Stop indiscriminate mosquito spraying in Ord Nebraska

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AN OPEN LETTER
BY CONCERNED PHYSICIANS AND SCIENTISTS
STOP THE INDISCRIMINATE
“FRIENDLY FIRE”
PESTICIDE SPRAYING
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
MASSIVE CHEMICAL PESTICIDE SPRAYING AGAINST MOSQUITOES
CARRYING WEST NILE VIRUS WILL HAVE MANY SERIOUS
DETRIMENTAL CONSEQUENCES, ESPECIALLY ON HUMAN HEALTH.
THE RAMIFICATIONS OF SUCH ACTION WILL RESULT IN FARREACHING
PUBLIC HEALTH, FINANCIAL, LEGAL AND OTHER
PROBLEMS.
INDISCRIMINATE SPRAYING OF PESTICIDES, ESPECIALLY IN HEAVILY
POPULATED URBAN AREAS, IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS TO HUMAN
HEALTH AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT THAN A RELATIVELY
VERY SMALL RISK OF WEST NILE VIRUS.
THE OVERALL WELL-BEING OF OUR POPULATION IS DECLINING AND
WILL CONTINUE TO DECLINE IF WE CONTINUE TO ALLOW OUR
COMMUNITIES TO BE EXPOSED TO PESTICIDES. THOSE INDIVIDUALS
WHO ARE MOST VULNERABLE IN THIS CHEMICAL ACTION AGAINST
MOSQUITOES INCLUDE: CHILDREN, PREGNANT WOMEN, THE
ELDERLY, CHEMICALLY SENSITIVE AND IMMUNOSUPPRESSED
INDIVIDUALS, SUCH AS PATIENTS WITH AIDS AND CANCER, AND
PEOPLE SUFFERING WITH ASTHMA AND OTHER ALLERGIES.
THERE SHOULD BE A WIDESPREAD AWARENESS OF THE FARREACHING
PUBLIC HEALTH, ECOLOGICAL, ENVIRONMENTAL,
ECONOMIC AND LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS OF SUCH MASSIVE
SPRAYING. THERE ARE OTHER, SAFER APPROACHES THAT CAN BE
USED TO CONTROL AND PREVENT THE WEST NILE VIRUS
ENCEPHALITIS.
USING PESTICIDE SPRAYING TO PREVENT WEST NILE VIRUS
ENCEPHALITIS MAY BE COMPARED WITH “FRIENDLY FIRE” – KILLING
ONE’S OWN FRIENDS WHILE INTENDING TO SHOOT AN ENEMY.
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We, the undersigned physicians and scientists, have a particular interest in the impact of
chemical pesticides on human health, and in ensuring that there is a proper widespread
understanding and awareness about this important public health issue.
We want to alert everyone to the little known facts published in peer reviewed scientific
journals, which have far-reaching public health and legal consequences.
There is a widely accepted erroneous belief that mass spraying of pesticides protects the
population against mosquitoes. In fact, the opposite is true: the mass spraying will result in a
deterioration of public health by exposing millions of people to “friendly fire” pesticides.
Ironically, such spraying is especially dangerous to those with impaired immunity for whose
“protection” such spraying is mainly being done.
The health impact of such spraying may affect not only those living in the area but, potentially,
visitors and people living in other regions as well. It has been recognized that even a single
exposure can trigger manifestation of clinical symptoms in predisposed individuals. (1)
Once released into the environment, the spread of pesticides cannot be controlled.
Radioactively traced pesticides spread over the UK were detected 5-7 days later in the southern
USA; traces of insecticides used in tropical areas were detected in the Arctic.(20) Global air
currents, hurricanes, etc., can transport pesticides and other chemicals even to other
hemispheres.(9,20)
The inability to contain the impact of chemical weapons to a desired geographical area was
recognized already during World War I and was the main reason why, after World War I, the use
of chemical weapons was banned by international agreement. (This fact is, unfortunately,
generally not remembered.)
