Lincoln County, OR, Adopts First-in-Nation Ban of Aerial Pesticide Spray


OREGON: The election results from Lincoln County, OR, are in: Lincoln residents adopted the first-in-the nation countywide Freedom from Aerial Sprayed Pesticides ordinance by 61 votes. Lincoln residents are the first in Oregon to secure people’s environmental and democratic rights, challenging the claimed “rights” of corporations. They are also the first to secure the rights of nature to exist and flourish, joining a growing number of communities across the U.S. and globally who are recognizing ecosystem rights. Measure 21-177 bans aerial sprayed pesticides as a violation of those rights.

The measure was ahead by 27 votes in the ballot count on election night (May 16th). However, there were 100 unsigned ballots that could still be counted towards the total. Those voters had until May 30th to sign their ballots, which were then added to the final count and secured the win.

Lincoln County residents have faced decades of toxic aerial pesticide spraying by the industrial timber industry. Timber corporations repeatedly aerial spray toxic pesticides on clearcuts to kill off “competing” vegetation and animals that threaten newly planted and young commodity crop trees. Residents have been working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) since 2013 to protect themselves from the dangerous practice. …

read more at CELDF

 

It’s not just about the pesticides

Since 2015, with many others, I have been part of the West Chester PA activist group Don’t Spray Me, whose immediate purpose is to cut down on both mosquitoes and the pesticides sprayed to kill them.

The Don’t Spray Me effort is not “just” about mosquitoes and even not “just” about pesticides.

The short version is that if we, as individuals, organizations, and municipalities, can prevent mosquitoes from breeding in standing water, then we won’t be threatened with toxic air-borne spraying that has less lasting negative impact on mosquito populations than on many other vulnerable species, including but not limited to hypersensitive humans, beneficial insects like bees, and some other species.

Many things we believe in are under assault today. Americans have become very skeptical of trusting the status quo, and we rightly worry what could happen next if we aren’t vigilant.

When I have the mosquito conversation with anyone who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, they usually recall being exposed to DDT in their neighborhoods, when that chemical was being sprayed liberally in a futile attempt to save elm trees from Dutch Elm Disease. Many of us recall basking in the cooling DDT mist as it drifted down from the treetops….

read more at Politics, A View from West Chester

Garden for Wildlife

Many of us in Chester County are dedicated to our gardens; one of the rewards is knowing that we are welcoming wildlife.

The National Wildlife Federation has a “Garden for Wildlife” certification to encourage gardeners. All of us who oppose the use of unnecessary pesticides and herbicides will be glad to see that the conditions include:

Organic Practices:
• Eliminate Chemical Pesticides
• Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers

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.

Aimed at Zika Mosquitoes, Spray Kills Millions of Honeybees

By ALAN BLINDER, New York Times, SEPT. 1, 2016 [n.b. the spraying agency made several “human errors” in this case: spraying a toxic chemical other than as a last resort; not giving adequate public notice, especially to beekeepers; and spraying when bees are active during morning hours and on a hot day. If you ever observe private companies spraying airborne pesticide at times or locations where bees could be active, please document details and let us know.]

The Monday morning scene at Juanita Stanley’s apiary in Summerville, S.C., was ghastly and stunningly quiet: Everywhere one looked were clumps of honeybees, dead after a dousing on Sunday with the potent pesticide with which the local authorities had intended to kill mosquitoes.

“There was no need for a bee suit Monday morning to go down there, because there was no activity. It was silent,” Ms. Stanley said on Thursday. “Honestly, I just fell to the ground. I was crying, and I couldn’t quit crying, and I was throwing up.”

For Ms. Stanley and her business, the death toll easily exceeds two million bees, and Dorchester County officials are still tabulating how many more might have been killed when a day of aerial spraying, scheduled to combat mosquitoes that could be carrying viruses like Zika, went awry. The apparently inadvertent extermination, the county administrator said, happened after a county employee failed to notify Ms. Stanley’s business, which the administrator said should have been alerted about the spraying strategy. Some hobbyists were also caught by surprise.

“We’ve learned that the beekeeping community in Dorchester County, and in that area in particular, is larger than we were aware of,” Jason L. Ward, the county administrator, said in an interview. “Our idea is to balance working with them with the issue of public safety.”

Concerned about the spread of the Zika virus across the South, local officials on Sunday targeted a 15-square mile area of the county, which is near Charleston, with naled. The pesticide, which has been in use in the United States for more than 50 years, is a common tool for mosquito control, but federal officials have said the chemical can be harmful to honeybees while also posing brief risks to aquatic invertebrates and terrestrial wildlife….

read more at New York Times. Also see Melissa Breyer, “Massive bee death after South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes, treehugger, 9/1/16, and “‘Like it’s been nuked’: Millions of bees dead after South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes,” Washington Post, 9/1/16 (see also videos and photos there).

More technical: “NALED Insecticide Fact Sheet” at No Spray Coalition. A dangerous spray, no doubt about it!

