See the video of “Don’t Spray Us!: Panel Discussion on Moving Beyond Pesticides”

“Don’t Spray Us!: Panel Discussion on Moving Beyond Pesticides” on June 17, 2021, brought together knowledgeable panelists to speak to local issues concerning the use of pesticides and the alternatives that may exist. Panelists included Emma Horst-Martz with PennPIRG, Kara Rubio of Women for a Healthy Environment, and Drew Toher with Beyond Pesticides. The discussion was moderated by Professor Cheryl Wanko of West Chester University. View the full discussion at the WCU Office of Sustainability.

Sponsored by the WCU Office of Sustainability, West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environment Alliance.

 

Notes against spraying Bifenthrin

by Alexa Manning at West Chester Green Team rally, June 12, 2021 (for prospective spray locations, see here)

Recently, it has come to our attention that the PA Dept of Agriculture plans to spray the active ingredient Bifenthrin (product name Talstar Professional Insecticide) for the spotted lantern fly (SLF) on thirteen locations in Chester County.

Bifenthrin is a broad-spectrum pyrethroid insecticide that kills insects indiscriminately, including beneficial insects such as bees and other pollinators. This pesticide was registered for use by the EPA in 1985, is in more than 600 products in the U.S. and is classified by the EPA as a possible carcinogen. It interferes with the nervous system of insects that eat it, touch it, or breathe it in. Bifenthrin binds to the soil and has the potential to contaminate surface waters through runoff. It is highly toxic to insects and aquatic organisms such as fish and arthropods. Though toxicity is lower to birds and mammals exposed directly to it, there are potential risks if they eat aquatic organisms because bifenthrin can accumulate in fish and last a long time in the environment.

Information provided to us from the PA Dept of Ag states that they and the USDA continue to support research into biological and other control methods for the SLF. They follow the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) using cultural, mechanical, biologic and targeted chemical treatment techniques available including implementing a quarantine to limit SLF spread, the use of traps, reduction of the favorite host Tree of Heaven, and application of a systemic insecticide to it. These efforts have slowed the spread of the SLF since it was discovered in Berks County in 2014; however, since then the SLF range has expanded significantly.

The decision was made to add this new contact spray into the IPM program this year. Spraying will occur between June and October on properties exhibiting a high risk of enabling long-distance spread of the insect and tend to be on habitats that are highly degraded such as near rail hubs, airports, and industrial centers, with the permission of the property owner/land manager. No set treatment dates are established yet. People listed on the Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry and beekeepers will be notified in advance of spraying.

With the assistance of state representatives and their staff we are waiting to obtain more information from the Dept of Ag about the following questions about this spraying program.

• How far in advance will individuals on the Pesticide Hypersensitivity registry be notified? Will the public be notified in advance?

• What is the notification process and responsibilities of local, county, and state government and private property owners to the public regarding the spraying schedule in advance, at the time, and afterwards?

• Will public signs be posted and what are the other ways notification will take place?

• Who is paying for the spraying?

• Where and how were these specific locations identified and decided upon?

• Where else in PA is the spraying program happening?

• Is there a public comment period?

• What is the current research that states that a pesticide (and this specific one) will be effective in stopping the spread of SLF? If so, where and when did the research and any trials take place?

• If the spraying is targeted to specific locations, how will the effects be monitored and analyzed and for what length of time?

• Have the public and environmental health effects of spraying bifenthrin as well any other pesticides been documented and reported?

• In municipal locations, are schools and public property such as parks and open space affected? Which municipalities have approved this spraying?

These are some of the questions that need to be addressed by the government. Other concerns are welcome.

I would like to share that I am listed on the PA Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry for health reasons. The law requires the people on the registry are to be notified by government and private entities of pesticide applications within 500 feet of one’s property at least one day in advance. In April 2020 we had the unfortunate experience when our entire property (we don’t use pesticides or fertilizers and grown organic plants for food and pollinators) was broadcast sprayed with a chemical mixture of pesticides and fertilizers by a chemical lawn service company. The employee who sprayed did not check the address and did not confirm with the customer next door where this service was contracted. I was not notified by the company in advance of the next-door neighbor’s spraying. Any of these measures could have prevented this from happening.

