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E-M:/ A Praxis argument ignored by MDA, and MSU in Michigan gets nationalattention.
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- Date: Fri, 01 Aug 2003 12:41:40 -0400
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A Praxis argument ignored by MDA, and MSU in Michigan gets national attention.
FOR IMMIEDIATE RELEASE August 1, 2003
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
"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 (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito/alerts/Lyndhurst%20OH%20ordinance.htm)
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 (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito/reportsandpublications/mosquito%20_strategy.pdf)
and The Truth About West Nile Virus: Bad information and fear lead
to dangerous responses (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pesticidesandyou/spring%2003/truth%20wnv.pdf).
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 (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/pesticides/factsheets/deet.pdf),
and synthetic pyrethroids (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/pesticides/factsheets/Synthetic%20Pyrethroids.pdf).
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.
701 E Street, S.E. Suite 200
Washington DC 20003