West Chester Area School District policy

The following WCASD policy on pests and weeds was circulated in August, 2019. Download the pdf here: Pesticide Ltr-Eng 8.2019. Compare “PA Public School Code sections on pesticide notification” on our site (note that the law defines “pesticide” to include “herbicide”). We support the IPM approach; for the sake of children, staff and the environment, we hope that every school in the system will conform scrupulously to it and that no spraying will be considered necessary. The unwelcome use of herbicides at one school is documented in the photo below from summer 2019.

The West Chester Area School District uses an integrated pest management (IPM) approach for managing insects, rodents and weeds. Our goal is to protect every student for pesticide exposure by using an IPM approach to pest management. Our IPM approach focuses on making the school building and grounds an unfavorable habitat for these pests by removing food and water sources and eliminating their hiding and breeding places. We accomplish this through routine cleaning and maintenance. We routinely monitor the school building and grounds to detect any pests that are present. The pest monitoring team consists of our building maintenance, office and teaching staffs and includes our students. Pest sightings are reported to our IPM coordinator who evaluates the pest problem and determines the appropriate pest management techniques to address the problem. The techniques can include increases sanitation, modifying storage practice, sealing entry points, physically removing the pests, etc.

From time to time it may be necessary to use chemicals to manage a pest problem. Chemicals will only be used when necessary and will not be routinely applied. When chemicals are used the school will try to use the least toxic products when possible. Applications will be made only when non-authorized persons do not have access to the area(s) being treated. Notices will be posted in the areas 72 hours prior to application and for two days following the applications.

Parents or guardians of students enrolled in the school may request prior notification of specific pesticide applications made at the school. To receive notification, you must be placed on the school’s notification registry. If you would like to be placed on the registry, please complete the online form on the district website, under Departments, Facilities & Operations, IPM Notification Request form. This request must be made annually. If you do not have internet access, please call the Facilities Receptionist at 484-266-1252, to request notification.

If a chemical application must be made to control an emergency pest problem, notice will be provided by email to any parent or guardian who has requested such notification. Exemptions to the notification include disinfectants and antimicrobial products; self-containerized baits placed in areas not accessible to students, and gel-type baits placed in cracks, crevices or voids.

Schools and parks in West Chester Borough

Don’t Spray Me! believes pesticides and herbicides should not be sprayed on any sort of educational institution or in parks where the public, including children, may go unawares shortly after spraying. The PA School Code requires notification of families and employees of public schools (but not all schools) before spraying occurs. Stay tuned for more!

The map below, by Paige Vermeulen, shows schools (from day cares to university) in yellow, parks in green, and a 300 foot buffer zone in orange. Why 300 feet? Because spray drifts, and Bayer says its product DeltaGard kills mosquitoes at 300 feet (see more here).

Study links Deltagard active ingredient deltamethrin exposure to fish embryo malformations

We already know that the common yard product Roundup has been associated with multiple cases of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Now, more and more evidence is mounting that deltamethrin, the active ingredient in Deltagard, causes negative effects when animals are exposed to it.

A recent scientific report from Turkey studied the developmental effects on Zebrafish (Danio rerio) when they are exposed to deltamethrin. Survival rate, hatching, and body malformations were determined after deltamethrin exposure.

The study results showed that DM (deltamethrin) cause body malformations, mortality and and delay hatching, survival rate decreased, and apoptosis increased.

Parlak, Department of Aquaculture, May 2018

The figures above show how survival rate decreased with the concentration of deltamethrin, and malformations increased with concentration.

Deltamethrin easily enters waterways through runoff, which is why it is important to know how Deltagard is affecting our ecosystems. This is also why Deltagard instructions say to not spray the product directly on or adjacent to a waterway. But how can we be sure that when Deltagard trucks spray our lawns and streets in the borough, the poison does not run into the storm drains and affect our wildlife? Also, if deltamethrin has such detrimental effects on zebrafish, who’s to say what unknown effects if may have on insects, birds, dogs, and even humans? As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Reduce your use of Deltagard on your property, and express to the county that you are concerned about the use of Deltagard throughout the borough.

  • Figures from Evaluation of apoptosis, oxidative stress responses, AChE activity and body malformations in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos exposed to deltamethrin

DeltaGard: worrisome specifications

Even if your street isn’t sprayed, don’t think you don’t need to take precautions!

A nearby DeltaGard applicator specialist working with Bayer products and with several decades’ experience in the business, but who does not wish to be identified, 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 information documents high mosquito kill rates at 300 and even 400 feet.

A 2015 EPA memo (download here: EPA deltamethrin-mosquito-adulticide takes as well-founded Bayer’s “mortality” rate as “100% for deltamethrin, even at 300 feet from the point of application.”

This is why we are calling for a buffer zone of at least 300 feet around vulnerable non-targets, such as children in schools and day care centers, registered hypersensitive individuals, bee hives, and bodies of water where fish and amphibians are sickened or killed by pesticides. If mosquitoes are exterminated at that distance, the toxins are a danger to other species as well, including humans, and we know that smaller children are more vulnerable than most adults.

