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Aerial Spraying for the Brown Apple Moth to Resume

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2007) The aerial spraying for eradication of the brown apple moth, which has been disputed by environmentalist and concerned residents, is set to resume this week. This is a result of the lifting of the temporary restraining order against the use of the pesticide, in light of the order given by Governor Schwarzenegger that called on the California Department of Food and Agriculture to release the names of the chemical components of the pesticide and then restart spraying. On Friday a Monterey judge determined that the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, did not contain toxic chemicals and lifted the ban instituted October 10. The restraining order was first granted more than 100 residents complained of health problems after the spraying first took place last month over the Monterey peninsula. Environmental groups sued the state claiming that a health safety assessment was never conducted before spraying. That suit is still pending. The lingering concerns prompted the governor to order the state to release the ingredients on Saturday, despite efforts by the manufacturer to keep the contents secret.

California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura, said in a statement on Saturday that the governor supports the public’s right to know every ingredient of the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, “to the maximum extent possible under U.S. trademark law” and that he is confident that full disclosure will confirm that the spray is nontoxic to humans, plants, animals and insects.

However, the inert chemicals in CheckMate LBAM-F have now come under scrutiny by local residents. These inerts ingredients causing concern are: butylated hydroxytoluene, tricaprylyl methyl ammonium chloride, polyvinyl alcohol, and sodium phosphate. These inerts are listed by the US EPA as List 3 – Inerts of unknown toxicity, and List 4B – Other ingredients for which EPA has sufficient information to reasonably conclude that the current use pattern in pesticide products will not adversely affect public health or the environment, respectively.

Suzanne Dowling, a concerned resident, said, “There are health hazards associated with each and every one of the four inert ingredients of the product to be dumped on us.” Concern, not just with the ingredients but also with their concentrations, has prompted groups such as HOPE (Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment) to ask Governor Schwarzenegger to order the state to also release the concentrations of the ingredients found in CheckMate LBAM-F. HOPE has said that it would also appeal the lifting of the ban.

Inert ingredients include many that the EPA has officially determined, under other statutory programs, to be hazardous or toxic. Numerous studies indicate that inert ingredients may enhance the toxicity of pesticide formulations to the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, mitochondria, genetic material and hormone systems (For a discussion, see “Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health”). Under current labeling regulation, inert ingredients do not have to be disclosed.

The pesticide CheckMate LBAM-F works as a pheromone that disrupts the mating cycle of the moth. Least toxic alternatives for pest control include the use of pheromones. However, the uncertainty about inert ingredients included in many pesticide formulations remains a serious concern. Beyond Pesticides advocates for full disclosure of inert ingredients. By ending the secrecy about inert ingredients in pesticides, people will be able to make better decisions about how they manage pests in their homes and their communities.

CheckMate LBAM-F Ingredients: (E)-11-Tetradecen-1-yl acetate, (E,E)–9,11-Tetradecadien-1-yl-acetate, cross linked polyurea polymer, butylated hydroxytoluene, polyvinyl alcohol, tricaprylyl methyl ammonium chloride and sodium phosphate, ammonium phosphate, 1,2-benzisothiozoli-3-one, 2-hydroxyl-4-n-octyloxybenzophenone.

Sources: Houston Chronicle, Santa Cruz Sentinel


10 Responses to “Aerial Spraying for the Brown Apple Moth to Resume”

  1. 1
    christian Says:

    This seems like a big problem. If the chemicals that make up the oesticide in their own are known to be dangerous, then the mixture should also be dangerous. This issue shouldn;t be determined by the courts, but by people with knowledge and authority of this issue. I am glad the governer is taking an active role in his citizens lives and is protecting them. The chemicals in pesticides should be available for everyone to know. I hope the people continue their fight and bring this issue to bigger light.

  2. 2
    Jason Says:

    Too Bad for us. A judge in Santa Cruz County decided today that (despite widespread protest), we will be subjected to ariel sprayings every month for the next year. Since they don’t know what the chemicals do, they reasoned that they can spray until adverse health effects will be an issue. This country sure isn’t what it used to be.

  3. 3
    David Says:

    Thank you for your article on the spraying of our children and our families with untested Checkmate pesticides. I especially appreciate the explanation of the harm which can be caused by the wrongly named “inerts” in pesticides.

    Please let me make a few corrections.

    1. The article states: “Environmental groups sued the state claiming that a health safety assessment …”

    Because it takes a lot of time, expertise, money and effort to file a suit I believe it is important to note that only one group filed suit, the environment and democracy protection group called Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment (HOPE). I am HOPE’s Executive Director.

    A week after your article the County of Santa Cruz filed an almost identical suit to HOPE’s. No one else has filed a suit on this issue.

    2. The article also states: “A Monterey judge determined that the pesticide, CheckMate LBAM-F, did not contain toxic chemicals…”

    The judge made absolutely no determination about whether CheckMate has any toxic chemicals. All he found was that HOPE could not prove to a CERTAINTY that either of the two Checkmate pesticides would cause irreversible harm or had caused the harm to the 117 people reporting symptoms right after the September spraying of our cities.