The spraying program poses much more danger to human health than the extremely small
health risk presented by the West Nile Virus itself. Even people bitten by an INFECTED female
mosquito, the carrier of this virus, run very little risk of serious illness.(2,3)
• As reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, the chances of
a mosquito bite resulting in West Nile Virus infection and serious illness is
extremely low.(2)
• The Question and Answer Bulletin of the New York City Department of Health
advises that, "very few mosquitoes -- perhaps only one out of 1,000 -- are
infected. Even if you are bitten by an INFECTED female mosquito, your
chances of developing illness are very small."(3)
• Dr. Gochfeld, Prof. of Environmental and Community Medicine at the Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School and School of Public Health reports(4) that, based
upon his experience and other West Nile Virus epidemics, typically less than one
tenth of one percent of people bitten by infected mosquitoes develop any clinical
signs of disease; in other words less than one in 1000 persons bitten by
INFECTED mosquitoes (see Appendix “A”) will develop some health problem.
• Even those who developed West Nile Virus related illness, usually only have
mild forms with headaches, muscles aches, skin rashes and swollen lymphatic
glands. More serious infections may cause headaches with high fever.(2-4)
• It is extremely rare for a person to develop encephalitis.(2-4) Available
information indicates that those who developed West Nile Virus encephalitis in
the year 1999 (62 people, 7 died) and in the year 2000 (21 people, 2 died) were
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elderly and immunosuppressed. These people were residents of New York
City and the surrounding areas. One person was a Canadian visiting New York.
• Even in cases where death was attributed to West Nile Virus infection, the
cause of death may not have been West Nile Virus. West Nile Virus positivity
could be a coincidental finding because the cause of death may have been some
disease process unrelated to the West Nile Virus. Thousands of individuals who
had no symptoms tested positive for West Nile Virus antibodies, proving that they
were exposed to the virus. They never became ill and were not even aware that
they were infected with West Nile Virus until they were tested.(2)
Compared to the thousands of people who die each year of the flu (approximately 2,500 in
the New York City metropolitan area alone), or the number of children who die of asthma, 9
people in the last two years combined, who tested positive for West Nile Virus and who
subsequently died of encephalitis (mainly elderly and with impaired immunity) in a
population with 10 million people – is an extremely small number.
THE VIRUS IS NOT TRANSMITTED FROM PERSON TO PERSON.(2-4)
The West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, not from person to
person.(2-4) Female mosquitoes acquire the virus when biting an infected bird. The virus must
be repeatedly transferred back and forth between infected mosquitoes and animal reservoirs
(usually birds) before it poses a risk to humans.(2-4)
INEFFICACY OF PESTICIDE SPRAYING
Indiscriminate pesticide spraying over an urban area is an ineffective and very dangerous
attempt at controlling mosquitoes, and thereby controlling the West Nile Virus.(2-4) The
spread of West Nile Virus to birds in 61 of New York’s 62 counties proves that pesticides spraying
is not a successful method of control.
Additionally, not only will repeated spraying fail to eradicate the mosquitoes, the spray program
leads to the survival of those mosquitoes resistant to pesticides. This resistance is passed on
to new generations, leading to endless cycles of increased pesticide spraying each year – the
“pest mill”.
Health officials in New York have already announced they budgeted over $200 million to
continue the spraying in future years. This offer was refused by the pesticide producers
because New York City did not agree to cover the future legal expenses against the pesticide
suppliers from those who develop health problems after mass spraying.
Even the recommended mosquito repellent D.E.E.T. can have serious repercussions. In
1998, D.E.E.T. was found to cause seizures and even death in children.(32,33)
SAFE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO CONTROL MOSQUITOES DO EXIST, AS DESCRIBED LATER IN
THIS OPEN LETTER.
IMPACT OF PESTICIDES ON HUMAN HEALTH
To properly assess the impact of pesticides on human health, it is not enough to view the aerial
and truck spraying in isolation. It is necessary to take into account all other sources of
pesticide exposure as well. The combined impacts of these various exposures and their
interactions (known as "synergistic effects") can strongly increase the harmful consequences of
spraying.(6-9)
Pesticide residues are found everywhere -- in air, water, soil, rain, fog, snow, food, livestock,
wildlife, and body tissues of human beings. Chemical pesticides and other pollutants are
constantly being woven into our bodies. They have been detected in the body tissues of
EVERYONE tested, regardless of country, place of origin, residence, occupation, age, sex or
social class.(9,18)
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"In a survey of 6,800 persons claiming to be
chemically sensitive, 80 percent asserted they knew
'when, where, with what, and how they were made
ill.” Of the 80 percent, 60 percent blamed pesticides."
A joint United States/Canadian study has detected pesticides in the amniotic fluid surrounding
the fetus in one third of human pregnancies.(11) Pesticides and other pollutants have also been
detected in the body tissues of children even before their birth and in the fluid surrounding
the eggs of infertile Canadian women.(9-11) All of these women were residents of major
Canadian cities, without any special history of exposure to pesticides.
