(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2010) It’s that time of year again when mosquitoes start breeding and biting, so Beyond Pesticides is releasing a new radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) on how to prevent mosquitoes and toxic pesticides from pestering you. Please send the mosquito prevention PSA below to your local radio station to help spread the word to others and keep your community mosquito- and pesticide-free. Let us know by email or Facebook the radio station’s name, city and state so we can follow-up!
Mosquito Prevention PSA (30-seconds)
“Want to know how to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes and toxic chemicals? Start by dumping standing water around your home and using only safe, pesticide-free insect repellants. Be sure to avoid repellents containing DEET as it can react with other commonly used chemicals as well as with certain medicines. For more information and to get your community to adopt safer mosquito management strategies, call 202-543-5450 or go to www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito. A public service message from Beyond Pesticides.”
Everyone can take a part in preventing mosquitoes. To start with, the best way to manage mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water as it provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Remove or regularly drain all water-retaining objects, such as tin cans, pet dishes, buckets, holes in trees, clogged gutters and down spouts, old tires, birdbaths, trash can lids, and shallow fishless ponds are a few simple places to start. For a complete list of ways to prevent and manage mosquitoes, see Beyond Pesticides factsheet “Backyard Mosquito Management: Practices that do not poison you or the environment.”
Health Effects of Pesticides
Toxic pesticides are commonly used to prevent and attempt to control mosquitoes, yet are unnecessary as safer options are viable. A 2003 study found that mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and malaria developed resistance to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides as a result of a single genetic mutation. Such resistance renders the broadcast spraying of mosquito adulticides and overuse of repellents an inefficient form of control that puts public health and the environment at risk to the chemical’s adverse effects.
A study published earlier this month finds that mosquitoes that are resistant to DEET, the pesticide commonly used to repel the pesky flying insect, can pass this characteristic as a genetic trait onto their offspring. For years scientists have raised concerns about the use of DEET, especially among children. DEET is quickly absorbed through the skin and has caused adverse effects including severe skin reactions such as large blisters and burning sensations. Use of DEET by pregnant woman has been linked to birth defects, and laboratory studies have found that DEET can cause neurological damage, including brain damage in children.
DEET’s synergistic effect with other insecticides is also a major health concern. DEET, when used in combination with permethrin -a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, likely facilitates enhanced dermal absorption of permethrin and induces symptoms such as headache, loss of memory, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and ataxia, which causes an inability to coordinate muscular movements.
There are many least-toxic options for repelling insects that include the use of citronella and other essential oils, like oil of lemon eucalyptus, which has been recommended as an efficacious alternative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Responsible mosquito management can be an effective method of mosquito control. Beyond Pesticides believes the ideal mosquito management strategy emphasizes education, aggressive removal of standing water sources, larval control, monitoring and surveillance for both mosquito-borne illness and pesticide-related illness.
Getting the Word Out and More
If West Nile Virus is a concern in your area, Beyond Pesticides also has several text and Mp3 copies of PSA’s available for distribution.
Include a cover letter to contact your local radio station’s public service announcement manager, in order to give an overview of the announcement and the importance of public education (using the facts provided above). If you are with a local organization, you are welcome to add your organization’s name on to the text. Let us know where you sent the PSA and Beyond Pesticides will follow-up on your behalf.
For more information on safer methods to protect you, your family and community from mosquitoes, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Mosquito Management program page.