Daily News Archive
From March 8, 2002

Photo Story Documents Dangerous Mosquito Management

Today's Photo Story kicks off local efforts to curtail community pesticide spray programs pictured here and encourage prevention strategies to minimize mosquito-breeding areas. Mosquito spray programs have escalated in the last two years after West Nile virus was discovered to infect the mosquitoes in New York City. Health officials are concerned that infected mosquitoes will transmit the disease to humans. However, spray programs have been criticized as being a cure worst than the disease and city and towns pest management programs have been identified as spray oriented rather than prevention oriented.

Communities have used neurotoxic and potentially cancer-causing pesticides, including organophosphates like malathion and synthetic pyrethroids like permethrin. Spraying often occurs for adult mosquitoes with little chance of hitting the target pest, but causing widespread human inhalation and dermal exposure. Spraying frequently occurs, as pictured in this Photo Story, at times of the day when mosquitoes are dormant, without adequate precautions taken to protect sprayers or passersby. Officials often advise people to use repellants with N, N diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), despite its serious neurotoxic properties and studies that show it has synergistic effects when its exposure is mixed with other pesticides like permethrin (See Dangerous Chemical Combinations Used to Prevent West Nile Virus). Public education programs aimed at eliminating standing bodies of water around homes, which serve as breeding areas, are limited and ineffective. Efforts to use biological larvicides are also often limited or nonexistent.

Beyond Pesticides is launching an effort to assist local policy makers and public health officials to adopt policies and practices that are protective of public health. Posted here is a draft policy and program document for public review and comment. It is being developed by public health people, who have experience in mosquito management, and citizen organizations that want protection for families and children.

Please send your comments on this document (with the subject line: mosquitoes) by email to [email protected]. We will try to incorporate them in the document as it grows to include new ideas and strategies. For more information on mosquito management and West Nile virus, visit Beyond Pesticides' mosquito webpage.