After I contacted the company and the Dept of Ag, the region Field Pesticide officer contacted me and investigated this incident. We received compensation from the company to rebuild vegetable raised beds, and some of the impacted treated soil in our pollinator gardens. There is the concern that there is pesticide residue in the soil. We would like to have a yard where what we grow and eat is healthy and safe. I hope this never happens again.

Since March, I have received 40 notifications from several chemical lawn treatment companies that regularly service residential properties near us. Unfortunately, there are other companies who have not notified me as is required by law. Then I follow up with them and the Dept of Ag.

Another concern is that companies who apply pesticides are not required by the state to post a sign that an area has been treated. This is only a courtesy. There are many times that I have walked near or on a border of a property that was recently sprayed as was the case when I walked across our front lawn the day we were sprayed in error. This is concerning for everyone, especially people on the registry, children and pets on public parks and private properties. This is the least that we can do: signs need to be posted on public property in advance with the time of application, the name of the pesticide and/or fertilizer, and when it is safe to go on the area.

Pennsylvania needs to allow local and country governments the right to enact and enforce ordinances and regulations to ban or restrict the use of pesticides and fertilizers. State preemption is antithetical to local rule and denies citizens their rights for the public good. This applies to many other issues.

These issues need to be addressed. Please contact your state representatives and the PA Dept of Agriculture now for answers to concerns about SLF spraying, notifications and related issues that prevent local and county governments from making direct decisions.

There are many harmful environmental and health concerns regarding the ubiquitous use of pesticides and fertilizers on land, air, and water in residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial locations. Since the 1950s their use is widespread and commonplace with tremendous ramifications to our health and safety. There are safe, proven alternatives and many resources available. This is a critical environmental issue that affects all of us. We need to take appropriate actions to protect our health and safety. Thank you for concern and for your advocacy.

Paid summer canvassing positions with our good ally PennEnvironment

From PennEnvironment, 6/3/21:

Want to spend your summer building skills that will help you launch your career in activism, working on urgent issues you care about like stopping plastic pollution and reducing bee-killing pesticides?

PennEnvironment has officially launched their door-to-door canvass office this week. They will be going door-to-door engaging with thousands of PA residents about stopping the use of bee-killing pesticides and gathering thousands of petitions urging Amazon to stop selling bee-killing neonic pesticides. It’s going to take all hands on deck, so if you’re interested fill out a lead form below for a paid summer campaign position!

Summer Campaign Job Opportunities: Full Time positions available $10-$15/ hour, Monday-Friday

Find out more and apply at www.summerjobsthatmatter.org

The Fund for the Public Interest is seeking hard-working individuals with a passion for social change to fill citizen outreach and Field Manager positions across the country (including in Philadelphia) this summer. We are hiring full-time positions. As canvassing requires face-to-face interaction with the canvassing team and members of the public, getting vaccinated and following our safety protocols are essential functions of the job and are therefore required for all staff.

Find out more about the campaign to Ask Amazon to stop selling bee killing neonic pesticides

Portsmouth NH having the same problems as West Chester PA…

A New Hampshire activist named Ted Jankowski has been making the case against indiscriminate use of chemicals that can affect both people and the environment.

In an article that someone mistitled “Portsmouth should ban harmful GMOs” (Seacoastonline.com, June 16, 2016), he showed the dangers of Bifenthrin (newly relevant here, as the PA Department of Agriculture is now spreading it around Chester County in a no doubt futile attempt to control spotted lantern fly) and Roundup (which continues its swath of destruction notwithstanding numerous court judgments against its maker Bayer).

And he also showed that the City of Portsmouth was breaking NH state law about advance warning about the use of pesticides and herbicides. It’s hard not to think the same here, as the PA Department of Agriculture is not publicly disclosing where it is spraying Bifenthrin–so how can hypersensitive people (entitled to prior notice of spraying by PA state law) and others avoid exposure?