    Just because we couldn’t prove it, does not mean there is no potentially significant harm to humans or our environment.

    HOPE was handicapped because the ingredient list was kept a secret until AFTER the judge declined to delay the spraying until our suit can be heard. we are working overtime to get the suit in front of the Court before the end of the year.

    3. The article also states: “HOPE has said that it would also appeal the lifting of the ban.”

    By “ban” in the context of your article I believe you mean the Temporary Restraining Order HOPE obtained. HOPE has not said that we would appeal that ruling. However, now that we have a bigger list of the pesticides’ ingredients, we may revisit that.

    -David Dilworth, Executive Director
    831 624-6500
    Box 1495
    Carmel, California, USA

  4. 4
    isabelle Says:

    I am just one of many concerned individuals that have come together in a true grassroots effort in Santa Cruz and Monterey County. We were shocked into action by the failed attempts by both City and County of Santa Cruz to halt the latest aerial spraying campaign. Another law suit, jointly filed in federal court by 4 residents, two SC City Council Members and the Vice-Mayor of Monterey, is still pending.

    The ANALYSIS OF TOXICOLOGY STUDIES was compiled Professor Richard B. Philp, Pharmacologist and Toxicologist at the
    University of Western Ontario, for presentation in the federal court case. It provides damning evidence that long-term aerial application of this synthetic pheromone is not safe for the health of humans and the environment.

    Read on:


    Unfortunately the issue has largely been portrayed in simplistic polarized images. Health complaints have been denied as a case of mass hysteria! We desperately need the help of the scientific community to turn the debate into a productive and fair process!

  5. 5
    Mike Says:

    It is now 11/18/07. I live in Santa Cruz Ca and we were coated by this spray.. Our eyes still burn, nose running with an acid drop, tight chest and bad taste in our mouths.. I tried to rake the leafs in our front yard yesterday and had to stop.. Bad taste and my eyes lite up hurting.. This is horrible. I’ve talked with 42 people who have been sprayed.. 41 are very upset about it and one didn’t give a darn. I think that he was drunk.. If we’re sprayed one more time we’re moving away… but where? .. I see that a few houses still have their tape and plastic covering up windows and doors… We’re normal people here but this time it’s going to be taken to the streets by us.. We’ll go down fighting on this one..

  6. 6
    Barbara Says:

    I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that citizens don’t have any control over their environment. As someone with a medical condition that causes my immune system to become suppressed when I’m exposed to chemicals/ pesticides… which then puts me at risk of getting cancer for the THIRD time… my prayers are with those subject to aerial spraying. I’m glad I read this article so that I can cross Monterey peninsula off my list of a safe place to live. What a shame!!!

  7. 7
    Joey Says:

    Let’s take action! How can we knowingly allow ourselves to be showered with pesticides while we sleep for no good reason. There are safe, effective alternatives, such as “sticky traps” that can deal with the moth issue. We don’t need pesticides!

  8. 8
    Alex Jackson Says:

    Why are we so short sighted. This is not about immediate side effects, it is about long term effects. This is an outrage. Why are people not in the streets for this? It’s all about money isn’t it. But listen to the entomologists! It does NOT work!! Now why can Europe and New Zealand successfully contain this moth with sustainable agriculture, and we can’t??? Think about people with cancer. Their immune system depends on being strong. The more they are being bombarded with poison and (inert ingredients) and other crap the less they have a chance of their treatment being successful or that they stay in remission. Children whose immune systems are still forming, the elderly, the sick, they all are being at great risk. Think about the long term effects. O.K., so you don’t have any symptoms, but you don’t know what you will come down with in 2, 5 or 10 years from now. It’s the CUMULATIVE EFFECT, STUPID!!

  9. 9
    jsutton Says:

    I was in Sacramento yesterday at the Agricultural Committee meeting. The two bills they approved will not stop the plan to spray the Bay Area from being implemented. I was discouraged to see the impassive faces of many of the committee members (even in the face of pleading mothers with babies, seniors, disabled people, etc.) and I realize that they represent big agricultural interests, not the people. The only way that we can influence legislators is to make them believe that a decision to spray will affect their political status. Jerry Brown is planning to run for governor. How about appealing to him? Perhaps he can do something to help, and this would get him many hundreds of thousands of votes from grateful Californians. You can leave him a message on his 800 line. I am told that he listens to all messages.

  10. 10
    Gilbert Pilz Says:

    My daughter has been diagnosed with a genetic condition that limits her body’s ability to eliminate environmental toxins from her system. In her opinion repeated exposure to the inert ingredients in CheckMate would likely lead to my daughter developing some form of cancer. Our options are to (a) keep my daughter indoors for the entire summer (and tape the windows and doors), (b) temporarily move outside the area during the spraying (until the rains come), (c) move out of the area altogether. If the folks in Sacramento are worried about economic impacts, perhaps they should consider declining real estate prices, loss of property tax revenue, and loss of the tourist trade?

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