Group Warns About Dangers of Aerial Pesticides

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(Press release from Environmental Voices)

ALERT: Dangerous Pesticides Being Aerially Sprayed Over Densely Populated Davis and Woodland. Aerial spraying is scheduled for two consecutive nights between 8:00pm and 12:00am on Wednesday, August 6 and Thursday, August 7 over the cities of Davis and Woodland

The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District (SYMVCD) announced their plan to aerially spray pesticides over the cities of Davis and Woodland on Wednesday, August 6 and Thursday, August 7 from 8 pm to midnight. Aerial spraying will take place over two areas.

The Davis block is approximately 20,000 acres and the boundaries are from County Road 29 on the north, down to Levee Road on the south and from County Road 98 on the west to County Road 105 on the east.

The Woodland block is about 12,000 acres from Churchill Downs Ave on the north, to County Road 25A on the south and from County Road 97 on the west to County Road 102 on the east. For exact spraying locations visit www.FIGHTtheBITE.net.

The chemical being sprayed is an organophosphate under the brand name “Trumpet.” The main component of Trumpet is Naled, which is a cholinesterase inhibitor containing DDVP (Dichlorvos). Naled is toxic to fish, birds, and other wildlife. DDVP is classified by the State of California under Prop 65 as a chemical that causes cancer (class 2B carcinogen). Individuals with certain medical and pre-existing conditions are the most vulnerable.

Naled is also non-discriminatory and will kill beneficial insects including the highly vulnerable bee populations already at risk from neonicotinoids. While adding to the toxic chemical load of the human population, the further destruction of beneficial insects exacerbates the risks by eliminating the natural predators of mosquitoes.

The UC Davis MIND Institute’s recently published CHARGE Study shows association between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides, specifically organophosphates, and autism in offspring. According to the study, pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where organophosphates were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay.

According to principal investigator, researcher, professor, and Vice Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, we need to find ways to reduce exposures to chemical pesticides, particularly for the very young and especially during gestation.

While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) admits that only a miniscule percentage of people have even a remote chance of contracting West Nile virus (WNv), the agency continues to promote massive spraying of urban areas with toxic pesticides, creating health risks for everyone.

According to a recent CDC announcement put out by CNN, about 80% of people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes will not show any visible symptoms or become ill in any way. Of the 20% who do show symptoms, only about .5 of 1 percent will develop more serious symptoms. And, most of these individuals have predisposing conditions, such as weakened immune systems. Statistically, this translates to a virtually zero percent chance that the average person will experience any health problems associated with WNv.

At least one out of three people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. The perceived threat of WNv does not justify exposing entire populations to health destroying pesticide sprays known to increase cancer risks.

Residents in these areas need to be alerted that they will be exposed to this cancer-causing and autism-linked organophosphate. They need to stay inside to avoid breathing the pesticide and keep their windows closed during the spray periods. The days following the spray episodes, they should wash off their gardens and sidewalks to avoid tracking the pesticides into their homes.

We are calling on the SYMVCD to employ safer, more effective methods of mosquito abatement and reduce public health risks by abandoning the dangerous and reckless practice of massive aerial spraying of neurotoxic poisons on the unwary public.

More info available at http://www.stopwestnilesprayingnow.org/

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34 thoughts on “Group Warns About Dangers of Aerial Pesticides”

  1. DavisBurns

    I have native bees in my yard and hope they aren’t harmed. I doubt the autism connection but I don’t want them to spray over my house. Last night they came by several times.

  2. eastdavis

    There should have been better communications with the citizens of Davis and Woodland that this spraying with organophosphates was occurring last night. The Sac-Yolo Mosq Abatement District on their FAQ page recommends that during aerial spraying citizens should stay indoors with the windows closed. And they sprayed with a more toxic and persistent pesticide, the organophosphate Trumpet, last night than they did in 2006. I’m sure many citizens, myself included, were either outside or had their windows open during last nights warm evening.

    As was noted in the Sac Bee in a July 22, 2014 article on the aerial spraying: “One UC Davis scientist says greater precautions should be taken when such chemicals are used, despite the department’s safety declaration.

    “The big concern is the long-term effects that might happen from low level non-acute toxic doses,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, environmental epidemiologist with UC Davis. “My concern is for young children and pregnant mothers.”

    Hertz-Picciotto’s concern arises from a study she co-authored that found a link between a pregnant mother’s geographic proximity to where pesticides are applied and higher rates of children born with autism.

    In that study, the residences of women who bore children with autism were compared to residences of women whose children developed normally. It turned out mothers who bore autistic children were more likely to have lived close to where pesticides like organophosphates were applied to farm fields. Most of the women in the study lived in or near the Sacramento region.

    The study found that children of mothers residing near areas where pyrethroid insecticide was applied just prior to conception or during the third trimester were at greater risk for both autism spectral disorder or developmental problems.”

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/22/6572617/dispute-aired-over-sacramento.html#storylink=cpy

  3. DavisBurns

    My bad! Yes I read the study on autism and pesticide spraying and it makes sense to me. I had two “normal” children conceived when not living near rice fields where pesticides were sprayed. Then I had two children on the mild end of the spectrum (but still seriously impacted) while living in South Natomas where spraying was routine.

  4. dlemongello

    Last night at about 10pm I rode my bike along Drexel between L an J Streets and then back about 10:30 after visiting a friend on J. Both going and coming home at 2 spots about a block apart in front of Holmes Jr. High I encountered severe burning in my eyes; I was wearing eye glasses. During all 4 episodes the pain was extreme but brief as I blinked repeatedly. It seems 2 clouds of the spray had localized there.

    When I got home I rinsed my eyes with drops and today my corneas are somewhat irritated as would be consistent with a chemical burn. Exposing us to this spraying without any choice is WRONG and it is obviously not harmless.

  5. eastdavis

    I can get calls to go vote, get mailings from the city on water rate increases, have a helicopter fly over my neighborhood with a megaphone describing a missing elderly gentleman, but I can’t be notified when a mosquito abatement district decides to fly over my city and spray our homes and backyards? What is wrong with that picture??

  6. DavisBurns

    We were notified they would be spraying but not given a choice. I didn’t see a map until this article. Yesterday we had two bees in the bushes in front. Today there is only one. It will be interesting to see if we lose more. We kill other insects when we spray, insects that are part of the food chain, for that matter Mosquitos are part of the food chain. There is a ripple effect for all the creatures that live in our neighborhoods. They are scheduled to spray again tonight. I don’t know if they will spray the same areas again.

  7. eastdavis

    Yes I did, after the fact, sign up to be notified by the Mosquito Abatement District when they plan to spray. But my point is that there should be coordination with the cities affected and there should be an effort to get the message out to the citizens affected. I think more could have and should have been done to notify us before they started spraying last night.

    They are going to spray again over Davis and Woodland tonight starting at 8:00 PM. If you want to sign up for notifications on future aerial sprayings, you can sign up here: http://www.fightthebite.net/spray-notification/

  8. eastdavis

    After they sprayed in 2006, there was a noticeable reduction in dragonflies in the east davis greenbelts. Also, we noted a drastic reduction in our outdoor and indoor ant problem, which makes me wonder what else is happening to the ecosystem as a result of these broad-scale sprayings?

  9. eastdavis

    From fightthebite.net: Live Update as of Thursday, August 7th 12:07 PM:
    Aerial spraying in Davis and Woodland is scheduled for tonight, Thursday August 7th from 8pm-12am weather permitting.
    and from the FAQs: it is always a good idea to remain indoors and keep windows and doors closed during applications.

  10. DavisBurns

    I absolutely agree, we should have a voice in whether they spray or not and if we do, I don’t know about it. The precautionary principle says: The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.

    I will make a plug for the ubiquitous use of street lights for “public safety” does not take into account the negative consequences on humans and animals of changing eons of evolution with a diurnal cycle of light and dark. If you are concerned about the insect population, you should know that lights that burn all night attract nocturnal insects and disrupt their feeding, mating and reproduction cycles. The installation of a new light in a dark area will cause insects to swarm around it for about two years, after which their numbers are decimated and you will notice a marked decrease in their numbers.

    If you care about humans, here is a 2014 abstract from NIH about humans, electric light at night and breast cancer.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24604162

    1. Frankly

      Why are people more afraid of pesticides that have been tested and approved than they are West Nile. It does not make much sense. Also, many species of bird die from West Nile. Don’t people care about the birds?

      1. Tia Will

        “Why are people more afraid of pesticides that have been tested and approved than they are West Nile. It does not make much sense. Also, many species of bird die from West Nile. Don’t people care about the birds?”

        Tested and approved is not synonymous with safe. Thalidomide had been tested and approved for use in pregnant mothers and was found to be the causative agent in limb reduction defects leaving children without arms and legs. DES had been tested and approved for women when it was discovered to be the causal agent in cervical cancer in their daughters.