The long term and future impact of such exposure is not fully known because throughout the
millions of years of our existence, humanity has never been exposed to chemical pesticides until
recently.
It is known (6-31, 34-38), however, that exposure to chemical pesticide residues, especially if
chronic, even at low levels, can cause:
genetic damage
birth defects
disruption of hormone regulation
defective sexual development
brain damage
Parkinson's Disease
allergies
exacerbation of asthma
cancer
and many other health problems.
Eve
n a
single exposure to pesticides can trigger (5-31,34-38):
latent environmental sensitivities
allergies
chronic fatigue syndrome
behavioral changes such as irritability, anxiety, depression, aggressiveness and
personality changes
concentration difficulties, memory and learning problems
hormone disruption
erectile dysfunction
loss of libido
other health problems.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stated that "Sometimes you've got to make tough choices and
people get angry at you. ... The reality is that danger to human life is more important than birds,
fish and insects." What has not been taken into account is that the danger to human health
caused by the indiscriminate spraying of pesticides is far greater than the danger of
acquiring the West Nile Virus from mosquitoes.
In their book, Chemical Eposures -- Low Levels and High Stakes (4), Nicholas Ashford, Ph.D.,
J.D., associate professor of technology and policy at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology,
and Claudia Miller, M.D., state (1):
Especially disturbing is the finding that predisposition to
cancer and other health problems due to genetic damage
related to pesticide exposure, may be transmitted by
affected individuals not only to their offspring, but also to
further generations.(9)
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THE IMPACT OF CHEMICAL PESTICIDES ON IMMUNITY AND BRAIN
Although some pesticides have been banned or restricted because they were recognized as
posing serious threats to human health, so far little attention has been given to what may be
the greatest danger of pesticides -- impairment of the human immune system.(9-15)
The World Resources Institute's report (15) entitled "Pesticides and the Immune System:
The Public Health Risks," documents the impact of widely used chemical pesticides on the
immunity of animals as well as humans. Their conclusion, based on an extensive body of
experimental and epidemiological research from around the world is that:
The
report by World Resources Institute presents scientific evidence that pesticide-related health
problems are much more serious than is generally acknowledged, and that the steps now
underway to resolve this issue are far from adequate.(15)
In 1999, to quell mosquitoes thought to be carrying West Nile Virus, New York City
aerially sprayed Fyfanon ULV (malathion), a potential cancer-triggering pesticide.
The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation has attributed a 1999 die-off of
thousands of fish in Staten Island to malathion poisoning. The spraying campaign
subsequently affected the Hudson River, Long Island Sound and the Great South Bay,
and has been blamed for causing the largest extermination of lobsters. Roughly eleven
million lobsters, 90 percent of the full population, perished. Connecticut and New York
lobstermen sued the companies that manufacture and apply the pesticides used in
spraying.
In April 1990, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the US Congress released an
extensive report entitled “Neurotoxicity: Identifying and Controlling Poisons of the Nervous
System.”(16) The two top targets of the report are chemical pesticides and pharmaceutical
drugs. The OTA report expresses concern that research projects have not adequately addressed
neurotoxicity of these substances – a major issue for the survival of humanity, as we know
it:
“… very few new and existing chemicals have been evaluated specifically for
neurotoxicity. Of particular concern are the delayed effects of some of the
organophosphate pesticides. Organophosphate and carbamate insecticides are the
most common causes of agricultural poisonings. Malathion, an organophosphate
pesticide, can permanently damage the nervous system after only one
exposure.”(16)
Last year, the pesticides Anvil 10+10 (10 percent sumithrin, 10 percent piperonyl butoxide, and 80
percent "inert" ingredients) and Scourge (resmethrin) were used. Both of these pesticides are
Type I synthethic pyrethroids, manufactured in the laboratory to mimic the natural anti-insect
pyrethrins extracted from chrysanthemum flowers.
Anvil 10+10 is a relatively new pesticide. There have been few tests of any kind on this
product on either animal or human subjects. Although both Anvil 10+10 and Scourge
Impairment of the immune system by chemical
pesticides can lead to allergies, autoimmune
disorders such as lupus and cancer. It may also lead
to infections to which one may be normally
resistant.(9-15) In other words, exposure to spraying
with chemical pesticides may actually increase the
risk of developing West Nile Virus encephalitis.
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have been approved for sale, this approval does not mean they are harmless.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, neither Anvil 10+10 nor
Scourge has ever been tested for their impact on the immune system because "it
has not been required to test for immunity".(17)
Recent research on pyrethroids has found that their mode of action is similar to chlorinated
pesticides such as chlordane and aldrin. These pesticides were banned in the United States in
the 1980's due to their dangerous impact on human health and the environment.
A 1998 study by Drs. Joan Garey and Mary S. Wolff of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New
York, found that the chemical sumithrin, the main pesticide in Anvil 10+10, disrupts human
hormone balance and increases the growth of breast cancer cells in test tubes.(40)
The study concluded: "Overall, our studies imply that each pyrethroid compound is unique in its
ability to influence several cellular pathways. These findings suggest that pyrethroids should be
considered to be hormone disruptors, and their potential to affect endocrine function in humans
and wildlife should be investigated." (40)
ALL LIFE FORMS INCLUDING HUMANS ARE VULNERABLE TO TOXIC EFFECTS OF
PESTICIDES.
It is estimated that 6 to 15 percent of the population is chemically sensitive. If only 10
percent of a 10 million population would be chemically sensitive, the number of people
potentially affected by chemical pesticides, such as Anvil 10+10 and Scourge, (which have
a tendency to cause allergies and neurological problems), could reach 1 million people.
To this 1 million potentially affected people must be added an additional unknown number
of elderly, those with impaired immunity (patients with AIDS, cancer, etc) and children as
well as future offspring of pregnant women; and those who may become sensitized. These
affected people may develop immediate and/or delayed adverse reactions ranging from mild to
life threatening.
Considering the cumulative, multigenerational, and destructive impact of pesticides,
especially on children's development and behavior, it is frightening to imagine the delayed
consequences of repeated pesticide spraying. These consequences will especially serious for
those with allergies or weakened immune systems, cancer, those who are chemically
sensitive, as well as for children and future generations.(6-16, 18-31, 34-38)
Cells are the basic structural unit of plants, insects, animals and human beings. Despite the large
differences in function and shape of our cells, we share the same basic cell blueprint,
including the same basic biochemical metabolic processes, with other living organisms,
including mosquitoes.
Each cell – whether from a plant or an insect or an animal – is a microscopic bag with a
nucleus (apart from red cells), containing chromosomes in the form of DNA, and a fluid
material called cytoplasm. The cell is surrounded by a membrane -- an "outer skin" -- and
contains additional specialized structures such as mitochondria for the generation of
energy.
Because we share the common basic life blueprint with other life forms, chemical pesticides
produce "toxic broad spectrum" impacts, damaging or killing also various useful insects,
animals, and plants as well as damaging human health.
Children’s special susceptibility to pesticides was first widely publicized by the National
Research Council (NRC) in their 1993 report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. The
National Research Council concluded that children are not adequately protected from
pesticides for the following reasons (39):
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• children are exposed to pesticides even during their prenatal development,
because the pesticides and other pollutants are shifted from the bodies of their
mothers through placenta to their body tissues;
• after birth, children receive daily pesticide residues in breast milk and, later,
through food, water and other sources – along with other harmful pollutants;
• on average, children receive more pesticides per body weight than adults
because, for their size they consume more calories, drink more water
(frequently contaminated by pesticides) and eat more fruit and vegetables
(commonly sprayed), and breathe more air (polluted);
• additionally, pesticide impacts are especially destructive in children because
their enzymes are not yet fully functioning and, therefore, they have even more
difficulties eliminating toxic substances than adults.
The National Research Council recommended changes in the regulation of pesticides. Many of
these changes were included in a 1996 law (the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), but have yet
to be fully implemented.(39)
SAFE APPROACH
Dr. Gochfeld, U.S. Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine, states, (Appendix A)
“We should consider the disease itself and the risk to the human population…seven
deaths in a population of over 10 million people over a one year period is certainly tragic, but
pales beside the number of deaths from many other diseases that are addressed less
aggressively.”
It is urgent to educate the general public, media and decision makers that:
• chemical pesticides, including those used to prevent West Nile Virus
encephalitis in New York, cause much more health damage and are much more
harmful to public health than the extremely small health risk presented by
West Nile Virus.