Read Ted Jankowski’s full article at Seacoastonline.com.

Herbicide and Pesticide Drift

Pesticides and herbicides applied by air drift, of course. That’s the point. If they just fall to the ground, they won’t kill off what they are designed to kill off.

If you are seeing plants on your property droop inexplicably, investigate immediately and try to determine if a neighboring property has been subjected to any recent application of herbicides. If you suspect drift, contact PennState Extension immediately for advice. They may be able to test the plants quickly and determine the cause. See more here.

Of course, keep an eye out for any potential toxics being applied anywhere near you and politely inform neighbors that if the wind is blowing your way, you will be documenting any damage to your plants.

If anyone in your family has a personal sensitivity to chemicals, they should apply to be on the state’s Registry of Pesticide Hypersensitive Individuals; see info here. This registry does not include herbicides and fungicides, but chances are, if your neighbor is into poisons of one sort, their or their “landscaping” company is applying others.

The registry does not prevent spraying, but it requires that you receive advance notice, so that you can act accordingly.

The manufacturer of one anti-mosquito spray commonly applied by truck says that it kills mosquitoes at 300 feet. Draw your own conclusions about the scope of potential damage from such sprays.

Would the state spray us anyhow?

The Chesco Health Department has, in the past, been saying that if they did not spray us, the PA DEP would, whether our county or municipality wanted it or not. In fact, if that happened, it would be the first such case in the state since at least 2000. In December we filed a Right To Know request for DEP to find:

“Records, 2000-2020, of any cases of PA DEP itself spraying for mosquito control A) in counties and municipalities which opposed such spraying, or B) in counties that have their own health departments.”

The answer came back with no such cases of spraying adulticide (that is, spray released from trucks into the air), only 27 cases of PA DEP larviciding in Philadelphia between 2004 and 2016. Don’t Spray Me! supports the use of larvicide, as an environmental way to control mosquitoes before they take wing.

This information may be useful if you hear anyone tell you: “Someone will spray us anyhow, so what does it matter?”

Given the evidence, no community should be sprayed unless they make an informed judgment to accept it.

Roundup et al. and cancer

In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a report identifying glyphosate, malathion and diazinon as probable carcinogens and tetrachlorvinphos and parathion as possible carcinogens (Roundup contains glyphosate but also inert ingredients, some of which the manufacturer is allowed to keep secret):

A Working Group of 17 experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on 3–10 March 2015 to review the available published scientific evidence and evaluate the carcinogenicity of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides: diazinon, glyphosate, malathion, parathion, and tetrachlorvinphos. A summary of the evaluations has now been published in The Lancet Oncology. The detailed assessments will be published as Volume 112 of the IARC Monographs….

Download the IARC report here.

This photo of Roundup-induced skin damage from Wikimedia Commons is not necessarily related to cancer but is certainly a warning sign:

File:Blister_roundup.jpg Tael, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Air pollution increases Covid mortality

Our respectful advice to Chester County:

Now is the time to stop the poisoning of our environment and jeopardizing the health of people and planet. Minority communities are hardest hit by poor air quality. To save lives, call a halt and go organic. Other counties, cities, in fact whole countries have done it. We are happy to provide models for Chester County on request. A first step would be to stop the spraying of any poisonous substance by the County and that includes all pesticides and herbicides. If it has -cide in the title –it kills.

Summary of research by Liam Hudgings: A significant number of studies have found a strong positive relationship between air pollution and the mortality rates due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes, and more specifically Covid-19. Polluted air leads to an increased proclivity to chronic respiratory disease and inflammation, which in turn leads to a susceptibility to SARS viruses.

A Harvard study found that: “if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate matter level by just a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the borough would most likely have seen 248 fewer COVID-19 deaths by this point (April 13, 2020) in the outbreak.”

Furthermore, multiple papers cited below found that even short-term exposure to air pollution had a significant effect on the coronavirus mortality rate. Thus, as the threat of a second wave and even an endemic adoption of COVID-19 into our community remain likely, it is pertinent to evaluate the actions that can be taken to avoid air pollution and other airborne irritants of the respiratory system.