What we can learn from anti-zika spraying

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 8/9/16

Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and people.

So, health authorities have been working on the twin challenges of eradicating mosquitoes and educating people.

Transmission of Zika virus from mosquitoes to people (and vice versa) in the continental US has occurred only in one small tropical enclave: a square mile (or now it seems even less) of Miami. Pennsylvanians might worry about catching zika from travelers returning from the Rio Olympics but not from mosquitoes this summer so far north. (1)

However, we should be worrying about the effects of being sprayed with pesticides, of which there is really no safe level for the environment and human exposure.

As someone involved in the current campaign to cut down on both mosquitoes and pesticide spraying in West Chester, I think we can learn a lot from zika, even if it is not currently being transmitted by mosquitoes anywhere near us.

Many insects, like the viruses that attack the human body, reproduce quickly and can develop resistance to whatever we throw against them. As doctors turn from one antibiotic to another to find one that still kills a given virus, so health officials experiment to see what still kills different mosquito species.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, the chief transmitter of zika, is particularly problematic for traditional mosquito elimination programs and the standard anti-mosquito pesticide permethrin, a pesticide usually applied from ground-based equipment such as trucks. (2)

Aedes aegypti has been acquiring immunity in Thailand (3) to permethrin and even to DDT (which was banned in the US in 1972 after severe impacts such as almost driving our national bird into extinction); and similarly in Mexico (4) and, more recently, in Puerto Rico (5) and now Florida. (6)

As time goes on, scientists have to look farther up the pesticide chain—with further likely risks—to find more effective pesticides. This is not good news….

aerial spraying

read more and see end notes at Politics: A View from West Chester, 8/9/16

Zika Surge in Miami Neighborhood Prompts Travel Warning

By PAM BELLUCK, New York Times, AUG. 1, 2016,

This excerpt details why we find reliance on pesticides to solve mosquito problems not only undesirable but potentially unreliable:

…Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the C.D.C., said that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, has proved to be a wily adversary in Wynwood, a crowded, urban neighborhood in north Miami where all the cases were found. The mosquito may be resistant to the insecticides being used or may be able to hide in standing water.

“Aggressive mosquito control measures don’t seem to be working as well as we would like,” he said in a press briefing on Monday.

The authorities had expected additional cases of Zika infection linked to the neighborhood, he said. But officials were particularly concerned by indications over the weekend that “moderately high” numbers of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and their larvae were still being found in a one-square-mile section in Wynwood, an area of warehouses, art galleries, restaurants, bars, apartments and condominiums….

read the full article at New York Times

Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks. The TENDR Consensus Statement

NIH, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 124, issue 7, July 2016

SUMMARY: Children in America today are at an unacceptably high risk of developing neurodevelopmental disorders that affect the brain and nervous system including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disabilities, and other learning and behavioral disabilities. These are complex disorders with multiple causes—genetic, social, and environmental. The contribution of toxic chemicals to these disorders can be prevented. APPROACH: Leading scientific and medical experts, along with children’s health advocates, came together in 2015 under the auspices of Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks to issue a call to action to reduce widespread exposures to chemicals that interfere with fetal and children’s brain development. Based on the available scientific evidence, the TENDR authors have identified prime examples of toxic chemicals and pollutants that increase children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. These include chemicals that are used extensively in consumer products and that have become widespread in the environment. Some are chemicals to which children and pregnant women are regularly exposed, and they are detected in the bodies of virtually all Americans in national surveys conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of chemicals in industrial and consumer products undergo almost no testing for developmental neurotoxicity or other health effects….

keep reading at Environmental Health Perspectives

EPA: Pesticide Environmental Stewardship

Managed by the US EPA, “The Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) is a voluntary membership program that promotes the adoption of innovative, alternative pest control practices such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In becoming a PESP member, you join more than 250 nationally-recognized organizations committed to reducing the human health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use.”

From the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program Application Form:

By completing this application for membership in PESP, we affirm our commitment to the following:

We believe that environmental stewardship is an integral part of pest management practices and will continue to work toward pest management practices that reduce the risks to humans and the environment. As part of our voluntary participation in the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, this organization will develop a Strategic Approach to pesticide risk reduction and implement annual Activities that fall within this Strategic Approach.

We understand that in return, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will seek to foster, fund and promote, through research, education, and other means, the adoption of alternative pest management technologies and practices that enhance pest management and reduce pesticide risk.

The Chester County Health Department is a member of PESP.

Pesticide Environmental Stewardship

We applaud the Chester County Health Department and US Environmental Protection Agency for their commitment to reducing pesticide risks:

“The Chester County Health Department is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program. This program requires participants to affirm that environmental stewardship is an integral part of their integrated pest management (IPM) practice, use current, comprehensive information regarding the life cycle of mosquitoes within their IPM program, educate the community on the benefits of IPM, and demonstrate a commitment to pesticide risk reduction activities.”

(Wording from the County’s 5/19/16 release under the heading “Make your home a Mosquito-FREE zone” at CHESTER COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT).