Daily News Archive
Use in Texas Homes
(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2003) Officials in Texas
are trying to curb the illegal use of a deadly insecticide, which is commonly
used in residences due to its accessibility from across the border, according
to the Star-Telegram.
Vendors in Mexico bought large batches of the toxic chemical known to
local residents as "polvo de avion," or airplane powder, and
have been selling the white crystal powder in unmarked bags, according
to Miguel Escobedo of the Texas Department of Health, and director of
Public Health Regions 9 and 10. Mexican officials recently attempted to
shut down the trade, yet the chemical is still widespread in Texas and
southern New Mexico.
The airplane powder is actually methyl parathion, which has been banned
for residential use in the U.S. and is allowed only for certain agricultural
uses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This dangerous
chemical can cause a number of symptoms including headaches, dizziness,
muscle twitching, vomiting, diarrhea and general weakness. Long-term effects,
caused by damage to the brain and spinal cord, include blurred vision,
muscle weakness, mental confusion, short-term memory loss and depression.
Since many residents have had access to the chemical since the 1950's,
they are liable to suffer these symptoms from exposure. Those who do and
visit their doctor seldom realize the reason for their illness. Doctors
never connect those symptoms with the pesticide, according to Cecy Rodriguez,
a colonia resident and advocate. "We had to educate the doctors,"
she said. "Do you ask them (patients), 'Do you use pesticides?'"
Other actions are being taken to protect residents from the dangers of
methyl parathion. Last week, Escobedo and others introduced a video on
the dangers of this chemical in order to educate area residents, who are
mainly poor immigrant families. Trained volunteers from the area, known
as promotoras, helped with the video, which is important since these volunteers
generally have the trust of local residents.
Blanca Serrano, with the state Health Department's El Paso Office of Border
Health, stated the next step will be to show the video in the neighborhoods
of El Paso. The department will provide free glue boards - nontoxic insect
traps - after residents view the video.
more information on methyl parathion, contact Beyond