The above-mentioned mortality rate, as the EPA points out, is for “easily controlled” mosquito species as opposed to “those with more widespread resistance to organophosphates and/or pyrethroids.” Naturally, the more that mosquitoes are sprayed with a given pesticide, the more they become resistant to it. Such acquired resistance is a very good reason not to spray at all unless there is a serious health emergency, which becomes more likely as our climate warms and new-to-us mosquito-borne diseases move our way.

You can download the manufacturer’s (that’s Bayer) label for this product here: DeltaGard [label – mosquitos]. Note that this is specifically for the wide-area mosquito spray; other labels yo might see may pertain to other DeltaGard products.

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

This is 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 if spraying occurs! 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. Meteorological help 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! Let’s bear in mind 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.”

Rain or thunderstorms will do the opposite: wash the pesticide, both airborne and deposited on streets and other drainage areas, downhill and directly into surface drainage. If you ever see that happen, please photo the drainage water with a time stamp. Those fresh water fish and invertebrates are important ecological factors!

Beware pesticides when you travel

(And of course at home as well.)

Recent tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic are still under investigation and more than one cause could be at fault. But they, like the recent hefty court judgments against the maker of the herbicide Roundup, are a warning that we can’t be too careful in checking out our surroundings for toxins.

From “Crisis Hits Dominican Republic Over Deaths of U.S. Tourists” by Simon Romero and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, New York Times, 6/23/19:

“Some of the earlier cases did seem to be consistent with organophosphate poisoning,” said Dana B. Barr, a professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Dr. Barr pointed to a case in the United States Virgin Islands in 2015, when a Delaware family of four was seriously injured after being exposed to a pesticide when the apartment below them was fumigated.

In poisoning cases, Dr. Barr said, the problem often stems from the pesticide not being properly contained. The chemicals could seep into a vent that is not adequately sealed, or be sucked inside by a hotel air conditioner///.

In the Virgin Islands case, “Jose Rivera, a Terminix International branch manager in St. Croix, knowingly used banned pesticides containing methyl bromide at several locations in the Virgin Islands, according to the Justice Department.” He was sentenced earlier this year to 12 months in prison and Terminix paid the family, which was sickened with various degrees of paralysis by the pesticide, $90,000,000 in damages–small comfort for the permanent horror they underwent.

According to the AP article later in 2015, the year of the poisoning, “Pesticide that poisoned Delaware family still in use” by Danico Coto in Delaware Online:

The EPA’s regional administrator, Judith Enck, said she and Puerto Rico’s Agriculture Department have found at least several other examples of prohibited chemicals being used at hotels. She recommends anyone staying at a hotel in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands ask if their room has been treated with pesticides and open windows to ventilate it when they arrive just to be safe.

“When you’re on vacation, the last thing you’re thinking about is if your hotel room or Airbnb (rental) is soaked in pesticide,” Enck said. “You’re at their mercy….”

Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, even in Chester County–where can people feel safe unless there is a whole new consciousness of the dangers of spreading toxins around where we live and breathe? And what individual, company or government agency would want to be using these substances when the stakes are as high as death or paralysis… and $90,000,000?

If you love dogs, don’t put chemicals on lawns!

See the paper by Deborah W. Knapp et al., “Detection of herbicides in the urine of pet dogs following home lawn chemical application,” at Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 456–457, 1 July 2013, Pages 34-41.

No surprise: dogs in contact with lawns pick up lawn chemicals, which increase the risk of bladder cancer. And even more sinisterly, “Dogs may serve as sentinels for human exposure.”

To state the obvious: children are more sensitive to pesticides and herbicides than adults are; and children, like dogs, like to romp in grass.

Chemical exposure can harm future generations

This research is a real warning. US testing for harm done by toxic chemicals has long disregarded pregnant women. Recent studies have developed knowledge about epigenetics, the “on-and-off switch” mechanism that adds another layer to Darwin. Fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, bisphenol A, DEET, atrazine, and as we already knew Roundup: all dangerous to people, and now known dangerous for generations. Rats, mice and pigs are often used as stand-ins for humans in medical testing.

Glyphosate Causes Serious Multi-Generational Health Damage to Rats – New WSU Research , Sustainable Pulse, Apr 23 2019

Michael Skinner, a WSU professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues exposed pregnant rats to the herbicide between their eighth and 14th days of gestation. The dose–half the amount expected to show no adverse effect–produced no apparent ill effects on either the parents or the first generation of offspring.

But writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say they saw “dramatic increases” in several pathologies affecting the second and third generations. The second generation had “significant increases” in testis, ovary and mammary gland diseases, as well as obesity. In third-generation males, the researchers saw a 30 percent increase in prostate disease – three times that of a control population. The third generation of females had a 40 percent increase in kidney disease, or four times that of the controls.

More than one-third of the second-generation mothers had unsuccessful pregnancies, with most of those affected dying. Two out of five males and females in the third generation were obese.

