(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2015) New details emerged last week after a Canadian volunteer group, Pesticide Free Alberta (PFA), received records from the City of Edmonton regarding ground and aerial application of Dursban 2.5, a restricted insecticide (in both Canada and the US), in close proximity to residential areas to kill off mosquito larvae. The coordinator of PFA, Sheryl McCumsey, fought for months for the data to be released.
Health Canada does not recommend using Dursban in areas where children will be exposed, such as homes, parks, school grounds or playing fields, but the City of Edmonton justifies the use of the product by its label language, citing that it can be used in industrial areas. These areas often end up bordering residential neighborhoods and natural lands, such as parks.
The active ingredient in Dursban is chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic insecticide that has been linked to many detrimental health and environmental effects, such as endocrine disruption, reproductive and birth effects, toxicity to birds, bees and aquatic wildlife.In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Dow AgroSciences restricted the sale and use of most home, lawn and garden product due to its health risks for children. However, it is still used agriculturally and for mosquito management.
After the City of Winnipeg, Alberta, voted to phase out Dursban in 2005, Edmonton spent $79, 600 on the cityâ€™s remaining supply. As for phasing out the toxic chemical in Edmonton, â€śsomeone has to be the last person to use it,â€ť said David Aitken, branch manager for community standards. â€śItâ€™s about increasing livability in Edmonton so we can enjoy our summers.â€ť
However, there are many options that donâ€™t involve the use of dangerous pesticides in order to manage mosquitoes and â€śincrease livability to enjoy summers.â€ť The city of Calgary, Alberta has been using a bacterial product for the last 15 years that is environmentally friendly and specific just to mosquitoes. Winnipeg followed suit, using the same product to manage their mosquitoes after Dursban was phased out.
In Sarasota County, Florida, their mosquito control has been breeding mosquito-eating fish, called Gambusia Holbrooki, the first of their kind in the state. These fish feed off of mosquito larvae, so if there is a problem area with mosquitoes, the fish are brought out to manage them. The mosquito control technicians are also equipped with high tech tools that emit powerful sound waves that cause mosquito larvae to explode.
In 2012, one county in New Jersey began using 10,000 tiny shrimp-like crustaceans to eat through mosquito larvae in the countyâ€™s swamps. The crustaceans, known as cope pods, are cousins to crayfish and water fleas, and do not get much bigger than two millimeters. They are voracious predators of mosquito larvae.
Toxic chemicals like chlorpyrifos should never be part of a responsible mosquito management program. Beyond Pesticides can provide alternatives. Â For more information on safe and effective mosquito management strategies, see Beyond Pesticidesâ€™ page on Mosquitoes and Insect Borne Diseases, or contact us at [email protected]. Â
Source: Edmonton Journal
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.