Birmingham and Thornbury get 48-hour warning

[DSM note: This is not what we want to happen. This large residential area on both sides of route 202 in 2 townships contains many dwellings and several bodies of water and streams. Anyone in the area, please try to observe and let us know:

• Are adequate warning posted well in advance so residents and visitors will know to stay out of the way of the spray and take protective measures?
• Did you observe people who were not aware of the recommended precautions?
• Is there a vehicle with a loud speaker in front of the spray truck warning people to stay indoors or leave the vicinity?
• Does the truck spray more than once in any street or on any area?
• Is the spray shut off as the truck approaches a stream or body of water and if so, how many feet away?
• After spraying, what difference do you notice in the number of mosquitoes and other insects such as honey bees and dragonflies?
• Did you notice any effect, either immediate or after a few days, on children, cats, frogs, birds, or bats?
• How long does it take for the adult mosquito population to get back to about what it was before?]

Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Birmingham and Thornbury Townships

News release from Chester County Health Department, 8/8/17, 4:30 p.m.

The Chester County Health Department will conduct a mosquito control treatment spray in portions of Birmingham and Thornbury Townships (map of treatment area). The treatment is scheduled for Thursday, August 10th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm. The rain date for this event is Tuesday, August 15th from 7:45 pm to 11:00 pm.

The Chester County Health Department conducts mosquito control treatment in areas with high levels of mosquito activity and where multiple mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). After exhausting all other available mosquito control strategies, spraying is conducted to reduce residents’ risk of WNV infection. Anyone living in an area where mosquitoes are infected with WNV is at risk, but the risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities. Less than 1% of people infected will develop serious illness. While serious illness can occur in people of any age, people over 60 years of age, people who have received organ transplants, and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are at the greatest risk for serious illness.

The Chester County Health Department uses a truck-mounted sprayer to apply 1.5 ounces of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product (Permanone) per acre of land. The mosquito control spray becomes inactive in just a few hours or with sunshine. Sprays are conducted after sunset, when mosquitoes are most active and bees have returned to their hives. Sprayers are turned off near bodies of water and apiaries to protect aquatic life and bees. The Chester County Health Department also notifies registered beekeepers and residents who are listed as hypersensitive in a designated spray area prior to conducting a spray. People who are concerned about exposure to mosquito control products can reduce their potential for exposure by staying indoors with children and pets when their neighborhood is being sprayed. If you would like to take extra precautions after the spray is completed, you can rinse off outdoor furniture or playground equipment before use.

Although spraying helps to reduce mosquito populations, the Chester County Health Department encourages residents to “Make You and Your Home a Bite-Free Zone” to prevent WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases. Because mosquito-borne diseases are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, residents can reduce their risk by using insect repellent and other personal protection and getting rid of standing water on their property….

read more for general advice at Chester County Health Department

If you are in the purple area on the downloaded map below, the plan is to spray you on Aug. 10 (the same area was sprayed on Sept. 12, 2016):

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

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.

Chester County Health Department WNV releases, summer 2016

“Mosquito control treatment scheduled for East Coventry Township
to control nuisance mosquitoes.” released dated 6/13/16. Spraying was scheduled for June 15 from 8:30 pm to 10:30 p.m. Download the release here: spraying-e-coventry-6-15-16.

“West Nile Virus identified in mosquito sample in Chester County
West,” release dated 7/15/16. The mosquito sample in question was collected in Tredyffrin on July 7. Download the release here: west-nile-idd.

“Mosquito control treatment scheduled for Thornbury and Birmingham Townships
to prevent West Nile Virus,” release dated 9/9/16. Spraying was scheduled for Sept. 13 from 7:30 pm to 11:00 p.m. Download the release here: spraying-thornbury-birmingham-9-13-16

Also hear an interview about Zika virus with Chesco Health Director Jeanne Casner and other staff members on The Julia Journal, WCHE, 1520 AM, 9/29/16.

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

When We Fumigate Flies and Mosquitoes, Are We Poisoning Ourselves?

By Maryam Henein, Truthout. 10/11/15

We arrived at the Las Manos border between Honduras and Nicaragua at nightfall. Our 24-person permaculture group had already been sitting in a van for nearly 24 hours, cruising the Pan-American Highway – the world’s longest “motorable road” – from Guatemala.

As we slowed to a stop behind a long row of cars, we spotted a man with a handkerchief over his face and scant other protective gear. He was curved forward, holding a metal hose and spraying the lower parts of each passing vehicle.

“Poisonous Gases Fumigation Area” was written in Spanish on a looming billboard.
My eyes stung and I began to cough. Whatever had been sprayed was drifting in the air, invisible but poisonous.

Questions flooded into my mind: Why wasn’t the man wearing proper safety equipment like an oxygen mask, overalls, boots and gloves? What were they spraying on the vehicles, specifically the wheels? Did insects really hitch rides on tires? If so, which ones?

As someone who suffers from an autoimmune condition and is extremely sensitive to chemicals, this site freaked me out; it all seemed dangerous and foolish….

read more at Truthout

Forgo the Fog: Alternatives to Mosquito Fogging

Midwest Pesticide Action Center

Summer is peak mosquito season, complete with annoying bites and fears about West Nile virus. While mosquitoes can be a nuisance, Mosquito Abatement Districts (MADs) do not necessarily have to resort to fogging in order to control mosquito populations.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Mosquito Control Association, the airborne spraying of pesticides, commonly called mosquito ‘fogging’, to kill adult mosquitoes is the least effective method to control mosquito populations. Fogging usually consists of spraying or fogging pesticides from the back of a truck or plane.

This method is ineffective because the pesticide only kills those mosquitoes flying in the spray; mosquitoes behind buildings or under vegetation are not affected. Airborne pesticides are particularly harmful as they may be easily ingested by humans and wildlife. Pesticide residue can also be left behind on items kept outdoors, such as children’s toys and outdoor furniture, or tracked inside on shoes. Since fogging also kills insects that eat mosquitoes, it can cause future population booms for local mosquitoes….

MPAC recommends three alternatives to fogging…

read more at Midwest Pesticide Action Center

Avoid spraying, prevent mosquito reproduction

By Nathaniel Smith, Columnist, The Times of Chester County, March 28, 2016

If they can’t breed, you don’t need to worry about using pesticides

I recently noticed a newspaper article that is very misleading about the costs and benefits of spraying to control mosquitoes.

The story was much too casual about the use of toxic chemicals in residential properties. It brought out that the insecticides known as pyrethroids, widely used to kill insects, are “EPA approved” but that means, unfortunately, very little. The EPA itself says, among other cautions, that “pyrethroids are toxic to fish and to bees,” and the manufacturers’ instructions are full of warnings as well.

Dangers of spraying pyrethroids

The 256-page Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual points out that, for humans, “Symptoms associated with synthetic pyrethroid insecticides include nausea, dizziness, weakness, nervousness, eye, and skin irritation.”

Pesticide drift is another problem: air-borne spray will not stay within a property line. If I spray my yard with an insecticide, my neighbors may not welcome it drifting onto their organic gardens, their children, and their cats (pyrethroids are toxic to cats)….

read more at The Times of Chester County