March 8, 2002 - Allen Spalt, director of the Pesticide Education Project at the Agricultural Resources Center in Carrboro, NC, sent this photo which originally ran in the Goldsboro News-Argus, June 21, 2001. The caption read, "Seven Springs [North Carolina] Mayor Jewel Kilpatrick and her son, Sonny, make their way down Main Street on Tuesday, spraying mosquitoes. Mrs. Kilpatrick received her certification in mosquito spraying last year, and the state donated a fogger to the town."
Today's Photo Story kicks off local efforts to curtail community pesticide spray programs pictured here and encourage prevention strategies to minimize mosquito-breeding areas. Mosquito spray programs have escalated in the last two years after West Nile virus was discovered to infect the mosquitoes in New York City. Health officials are concerned that infected mosquitoes will transmit the disease to humans. However, spray programs have been criticized as being a cure worst than the disease and city and towns pest management programs have been identified as spray oriented rather than prevention oriented.
Communities have used neurotoxic and potentially cancer-causing pesticides, including organophosphates like malathion and synthetic pyrethroids like permethrin. Spraying often occurs for adult mosquitoes with little chance of hitting the target pest, but causing widespread human inhalation and dermal exposure. Spraying frequently occurs, as pictured in this Photo Story, at times of the day when mosquitoes are dormant, without adequate precautions taken to protect sprayers or passersby. Officials often advise people to use repellants with N, N diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), despite its serious neurotoxic properties and studies that show it has synergistic effects when its exposure is mixed with other pesticides like permethrin (See Dangerous Chemical Combinations Used to Prevent West Nile Virus). Public education programs aimed at eliminating standing bodies of water around homes, which serve as breeding areas, are limited and ineffective. Efforts to use biological larvicides are also often limited or nonexistent.
Beyond Pesticides is launching an effort to assist local policy makers and public health officials to adopt policies and practices that are protective of public health. Posted here is a draft policy and program document for public review and comment. It is being developed by public health people, who have experience in mosquito management, and citizen organizations that want protection for families and children.
This next photo shows a truck spraying synthetic pyrethroids for mosquito control in Suffolk County, NY, a suburb of New York City. Notice the child riding his bike toward the mist of pesticides. The photo orginally ran in the July 20, 2000 Washington Post, in an article entitled, "N.Y. Battles Mosquito-Borne Disease."
For more information on mosquitoes and West Nile virus or to view the draft policy for community mosquito management, visit Beyond Pesticides' mosquito webpage. Please send your comments on this document (with the subject line: mosquitoes) by email to [email protected]. We will try to incorporate them in the document as it grows to include new ideas and strategies.
Beyond Pesticides launched Photo Stories on March 1, 2002. The photos are updated on a weekly basis. Read the instructions on how to get your photo story featured. To see what other visitors to this site thought about this photo story, visit the reader's comments page.