Daily News Archive

New York Times Photo Shows Children Drenched with Pesticides Sprayed for Mosquitoes
(from September 20, 2002)

This week's photo story, originally published in the September 1, 2002 issue of The New York Times shows six young boys, approximately 8-12 years old, frolicking behind a mosquito spray truck in Rosedale, Mississippi. Insecticides are sprayed regularly in this poor town in the Mississippi Delta to combat mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus. Direct exposure to human skin is in direct violation of the product label.

It is the position of Beyond Pesticides that spraying pesticides to control adult mosquitoes does not appear to be an effective way to prevent death or illness associated with insect-borne West Nile virus. A large part of this has to do with understanding the life cycle of mosquitoes and their biology. Another large part of this has to do with the inability, especially in an urban environment, to hit target insects with typical ground spraying from trucks or by aerial application. Beyond Pesticides recommends an integrated system that includes monitoring, habitat modification, biological controls and bacterial larvicides.

While recognizing the public health threat of WNV and given limited pesticide spray efficacy, it becomes even more important to recognize the public health hazards associated with widespread pesticide exposure. The pesticides most commonly used across the country are neurotoxic and have been linked to cancer. Children with respiratory problems, such as asthma, are particularly vulnerable to these pesticides and will suffer disproportionately from exposure.

For more information see the West Nile and Mosquito Management project page.