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E-M:/ Spraying Mosquitoes for W. Nile Under Increased Fire


Beyond Pesticides www.beyondpesticides.org

Contact: Jay Feldman or John Kepner  202-543-5450

Effectiveness of Widespread Mosquito Spraying for West Nile Virus In Question

(Washington, DC - August 1, 2003)  As government agencies conduct pesticide
spray programs for West Nile virus, the federal agency responsible for
determining the effectiveness of this practice has not conducted reviews,
as required by law. Meanwhile, local jurisdictions are beginning to ask for
the evidence that spraying their communities with toxic pesticides actually
controls the virus and is worth the health risks associated with widespread
public exposure to the chemicals.

Noted entomologist and Cornell University Professor David Pimentel told an
Ohio audience last month that, "Ground spraying in general is a waste of
money. Most ground spraying is political and has very little to do with
mosquito control."

"We have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the data on
pesticide product effectiveness (efficacy) for public health mosquito
control uses and have been told that there is none," said Jay Feldman,
executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a national environmental
organization. "This is particularly problematic because chemicals like
chlorpyrifos (Dursban), which was phased out for all household uses
beginning in June 2000, continues to be widely sprayed in communities
throughout the country. This is especially troublesome given the
availability of alternative preventive and less toxic management
approaches," said Mr. Feldman. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and
Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that pesticides registered for public
health use are tested for efficacy, but EPA is still in the review process.

Communities across the country are stopping their use of pesticides and
adopting preventive strategies that manage mosquito breeding areas and
educate people to use non-toxic insect repellents. The City of Lyndhurst,
Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, passed a landmark ordinance
on July 7, 2003 prohibiting the spraying of pesticides "in an effort to
help control the spread of the West Nile virus." The City's action follows
a community forum in which a panel of experts on mosquito management and
health effects of pesticides discussed the hazards and the lack of efficacy
associated with the spraying of adulticides, or pesticides used to spray
adult mosquitoes. Other communities, such as Ft. Worth, Texas and
Washington, DC are on record with no-spray policies.

Currently, the insecticides naled (Dibrom) and chlorpyrifos (Dursban), two
of the most toxic organophosphate pesticides on the market, are among the
most common chemicals sprayed for mosquito problems in neighborhoods all
across the United States. Organophosphates are a highly toxic class of
pesticides that affects the central nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory
systems. Symptoms of exposure include: numbness, tingling sensations,
headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating,
incoordination, convulsions, and fatality. Some organophosphates have been
linked to birth defects and cancer. Breakdown times range from a few days
in direct sunlight, to several months. A 1996 study of children exposed to
chlorpyrifos in utero found that extensive and unusual patterns of birth
defects, including brain, nervous system, eyes, ears, palate, teeth, heart,
feet, nipples, and genitalia. Published literature and EPA documents
contain reports that identify similarities in defects found in test animals
and children exposed to chlorpyrifos.

Clark Environmental Mosquito Management, Inc., the maker, applicator and
distributor of Mosquitomist, is traversing the country selling its popular
mosquito control spray, which contains the neurotoxic chlorpyrifos. While
EPA retained the public health mosquito use for chlorpyrifos after banning
home and garden uses in June 2000, continued exposure to this
organophosphate, especially in combination with other pesticides to which
children are exposed, presents a health risk that public health advocates
say is simply unnecessary in light of viable mosquito prevention programs
that are being used successfully in towns across the United States.

Synthetic pyrethroids, such as sumithrin (Anvil) and permethrin, another
class of toxic pesticides that are widely used for mosquito control, have
irritant and sensitizing properties. Because of the similarities to crude
pyrethrum, pyrethroids may act as dermal or respiratory allergens. Contact
dermatitis and asthma-like reactions to exposure have been documented.
Acute exposure can result in nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea,
incoordination, tremors, convulsions, facial flushing and swelling, and
burning and itching sensations. The most severe exposures, documented in
infants, can result in excitation and convulsions leading to paralysis,
accompanied by muscular fibrillation and diarrhea. Death can occur due to
respiratory failure. Permethrin, a possible human carcinogen, has also been
linked to disruption of the endocrine system, introducing a range of
effects that adversely affect childhood development, sexual traits, and
chronic effects later in life.

Beyond Pesticides advises communities to adopt a prevention-oriented
mosquito management plan and has published the Public Health Mosquito
Management Strategy
and The Truth About West Nile Virus: Bad information and fear lead to
dangerous responses
The organization urges people to use herbal repellents even though they may
have to be applied more frequently than DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
products, which are linked neurotoxic effects and carry strict and
unrealistic exposure and use warnings on its  product label. See Beyond
Pesticides chemicalWATCH factsheet on DEET
and synthetic pyrethroids
All this material can be found on www.beyondpesticides.org or by contacting
Beyond Pesticides. Beyond Pesticides also publishes a West Nile Virus
Organizing Manual, which is available in hard copy only.


Jay Feldman
Beyond Pesticides
701 E Street, S.E. Suite 200
Washington DC 20003
202-543-4791 fax

John Kepner

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