        What we are weighing here is one known risk, West Nile virus, against another known risk, distribution of a known toxin by air over a large population of people with variable susceptibilities to that toxin and no reasonable way to avoid its inhalation in minute amounts. I do not have enough knowledge of the margin of safety involved it the quantity applied, however I do know from past medical errors and past environmental problems that this is not a trivial concern.

        1. Tia Will

          “Don’t people care about the birds?”

          On an only slightly lighter note, many birds are dependent on insects as their food supply.
          If one cares about birds one must trade off the possibility of starving them vs the risk of them dying of West Nile virus. Maybe not so straight forward an issue as it seems.

          1. Don Shor

            The birds of concern with West Nile are the corvids. Insect populations rebound quickly (which does raise the question as to the efficacy of spraying for adult mosquitoes). And birds, when they don’t find a local food source, can move to a place where they will find one. This is not a valid ‘tradeoff’.

          2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            “On an only slightly lighter note, many birds are dependent on insects as their food supply.”

            Since West Nile came into our region about 5 years ago, the magpie population has been decimated. There are still a few magpies here and there, but nothing like the status quo ante. The crow population, which was down, seems to have rebounded. Perhaps the difference is that crows are larger birds.

            On the other hand, you say that “many birds are dependent on insects as their food supply.” That is a completely irrelevant point unless you follow that up with the contention that this form of mosquito abatement is actually harming one or more species of birds by denying them their food supply. If that is what you think, Tia, then tell us: Which species are being harmed? Or was it that you really had no relevant point other than to state the obvious that some birds are insectivores? But none of those species are being wiped out or even reduced by limited mosquito abatement, as far as you know?

        2. Don Shor

          I’m very surprised that you are accepting this ‘risk assessment’ tradeoff as it is being presented by the opponents of spraying. The studies cited are correlations regarding cancer and autism, not causation, whereas the risk of neurologic West Nile is very quantifiable.

          Nobody is saying there is a clear link between pesticides and autism or cancer. Nobody has demonstrated that this use of a very low-dose pesticide is going to cause a specific number of cancers or increase in autism. You know very well that those types of studies are useful and interesting but do not draw a direct link. WNV causes a certain number of people to get very sick and die.

          So there is a clear imbalance in the risk assessment here, and it frustrates me to see comments like the risk to the ‘average person’ being minimal — as though we should just tell the elderly, or folks with HIV, or people who are already sick with immune-compromising illnesses that they don’t matter. WNV does kill people in numbers that are predictable. The health department considers that preventable, and uses spraying to prevent it. The methods are pretty old-school and there may be other (though more expensive) ways to go about it. That is a valid argument to make. But the notion that there is an equal risk assessment between the hazards of these low-dose sprays and the hazards of West Nile is, frankly, false.

          Please don’t lend your medical voice to this kind of argument. There are good reasons to object to the spraying, but the risk assessment comparison falls very short of being rational.

          1. Tia Will

            Don

            ” do not have enough knowledge of the margin of safety involved it the quantity applied, however I do know from past medical errors and past environmental problems that this is not a trivial concern.”

            Perhaps I buried this disclaimer to far in to my post to be noted.
            My intent was to be very clear that I do not know the relevant concentrations at which risk would occur. My point was only that the issue should not be trivialized, not that I felt there was any harm in this particular practice. I was certainly not attempting to speak as anyone with special expertise in toxicology and used examples of medical mistakes that have occurred because of people not appreciating dangers from my own field only because those come readily to mind.

            I apologize if anyone thought that I was trying to use my medical knowledge to make specific claims about the risk of Trumpet.

          2. Tia Will

            Don

            One more thought about your comment to me. I think it would be of value when I post if I were to clarify whether I am posting as a concerned citizen or whether I am expressing thoughts based on my medical knowledge.
            I will attempt to make this more clear in future posts. I would like to invite those of you who have special areas of expertise to consider also making the basis of your post clear when there can be ambiguity as there clearly was in mine.

  11. eastdavis

    In today’s Davis Enterprise it says, “The insecticide Trumpet will be dispersed at ultra-low volumes over the cities. It poses minimal risk to humans and the environment, and people do not need to stay inside or close their windows, Rodriguez said.” This is contrary to what is on the FAQ page of fightthebite.net re aerial spraying which says “it is always a good idea to remain indoors and keep windows and doors closed during applications.” And the label for Trumpet says it’s a “restricted use insecticide due to skin and eye corrosivity hazard” and can pose an aspiration pneumonia hazard (see: http://www.fightthebite.net/download/labels/Trumpet-EC-Label.pdf). So I’ll choose to stay inside with my windows closed when they spray tonight. I think Ms Rodriguez did a disservice to the public by saying it was safe to be outside when the spraying occurs.

