Against spraying

By a West Chester resident, 8/13/18

I just heard that the Chester County Health Department is planning to do mosquito spraying in much of the Borough this Thursday night (rain date on Monday night). You can find the press release at the County site once they upload it. It was emailed to me.

I am concerned about the spraying from a human and animal health perspective as well as from an environmental perspective. I am involved with a grassroots organization, Don’t Spray Me!, that has been expressing concern about the spraying for years.

Some things that have been uncovered are (and this is just some of what has been discovered):

1. They use a highly toxic pesticide that environmental groups have on their black list.

2. The research on the use of this pesticide has shown that it is highly ineffective as it only kills adult mosquitoes (and the eggs are still able to hatch) whose life cycle is only 2 weeks. The pesticide does harm and kill other beneficial creatures (like bats) that keep the mosquitoes in check. We should leave it up to Mother Nature to keep things in balance.

3. Most counties in PA and other states don’t have a spray program and they don’t have outbreaks of West Nile.

4. When this quadrant was sprayed about 6 years ago, the man who was driving the truck spraying admitted that he didn’t follow the manufacturer’s directions and he sprayed a higher concentration (he went up and down both streets and alleys) and they didn’t cover playground equipment or shut off the spray near water sources (like the manufacturer of the pesticide recommends). I am concerned that the pesticide was not applied safely or according to protocol.

5. We have questioned repeatedly how the Health Department determines their vector index (which is what they use to determine if they will spray or not). Our statistician has found many holes in their calculations and never gets an answer when asked. We recently found out that the man who calculates vector indices is no longer working at the Chester County Health Department.

6. We have repeatedly asked the Health Department to larvacide in areas that we know are an issue like the College Avenue Pumping Station. That is a non-toxic and effective way to address the mosquito population. They do not tell us what they do larvacide.

7. The pesticide is mixed with a catalyst which allows it to stick to the surfaces and therefore stick around for months, and some say for a year. I don’t want that on our streets, on our lawns, and then tracked into our houses. I wouldn’t eat vegetables from a garden after a spray.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. No one can argue that pesticides are safe. I think the general public is more concerned about autoimmune diseases and cancer than West Nile. Did you hear that a man who sued Monsanto was just awarded $289 million dollars because it was proved that his health issues were the result of using Round Up? And there are 4,000 more cases in the pipeline. People are waking up and fighting to protect themselves.

Don’t Spray Me! isn’t saying don’t protect us from West Nile but we are advocating for non-toxic and effective solutions!

If you feel the same way about this issue, you can take 3 actions:

1. Call and email Jeanne Casner, Director of the Chester County Health Department at 610-344-6225, jcasner@chesco.org TODAY!

2. Attend a meeting: Borough Council is holding an emergency meeting Tuesday, August 14th, to hear public comments and make a plan. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Spellman Building (the previous location of West Chester School District Administration Offices), 829 Paoli Pike.

3. Share this message and the importance of attending the meeting with anyone you know.

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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

A Q&A with Margaret Hudgings

By Nathaniel Smith, Columnist, The Times of Chester County, September 29, 2015

An interview with leader of local group questioning mosquito spraying

My opinion piece “Mosquito spraying: why doesn’t the county want to talk about it?” in the Times of Chester County, August 31, asked many questions. Since then I’ve found many answers, including from talking with the County Health Department, and many new questions too. One thing I’ve learned is how complex this subject is, since it depends on the always lively interaction of the human and the scientific.

I think West Chester has a good opportunity now, as this year’s mosquito season trails off, for cooperation between citizens, the Health Department, and the Borough government (and the same could apply in other municipalities.

For now, I have written up an interview with Margaret Hudgings, who has been leading the citizens group (of which I have been part) that is dialoguing with the Health Department and the Borough in an effort to avoid public insecticide spraying if at all possible.

How did you get interested in the issue of mosquito control?

MH: I became interested in mosquito control in 2012, when I realized that the Borough was about to be sprayed with permanone, whose active element permethrin is listed among toxic chemicals in Greenpeace’s “Black List of Pesticides.” Our son became sensitive to chemicals in his early 20’s and so we as a family have become very aware of the chemicals in our environment.

When did you become an activist in this area?

MH: I became an activist this past summer when we realized that once again the County planned to spray in the Borough. After the last dose in 2012, our son became so ill he could not return to his home near Everhart Park for months. After consulting Mayor Comitta, I decided to create a petition and go out in the Borough to talk to our neighbors about their feelings on the County’s pesticide spraying….

read more at The Times of Chester County