• the West Nile Virus is carried by birds and spread by mosquitoes, and is not
an especially dangerous disease. The only vulnerable people are those who
have reduced immunity – they are much more susceptible to any infection,
exotic or not.
• ultimately, no one can avoid exposure to those pesticides. We all breathe the
same air and live on the same planet.
• there are safe approaches that can be used to control and prevent West Nile
Virus encephalitis.
A combination of the dramatic response in the media, lack of experiences of present generations
of North American health professionals with epidemics other than AIDS, undoubtedly have
contributed to the over-blown and fearful response to this relatively insignificant virus. As
mentioned previously, thousands of people carrying antibodies against West Nile Virus never
experienced any kind of symtoms although they were exposed to it.
Nevertheless, we should develop and re-discover safe approaches for the control of pests -
including mosquitoes. There are safer, more effective ways than chemical pesticides to control
mosquitoes. These methods include disrupting mosquito breeding cycles by removing
stagnant water, etc., as recommended by New York City Department of Health; products such as
Mosquito Magnet, safe natural mosquito repellents, etc.
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Among natural mosquito repellent products containing herbal extracts and oils is Nature 99 Herbal
Extract, a natural repellent containing essential oils from the twigs and leaves of the Eucalyptus
Citriodora plant which has an extraordinarily high content of citronella. Other natural products
include Royal Neem (a blend of herbs, essential oils and aloe), Nature's Body Guard, Zetastop
and Mosquitoex. Combining approaches that prevent and disrupt mosquito breeding cycles
not only avoid damage to human health and the ecosystem, but it will also avert highly expensive
litigation brought about by the current spraying program and the high expenses for such
spraying.
The use of chemical pesticides started about fifty years ago. The chemical pesticides that were
once touted as being a "wonderful, safe approach" to pest control are now known to contaminate
everything, soil, food, water, air, rain, all living forms including our bodies and the bodies of our
children, even before their birth. They are destroying our ecosystem -- and us.
If we do not stop the indiscriminate use of pesticides, we will continue to
endanger our environment and the quality of our own health and more
crucially, the healthy physical and mental development of our children and
future generations.
Pesticides are designed to kill. We share the same life blueprint with other life
forms, including mosquitoes. All chemical pesticides are also harmful to
humans.
For this reason, the indiscriminate mosquito spraying must be stopped and the
unnecessary use of chemical pesticides needs to be abandoned and outlawed.
Such an action will benefit EVERYONE including all stakeholders and their
families – we all breathe the same air, and live on the same planet …
Signed,
(please see next page)
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Prof. Emer. William Rea, M.D.
First World Professioral Chair of
Environmental Medicine,
University of Surrey, UK
Director of Environmental Health Unit
Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
Ed Napke, B.Sc., M.D., DPH.
Former Medical Officer in Charge of the
Canadian Drug Adverse Reaction
Reporting Program and Canadian
Poison Control Program (1965-1989)
Ottawa, Ontario
Prof. Emer. Joseph Cummins, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
Prof. Samuel Epstein
Professor of Environmental and Occupational
Medicine, School of Public Health,
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition
U.S.A.
Libuse Gilka, M.D.
Physicians and Scientists for a
Healthy World
Ottawa, Ontario
Sheldon Krimsky, Ph.D.
Department of Urban & Environmental Policy,
Tufts University
Melford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., G.N.S.U.
International Institute of Concern for Public
Health
Toronto, Ontario
E. Angelopoulos, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology, Parasitology and
Entomology
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Prof. Emer. Ross H. Hall, Ph.D.
Former Chairperson, Department of
Biology McMaster University Health
Science Faculty and Ministry
Environmental Priority Substance Panel
Former Chairperson Health Committee
International Joint Committee
Hamilton, Ontario
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Suppl 8: 205-208 1995.
38. Blair, A., Zahm, S.H., Pearch, N.E., Heineman, E.F. and Fraumeni, J.F.J., Clues to Cancer
Etiology from Studies of Farmers, Scand J Work Environ Health 18:4, 209-215 1992.
39. National Research Council, Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, Washington,
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40. Garey, Joan and Wolff, Mary S., Estrogenic and Antiprogestagenic Activities of Pyrethroid
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This Open Letter is distributed by Staten Island Citizens for Healthy Alternatives (SICHA), the No
Spray Coalition, and SAFE NYC.
Refer all questions and comments to:
K. Barbera, (SICHA)(718) 273-5489 or L. Blois, (SICHA) Blois@Prodigy.net



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