  12. Dave Hart

    The article in the Enterprise (Sunday or maybe Tuesday) stated that the amount of the insecticide would be about 3/4 oz. per acre. This article doesn’t talk about how much of the material is needed to induce the effects. I have no doubt that the toxicity issues exist, but at what concentration?

  13. eastdavis

    Interesting observation in my garden this am after two eves of aerial spraying. My sunflowers which are usually busy with bee activity are completely absent of bee presence this morning. Creepy.

    1. Christine Casey

      I am an entomologist and manager of the pollinator education garden at UC Davis. I regularly observe bee activity there and at my own bee garden in Woodland, as well as in the honey bee yard in the Entomology Department apiary. I saw no change in bee species diversity, bee numbers, or bee behavior after the two nights of spraying. This includes even the most vulnerable longhorned bee, which spends the night exposed on branches of plants in the sunflower family.

      1. eastdavis

        I observed one honeybee and one carpenter bee in my garden this am. A slight improvement over yesterday. I did not make observations the day before spraying occurred since I didn’t know the spraying was happening. So I have no way of associating the spraying with a reduction in bee activity. At best my observations are anecdotal, but I can say that usually my sunflowers are a busy place for bees, and it’s been pretty quiet the past 2 days.

        1. Don Shor

          Bees and vespids have returned quickly to our garden center. There’s always a mixed population and it seems to be normal today: sweat bees, carpenter bees, mud wasps, and European honeybees all visiting the flowers.

  14. DavisBurns

    I pruned roses and fertilized roses and cut back another plant yesterday. I didn’t wear gloves and by the afternoon I had a painful rash on various places on my fingers with red swollen bumps. The rash was unlike any if had before. It didn’t respond to the ointment I use for atopic dermatitis. I assume I came in contact with some pesticide. So wear gloves in the garden today.

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      I’d be willing to bet that was a psychosomatic reaction.

      I’d be willing to bet that if you told one group of 1,000 people who had run their hands all over roses that they had just been sprayed with a “dangerous” pesticide and you told another group of 1,000 people who had run their hands all over roses that they were “100 percent organic,” you would find a far larger number of people in the former group who developed rashes or other reactions to the “dangerous” pesticide, even though in the experiment all the roses were free of chemical agents.

  15. eastdavis

    It seems the burden of being informed of these aerial sprayings is on the public. The Sac-Yolo mosquito abatement district assumes that people in higher risk categories will sign up to get notices when the spraying occurs. I would argue that that burden of notification should fall on the mosquito abatement districts and the municipalities affected, not the citizens to ensure that sensitive groups are protected.
    Here’s info on health risks and how to reduce exposure from SAFETY OF PESTICIDES USED TO CONTROL ADULT MOSQUITOES, California Department of Health Services, http://www.cdpr.ca.gov%2Fdocs%2Fdept%2Ffactshts%2Fsafety_of_pesticide.pdf:

    7. What are the health risks of ULV spraying for WNV control? Who is at risk?

    There is a small risk that people who have already been sensitized (are allergic) to
    pyrethrins may have an allergic reaction, such as allergic contact dermatitis or
    exacerbation of asthma, if they are re-exposed.

    There is a small chance that people who are chemically sensitive may experience a
    worsening of their chemically-related conditions if they are re-exposed.

    There is a small chance that people with preexisting asthma or chronic respiratory
    conditions may experience a worsening in these conditions if they are exposed.
    Individuals in higher risk categories like those listed above should contact their local
    mosquito control agency for additional information about local mosquito control
    activities.

    All individuals, especially pregnant women, should take simple precautions to avoid
    exposure to pesticides, including those used in mosquito control.

    10. How can pesticide exposure be minimized?

    Although mosquito control pesticides and the techniques used pose low risks, exposure
    to pesticides should be minimized. Some common sense steps to help reduce possible
    exposure to pesticides include:
    • Pay attention to the local media for announcements about spraying and remain
    indoors during applications in the immediate area.
    • People who suffer from chemical sensitivities or feel spraying may aggravate a
    preexisting health condition, may consult their physician or local health
    department and take special measures to avoid exposure.
    • Close windows and turn off window-unit air conditioners when spraying is taking
    place in the immediate area.
    • Do not let children play near or behind truck-mounted applicators when they are
    in use.