Skinner and his colleagues call this phenomenon “generational toxicology” and they’ve seen it over the years in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, the plastics compound bisphenol A, the insect repellent DEET and the herbicide atrazine. At work are epigenetic changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences….

read more at Sustainable Pulse

Bill to ban a toxic pesticide needs your support

H. R. 230 has been proposed for the US Congress to ban all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Basically:

10 chlorpyrifos shall be deemed to generally
11 cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environ-
12 ment due in part to dietary risks to humans posed
13 by residues of that pesticide chemical on food;
14 the Administrator of the Environmental
15 Protection Agency shall cancel the registration of all
16 uses of chlorpyrifos…

Download the bill and see the latest info here.

Contact Chester County rep Chrissy Houlahan to ask her to support the bill here.

Although the EPA banned most residential uses of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos in 2001, it has so far been turned back in banning chlorpyrifos in agriculture and mosquito control.

Although Chester County has not been spraying chloripyrifos to try to kill adult mosquitoes, nothing currently prevents it from doing so.

More background here. Also search chlorpyrifos on our site for posts like here.

Help Get Neurotoxic Pesticide Out of Agriculture

Beyond Pesticides letter to our elected representative in Congress. Sign on here.

Earlier this month, U.S. Representative Nydia Velásquez (D-NY) introduced The Ban Toxic Pesticides Act, H.R.230 which bans the insecticide chlorpyrifos from commerce.

Chlorpyrifos is a toxic chemical that has been linked to damaging and often irreversible health outcomes in workers, pregnant women, and children. As a result of a revised human health risk assessment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a regulation to ban chlorpyrifos in 2016. Under the Trump Administration, the EPA has taken steps to reverse the regulation.

“It’s unconscionable for EPA to turn a blind eye as children and workers are exposed to this poison,” Velázquez said. “If the EPA won’t do its job when it comes to chlorpyrifos, then Congress needs to act – and do so quickly.”

>> Ask your U.S. Representative to Co-Sponsor H.R. 230 to Stop the Use of the Toxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos, which is Damaging Children’s Brains.

Chlorypyrifos is a widely used pesticide. Agriculture companies annually spray 6 million pounds of the substance on crops like citrus, apples, and cherries. In the same family as Sarin gas, the substance was initially developed prior to World War II as a chemical weapon. It can overstimulate the nervous system to cause nausea, dizziness, and confusion. With very high exposures (accidents or spills), it can cause respiratory paralysis and even death. When applying the chemical to fields, workers must wear protective garments such as respirators. Workers are then blocked from entering the fields from 24 hours up to 5 days after application due to the chemical exposure risk.

In August, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement its previous proposed ban of the chemical in the U.S. However, the Administration is appealing the ruling, seeking to prevent implementation of the Obama-era ban.

Rep. Valázaquez states, “As long as there are efforts underway in the courts or administratively to undo the ban on this toxic pesticide, I’ll be working to see chlorypyrifos removed from commerce through the legislative process.”

There is a strong recent history of action of introducing legislation to remove chlorpyrifos from use. The same legislation being proposed by Valazquez was introduced in the last Congress as H.R. 3380, Pesticide Protection Act (2017). In the closing days of the 115th Congress, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i) introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos. The Prohibit Chlorpyrifos Poisoning Students Act (S. 3764) would elevate Hawai’i’s state ban to the national level, banning the use of the chemical near (within 300 feet of) schools in 2019 and banning its sale and distribution altogether the following year. The legislation follows a 2017 bill introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act, S. 1624, that deems any food with chlorpyrifos residues to be adulterated and therefore illegal.

EPA negotiated a cancellation of all residential uses (with the exception of golf courses and disease-carrying mosquitoes) in 2000 after finding significant neurotoxic effects on children. In June, 2018, Hawai’i became the first state to ban chlorpyrifos, effective 2022.

Given the abundant research demonstrating deleterious effects of chlorpyrifos on human health –including a 2016 EPA human risk assessment that found the agency’s exposure threshold is exceeded for children, and citing concerns about chlorpyrifos levels in the air in schools, homes, and communities — it is critical to support a complete ban on the chemical.

H.R. 230 has 56 house representative co-sponsors. If your representative has already signed on, you will be prompted to send them a thank you note that encourages them to keep advocating for human and environmental health.

>> Ask your U.S. Representative to Co-Sponsor H.R. 230 to Stop the Use of the Toxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos, which is Damaging Children’s Brains. .

“Poisoning Paradise”: new film on pesticides and fighting back

“Poisoning Paradise,” produced by Pierce Brosnan, about pesticides in Hawaii. 7 p.m., Friday November 2, room 101 BPMC, 50 Sharpless St, West Chester, PA 19383. What are your health risks from chemical exposure? Let’s talk about it.

Sponsored by West Chester University, Sierra Club, PennFuture, PennEnvironment, and Don’t Spray Me!

Expert panel, Q&A, activities for children, refreshments, tours of the LEED-certified Business and Public Management Center, community group displays. Brief presentation of 2018 awards by West Goshen supervisor Chris Pielli and SEPA Sierra Club leader Jim Wylie.

Park across Sharpless St. in the public parking garage or in metered spaces on Sharpless or Church St. (on-street parking should be free on this evening; check wording on the meter).

Environmental film series, first Fridays in fall, film at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30.

Trailer here.