10 Reasons You’d Have To Be Insane To Support Mosquito Spraying: An Open Letter to the Pittsfield Parks Commission

To: Board of Park Commissioners, City of Pittsfield

 John Herman <jphermanod@verizon.net>,
 Clifford Nilan <clifford.nilan@jud.state.ma.us>,
 Simon Muil <simonmuil@hotmail.com>,
 Michelle Matthews <michele5610@aol.com>,
 Anthony DeMartino <ademartino@berkshireorthopaedics.com>

I am writing to ask the Parks Commission to please refuse permission this year to Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project to spray a dangerous mix of toxic, carcinogenic, flammable chemicals into Pittsfield Parks this summer.  

Contrary to what you and other local officials have been told by BCMCP in past years, extensive scientific evidence has been published demonstrating both very real dangers, and also a lack of any demonstrable gain, to truck based spraying of pyrethroid based insecticides.  The following are some very troubling facts about this program.

-Only 7 out of 32 Berkshire County towns participate in the Mosquito Control project.  To date there there has been absolutely no published evidence or indication of substantially reduced mosquito populations or any reduction in the likelihood of contracting a mosquito-borne illness through this methodology.
Pyrethroids (see additional citations below):
-Pyrethroid chemicals Sumithrin, Prallethrin contained in the DUET product used by BCMCP are classed as “neuropoisons” by the World Health Organization
-These pyrethroids have a demonstrated association with cancerous tumors in mammals, and ongoing exposure has been linked to blood biochemical changes in humans
-They are extremely toxic to bees and fish, and have been identified as a contributing cause to the worldwide ecological catastrophe of Colony Collapse Disorder
-Contrary to claims, pyrethroids can persists in soil for weeks or months.  http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/25677.pdf
-DUET spray also contains propane, napthalene, and trimethyl benzene, for a combination of flammability, carcinogenic and genetic-damage causing effects
-One of the *non-insecticide* ingredients in the Duet product used by Berkshire Mosquito Control, Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO), is incredibly toxic, and has been linked to delayed mental development in children in two major studies at Columbia and Duke Universities.  PBO also can persist for weeks before breaking down in the environment under certain conditions
-A  2006 study conducted in the Boston area found aerosol plumes of from truck based spraying failed to contact the target mosquito groups, and concluded that “may not effectively reduce the force of transmission of WNV.”
-A more recent comprehensive analysis of fourteen different communities  found that” The data shows that there is no significant difference in the cases of West Nile virus in communities that spray adulticides compared to those that don’t but use other methods of mosquito control. Therefore, the risks and the costs of adulticiding do not outweigh the benefits.”
-By way of risk comparison, in Massachusetts last year, there was 6 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus and 1 case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, of which there have been only 23 cases in the past decade.  Furthermore there has been nothing to suggest that there is any geographical correlation between these cases and the absence of spraying, as a majority of cases have taken place in counties with more robust participation in mosquito spraying than in the Berkshires, where more than 3/4 of our county towns have not seen fit to participate in this highly questionable program.
Research continues, and truly comprehensive study of what the long term negative effects are of this type of blanket spraying of toxins into the environment has not yet been undertaken, but the existing data clearly demonstrates a clear and significant risk factor for human beings and overall environmental health.  In short, given the information provided, there simply is no rational, scientifically justifiable way that you can approve the taxpayer-funded poisoning of our local parks, in light of the absence of any conclusive evidence that it produces any desirable effect whatsoever in reducing mosquito borne populations.
As the Commissioners sprayingof our public parks, you have a massive responsibility to oversee and protect our park lands for the people of this community, most especially to its children.  I implore you to ask yourself if, given the above information, you can confidently approve this course of action as one that is at all safe or in any way beneficial to Pittsfield residents.
Joe Durwin
Pittsfield Resident   
Estrogenic potential of certain pyrethroid compounds in the MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cell line
Estrogenic and antiprogestagenic activities of pyrethroid insecticides
U.S. EPA. Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. 1995. D-phenothirin (sumithrin) -submission of a 90-day inhalation toxicity study in rats. (EPA ID 06905). Washington, DC, June 13.
U.S. EPA. Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances. 1989. Sumithrin (d-phenothrin) – review of toxicity studies submitted by Sumitomo Chemical Company in support of EAP#1H45283 and EPA Registration No. 10308-6. Memo from E.R. Budd, Health Effects Div. to J.M. Tavano, Registration Div. Washington, D.C., Mar. 16.
 U.S. EPA. Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances. 1989. Sumithirin (d-phenothrin – review of rat reproduction study. Memo from W. Dykstra, Health Effects Div. to J. Tavano, Registration Div. Washington, D.C., Jul. 27
Chemosphere. 2008 Sep;73(3):360-4. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.05.070. Epub 2008 Jul 26.
Human Health Risk Assessment for Prallethrin
Chronic exposure to pyrethroid-based allethrin and prallethrin mosquito repellents alters plasma biochemical profile.