  16. Tia Will

    DavisBurns

    Now I am speaking as a doctor. Please just disregard the following if you are not up for a bit of totally unsolicited medical advice.

    What you described does sound like the effects of a contact irritant.
    However, the irritative agent is far from clear. You stated that you fertilized your roses, which would imply to me that you put on some kind of fertilizing agent. Unless this was compost that you, your self prepared, all bets are off as to what ingredients might be in the bag of fertilizer.

    When I see what appears to be a contact irritant rash in my clinic, people’s first comment is frequently “But, I haven’t changed anything. I am using all the same products at home.” This is the point exactly, just misinterpreted. Contact irritants are usually some substance with which we have come in contact with enough times for our immune system to build up a sensitivity. Then at some point, the immune response becomes significant enough to cause us symptoms. I would think that using gloves when gardening in general would be a good idea for you going forward since you have not yet identified the offending substance.

  17. Tia Will

    DavisBurns

    Now I am speaking as a doctor. So please just ignore the following if you are not interested in some totally unsolicited medical commentary.

    The symptoms that you have described do sound like the effects of a contact irritant. Contact irritants can be any substance, but a quick literature search did not show organophosphates or carbamates as likely to be associated with contact irritation. At this point, I think the source of the irritation is unclear. Your post said that you were applying fertilizer. Unless this was you applying compost that you yourself have prepared, all bets are off about the contents of the bag you were using. One of the most common comments I get when assessing a contact irritant in my office is “But I haven’t changed anything. I am using all the same products that I have used for years”. This is an accurate observation, but interpreted erroneously. Contact irritants are most commonly substances that we have used often enough for our immune system to mount a recognition of and response to the offending chemical. It is only when the immune response becomes strong enough that we notice symptoms.
    Until it is clear what the offending agent is, it might be prudent to use gloves when gardening.

    1. Don Shor

      The label of Trumpet insecticide is specific in the precautionary statements as to it being a skin irritant. It is a restricted material with the highest-level Signal Word (Danger). The language of precautionary statements on pesticide labels is very specific; when there is a risk, it is detailed in a particular way. So the statement:

      DANGER. CORROSIVE. Causes irreversible eye and skin damage. Causes skin burns.
      May be fatal if swallowed. Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Do not get
      in eyes, on skin, or on clothing. Do not breathe vapor or spray mist. Prolonged or frequently
      repeated skin contact may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

      … tells us that this particular formulation of Naled could have caused the reaction DavisBurns describes. These statements are intended to give guidance to the applicator, since the greatest risk is to the person who is mixing and spraying. But they do tell us it is a specific risk of Naled in this formulation.
      A problem with aerial application is that it is not completely uniform. The applicator needs to be very careful as to droplet size. Too small, and it just dissipates; too large, and you get too much in some areas.
      The wind speed and direction, and the density of vegetation below, also affect how much pesticide will be on a particular area. Some people are more sensitive than others. And the time of day that DavisBurns was laboring, the humidity, whether he/she was sweaty — all of that will affect skin reaction. When I did pesticide applications in a greenhouse, I was much more likely to get skin irritation than outdoors.
      I always recommend wearing gloves while gardening. Most people are unaware that some garden plants and many soil amendment products can cause skin irritation. In this instance, I also recommend washing off the plants in your garden before you work with them; the material is washable.

  18. Tia Will

    Don

    You are nicely summarizing the uncertainties that I was trying to point out with regard to unknown concentration and individual susceptibility.

    This discussion reminds me of earlier days in medicine before latex had been identified as a
    common and potentially fatal allergen. The common presentation was a nurse using latex gloves (“knonw”
    at the time to be safe) who would notice red patches on the backs of her hands. Correctly assessing that something in the gloves was bothering her hands , she would switch types of gloves. All would be well until in an enclosed space such as a storage closet, she would pop open a box of latex gloves , aerosolize the latex, and have an anaphylactic. reaction.
    It doesn’t take a medical degree to realize that what we don’t know can most certainly hurt us. The only thing my degree provides in this discussion is more anecdotes about such examples than most other blog participants will have.

    The other point of lack of knowledge we have in this regard is differential effects on different populations.
    For example substances that cross the placenta may have a vastly different effect on the fetus during the first few weeks of gestation when there is rapid development of the structure of brain and spinal cord tissues than later in the pregnancy.
    The fact that we have more information about the risks of West Nile Virus should not leave us complacent about what we do not know about pesticide risk.

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