Daily News Archive
From August 16, 2006
Renew Inefficient Spray Campaigns
Communities are choosing what they perceive as a “safer” class of pesticide, pyrethroids, to blanket their homes and streets. However, synthetic pyrethroids or pyrethrins, including such brand names as Anvil 2+2 bring yet another set of human health and environmental impacts to the national stage. These chemicals, derived originally from chrysanthemums, have been engineered to become more toxic in order to be more deadly to the pests they are fighting. Unfortunately for those believing their claim of safety, this means that they are toxic for humans as well.
Additionally, they accumulate in the environment, causing serious damage to ecosystems around the treated area. A study of pesticides in bodies of water in the agriculture-dominated Central Valley in California found high levels of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides in stream sediments levels toxic to freshwater bottom dwellers in almost 50 percent of the sampled locations. A follow-up study found high levels of pyrethroids in stream sediments in urban areas in California, resulting from residential use of pyrethroids. In the residential study, pyrethroids are found in every sediment sample, and in half of the samples they cause total or near-total mortality to Hyalella azteca, a small bottom-dwelling crustacean that is generally regarded as a sensitive “warning” species.
Often aerial spraying
is used to treat the area for adult mosquitoes, despite the inefficiency
of adulticiding campaigns and their prohibitive costs. The efficacy
of ground or aerially spraying in densely vegetated or urban areas is
highly questionable. According to one of the nation's foremost experts
on pesticide spraying, David Pimentel, Ph.D entomologist at Cornell
University, the effectiveness of ultra low volume aerial spraying ranges
from 42% to 93 %, however only 10%-25 5 of the insecticide actually
reaches the target area. Up to 90 % drifts from the area being targeted.
Dr. Pimentel states that “in order to prove whether pesticides
are effectively killing mosquitos, you need five days of monitoring
mosquito populations before and after the spraying.” Even then,
there may be a population explosion due to the killing of natural predators
or resistance among mosquitos that were not killed. “Without proper
monitoring protocols, we may, in a sense, be giving the public a false
sense of security that spraying is reducing the risk of contracting
WNv or EEE,” says Eileen Gunn, Project Director at Beyond Pesticides.
Take Action: Contact your local radio station programming director and ask how to send a public service announcement. Send on of the three recorded MP3 versions of our public service announcement (PSA) which address the public's role in removing breeding grounds for mosquitos in their own backyards. The text and MP3s, along with a cover letter are available at public service announcements. If you are part of an organization, please feel free to ad your name to the PSA.