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

West Chester Borough asks County for notification of spraying to all schools

The following letter was presented to the County Commissioners at their Nov. 19 meeting by Borough Council member Bernie Flynn. For further info including a map of locations in West Chester that are not currently covered by state notification requirements, see here.

Borough of West Chester, 401 East Gay Street ▪ West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380, http://www.west-chester.com, 610-692-7574

Borough Council Diane LeBold, President; Michael R. Galey, Esq., Vice President; W. Donald Braceland; Bernard J. Flynn; Michael Stefano; Denise Polk, Ph.D.; William J. Scott, Esq.Mayor Dianne Herrin
Borough Manager Michael A. Perrone, C.B.O.

October 22, 2019

Chester County Commissioners, 313 West Market Street, Suite 6202, West Chester, PA 19380

RE: Notification Process on the Application of Pesticides and Herbicides

Dear Commissioners Kichline, Cozzone, and Farrell,

West Chester Borough Council voted at their September 18, 2019, Council meeting to urge the Chester County Commissioners to require notification to all schools and daycares prior to spraying pesticides and herbicides in the Borough of West Chester. Currently, only public schools are notified. Council believes that all charter, private, independent, and religious schools and daycare centers have a right to be notified prior to spraying pesticides and herbicides within 300 feet of their facility, just as public schools are.

The Borough of West Chester would appreciate your consideration of this request at your next Commissioners’ meeting. Council member Bernie Flynn plans to attend the meeting to follow up with you.

Best regards,

Michael A. Perrone, C.B.O., Borough Manager

C: Borough Council; Robert Kagel, County Administrator

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 before spraying occurs–but not of private, independent and religious schools. This limitation is particularly upsetting because the youngest and therefore most vulnerable children, those in day schools and pre-schools, are specifically not protected by the law.

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).

PA Public School Code sections on pesticide notification

[DSM note: the 2 sections below, added in 2002, are valuable in showing that the Commonwealth has recognized the value of protecting children in school settings against exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides.]

PUBLIC SCHOOL CODE OF 1949
Excerpts re pesticides: sections 772.1 and 772.2PUBLIC SCHOOL CODE OF 1949 Act of Mar. 10, 1949, P.L. 30, No. 14 [as amended] 

Section 772.1.  Integrated Pest Management Programs.–a) Each school shall, by January 1, 2003, adopt an integrated pest management plan in accordance with the integrated pest management policies established by the department on the effective date of this section until regulations are promulgated by the department…

[DSM summary: The Department of Agriculture shall “maintain a hypersensitivity registry to assist in the notification of students and employes who are especially sensitive to pesticides” (defined to include herbicides) and work with schools for that purpose. A school is defined as “a school district, an intermediate unit, an area vocational-technical school or any of these entities acting jointly.”]

Section 772.2.  Notification of Pesticide Treatments at Schools.–(a)  The following apply to pesticide applicators:

(1)  For a pesticide treatment at a school building, the certified applicator or pesticide application technician shall supply the pest control information sheet and a pest control sign, which must be at least eight and one-half by eleven (8 1/2 by 11) inches in size, to the chief administrator or building manager.

(2)  For a pesticide treatment on school grounds, including athletic fields and playgrounds, the certified applicator or pesticide application technician shall supply the pest control information sheet and a pest control sign, which must be at least eight and one-half by eleven (8 1/2 by 11) inches in size, to the chief administrator or grounds manager.

(b)  Responsibilities of schools are as follows:

(1)  Except as provided in clause (3), notification of pesticide treatments shall be as follows:

(i)  For a pesticide treatment at a school building, the school shall be responsible for all of the following:

(A)  Posting the pest control sign received under subsection (a)(1) in an area of common access where individuals are likely to view the sign on a regular basis at least seventy-two (72) hours before and for at least two (2) days following each planned treatment.

(B)  Providing the pest control information sheet received under subsection (a)(1) to every individual working in the school building at least seventy-two (72) hours before each planned treatment.

(C)  Providing notice, including the name, address and telephone number of the applicator providing the treatment, day of treatment and pesticide to be utilized, to the parents or guardians of students enrolled in the school at least seventy-two (72) hours before each planned treatment as follows:

(I)  notice to all parents or guardians utilizing normal school communications procedures; or

(II)  notice to a list of interested parents or guardians who at the beginning of each school year or upon the child’s enrollment requested notification of individual application of pesticides….

[DSM summary: Pesticide (including herbicide) applicators must supply information about the pest control chemical plus a sign. The school must, at least 72 hours before the planned treatment, post the sign and provide the pest control information sheet to all working in the building plus all parents of students (or all parents who have requested notification, if the school sets up a notification system. Also, ” pesticides may not be applied within a school building where students are expected to be present for normal academic instruction or organized extracurricular activities within seven (7) hours following the application or on school grounds where students will be in the immediate vicinity for normal academic instruction or organized extracurricular activities within seven (7) hours following the application.

Notification requirements to schools and families are extensive enough that spraying agencies and companies would just rather not spray than go through the required process and stir up rightful public concern about their operations around the young.]

[Download the full wording of both sections here: School Code PA pesticides 772. See the PA Department of Agriculture summary of the law here.]