One such irritant is Permethrin, an insecticide that Chester County has sprayed in a fog to kill mosquitoes. Exposure to sprayed pesticide has been proven to cause and exacerbate respiratory issues. Specifically for Permethrin, there is evidence that exposure can induce short-term breathing problems, and higher levels of toxicity have caused irregular breathing patterns in animal test subjects.

While this evidence is by no means conclusive, erring on the side of caution is always advisable, particularly in this case. The spraying of Permethrin is largely justified as a preventative measure for West Nile Virus despite the fact that very few WNV cases are reported in the area.

As the utility of Permethrin spraying is dubious at best, and spraying the pesticide itself presents the possibility of increasing the local COVID-19 mortality rate, it is in the public’s best interest to refrain from spraying.

Air Pollution and COVID-19/ SARS mortality rate, references:

Chen, Bing-Heng. “ Relationship Between Air Pollution and Daily Mortality of Sars in Beijing,” 2005. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ede.0000276437.22928.b8.

Conticini, Edoardo, Bruno Frediani, and Dario Caro. “Can Atmospheric Pollution Be Considered a Co-Factor in Extremely High Level of SARS-CoV-2 Lethality in Northern Italy?” Environmental Pollution 261 (2020): 114465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114465.

Cui, Yan, Zuo-Feng Zhang, John Froines, Jinkou Zhao, Hua Wang, Shun-Zhang Yu, and Roger Detels. “Air Pollution and Case Fatality of SARS in the People’s Republic of China: an Ecologic Study.” Environmental Health 2, no. 1 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069x-2-15.

King, Amanda. “Linking Air Pollution To Higher Coronavirus Death Rates.” Department of Biostatistics, April 13, 2020. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/biostatistics/2020/04/linking-air-pollution-to-higher-coronavirus-death-rates/.

Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry and Application

Public and commercial spray operators are required to give advance notice of spraying to registered individuals, who can then take defensive measures like closing windows and turning off outdoor air feeds, or else try to leave town at the time of the spraying.

To be precise, “pesticide businesses are required to make notifications to you 12 to 72 hours in advance of any pesticide application to an attached structure or an outdoor above ground application that they may make within 500 feet of any location that you have listed in the Registry.”

Unfortunately, we have learned that certain unscrupulous or unqualified spray companies have failed to give the required notification or even sprayed the wrong property. If anything like this happens to you, please contact us so that we can try to help.

In addition, the Chester County Health Department has, at times, granted registered hypersensitive individuals an exclusion zone around their residence to spare them from chemical exposure. However, that exclusion zone may not be large enough to have an effect.

If you feel you qualify, to register you can download the form here: Pesticide Hypersensitivity Application Form(2020). Then print and fill it out, request a physician’s signed approval, and submit it. It is really up to the physician; the state and county have no input. All of us are potentially affected by toxic chemicals, some of us more than others. If you have any doubts, please talk to your doctor.

Further background info at Penn State Extension includes:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) maintains a registry of individuals hypersensitive to pesticides. It is a listing of locations for people who have been verified by a physician to be excessively or abnormally sensitive to pesticides. These hypersensitive individuals may request to have listings of their home, place of employment, school (if a student), and vacation home placed in the Registry. A person will not be considered included in the Registry unless their name appears in the current published Registry.”

Note that you can register not just your home address but up to 4 locations that you yourself may frequent, such as work place, school, or second home.

If you have children in school, be aware that a separate state law grants a higher degree of notification to public schools than to private or religious schools or day cares. The PA School Code requires notification of families and employees of public schools (but not all schools) before spraying occurs. For more on that lack of equity, see here.

Main US Manufacturer Stops Production of Pesticide Chlorpyrifos after Links to Child Health Damage

by Sustainable Pulse Feb 7 2020

Corteva Agriscience will end production of the highly toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos by the end of this year. The company, formerly part of Dow Chemical, has been under increasing scrutiny from environmental and public health advocates for decades and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been in court over the toxic agricultural chemical repeatedly….

read more at Sustainable Pulse