We are a group of concerned citizens living in the Davis/Sacramento area of California who are opposed to the indiscriminate spraying of entire neighborhoods with pesticides, which by their very nature are designed to kill. Many of us are also concerned about the excessive use of pesticides in general, and some of us try to minimize our exposure to these chemicals by buying organic food and/or cultivating organic gardens. The aerial spraying gives us little choice in the matter.
Stop West Nile Spraying Now advocates for the immediate and permanent cessation of spraying adulticides (killing of adult mosquito populations as opposed to larvae), especially in urban areas, for the control of West Nile virus (WNv). Reasons we oppose spraying of adulticides include the following:
Adulticiding has not been shown to lessen
transmission rates of WNv.
When a district resorts to spraying adulticides, it has failed in
control efforts. Any number of effective
Some of the District's own door hangers admit that adulticiding
provides temporary relief. Moreover, the protocols that are
used for the aerial spraying
cannot work, which suggests that the spraying is being done for
political reasons -- so that officials can be perceived as "doing
something" to combat the threat of WNv. We believe that
public-health officials are paid handsomely to do their jobs the
way, following solid scientific and public-health principles,
of having their fingers in the air and being motivated by
the political winds are blowing.
As to risks, adulticiding impacts the
and kills off
mosquito predators, impacts aquatic life, further compromises sick
populations, and can impair immune systems of both humans and
animals. The EPA is roughly halfway through the reclassification
pyrethrin and PBOs. The information coming from the registration
process now indicates that the risk assessments for these
need to be revised because they underestimate harm that can be
when these ingredients are used alone and especially in
with each other. Risks of the large percentage of
ingredients of these toxic mixes, not divulged, are of course
The District uses Evergreen EC
for aerial adulticiding,
which contains 6% pyrethrin, 60% Piperonyl butoxide (PBO),
We are concerned about
the long-term effects of these chemicals on healthy
individuals and the
immediate effects on people with compromised immune systems
children under 6 months of age, whose livers to not yet
necessary enzymes to detoxify the chemicals. However,
spraying is ineffective, there is no good scientific or
reason to do it, independent of any level of risk.
The push to adulticide is based on fear, not fact. Our District and other mosquito control districts are rushing to adulticide after getting an influx of funds from the Governor. The districts are rushing to spray to allay public fears that are driven by media hype. If the media presented a fair and balanced picture of what WNv really is by indicating the small numbers that become infected and the truly small numbers that become seriously ill, the public could better gauge and balance the true threat of adulticiding. The media needs to stop sensationalizing each new case or death.
This risk has been sensationalized in the media for several years. For perspective, consider that 28 people died with West Nile virus in their system (something else may have killed a given individual) in California in 2004, 18 died in 2005, 7 died in 2006, 21 died in 2007, 15 died in 2008, and 4 died in 2009. Compare this to the over 7000 people who die of the flu in California each year -- a Californian is roughly 4000 times more likely to die of the flu. If the money that has been allocated to the spraying were instead spent on outreach to the public and vaccination for the flu, many more lives would be saved. Other localities are now treating WNv as any other seasonal disease.
The process the District undertakes in
when to adulticide
has been badly flawed. The District has not involved the public
only notified the public AFTER the decision to adulticide had been
made. In tendering information the District had left out critical
and intentionally mislead the public. The District has
positions and facts and has refused to sit down and explain its
the communities involved. Most importantly in 2005 the District
offer of compromise and partnership from the Davis community in
the community offered to work with the District and help in
education and larviciding efforts in exchange for a temporary
moratorium on adulticiding so as to give the alternative
time to work. In 2006 the District accepted our offer with a
compromise solution -- we agreed to distribute door hangers in key
areas selected by the District and to canvas various "hot spots"
town and report standing water. We did the canvassing,
distributed the 300 fliers right away, had trouble getting 400
and the District then criticized the volunteer effort.
is very wrong with this picture, when a District with the kind of
SYMVCD has resorts to appealing for volunteers for the very
task of educating the public and indiscriminately sprays the
Even though WNv has been in this country since
1999, the District
was not prepared. We advocate for personal responsibility, along
community involvement and education. These elements, coupled with
increased larviciding and sourcing and abating "hot spots"
work and do not endanger public health or the environment.
District had 5 years to implement very safe and effective biological control methods but did nothing
these lines. The stated reason for not using these methods
that they are not commercially available, but the Sutter-Yuba and
Sac-Yolo mosquito-abatement districts once cultured their own
which were highly successful in inundative releases, and the
is sufficiently well equipped and funded to do so now.
We advocate an approach to controlling mosquito populations and the transmission of WNv that PROTECTS PUBLIC HEALTH based on fact and not fear.
We want the District immediately to develop a new plan for control of WNv that starts from a no-adulticide position, as other communities have done. The District must involve the public, create a public review process, and form a citizens oversight committee. The latter is recommended the CDC.
Our elected officials must restructure the
District to include
public accountability and input to the planning process, as well
make it subject to the initiative process. Clearly some
is necessary for the District in case a serious disease ever
the area, such as malaria or Yellow Fever, but we feel that the
District's irresponsible actions relative to the much less
infective WNv demand a new level of citizen oversight.