environment and health is not all work! We are expanding our network of conscientious citizens and have been reaching out effectively beyond West Chester Borough.

Here are a few photos of the event.

Decorated bicycles:

Mosquito-repelling plants, courtesy of master gardener Halyna Church:

Jim Wylie prepares participants for  a “Clean Energy for All” photo promoting Sierra Club‘s “Ready for 100” initiative:

Clean Energy for All:

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 loss 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”.