01 Dec Floridians are Bugging Out When It Comes to Mosquito Control Practices
Since the 1950s, Florida counties have been conducting aerial and ground mosquito control sprays to target communities where high populations of mosquitoes have been detected. Although it’s banned in the European Union, aerial mosquito spraying with the pesticide “naled” is regarded as the best solution for controlling the number of mosquitoes in a large area. When counties announce they plan to conduct an aerial spray, many people see the mosquito control chemicals, spraying equipment and methods as a risk to human health and the environment. In recent years, many Floridians have been especially vocal when it comes to mosquito control practices as they find themselves too close to the threatening Zika virus in the mosquito haven that is their home state.
What’s Being Sprayed and is it Dangerous?
According to both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a small amount of administered pesticides does not pose a health risk in the sprayed area. Neither the EPA-approved naled, a non-carcinogenic for humas, nor Bti, a bacteria found in soils that produces mosquito larvae-killing toxins, were found as harmful to people, animals crops and water quality when used as directed. Both were found as not harmful to people, animals, crops or the water quality when used as directed. However, at high doses, naled can cause nausea, dizziness, convulsions and respiratory paralysis. The EPA is currently re-evaluating the safety of naled in a routine process, and expects to issue a new human health and ecological risk assessment before the end of 2017.
What’s Happening in the Sunshine State?
When locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus were found in South Florida, home to over 20 million residents, some people embraced the government’s quick action to use aerial mosquito control spraying while others protested. Miami-Dade County residents, mostly from the Wynwood neighborhood, protested at City Hall in September 2016 because of the controversy surrounding naled and claimed that not enough is known about the effects of the pesticide. Earlier in that month, a study had been released showing naled-exposed babies born to Chinese mothers had a slight delay in motor functions. Aerial spraying had been made blame for killing thousands of honey bees in Naples, and other areas, when their hives were left uncovered during a spray.
In October of 2017, a whistleblower letter addressed to the Florida Collier County Mosquito Control District’s board of commissioners alleged that faulty mosquito control equipment and procedural oversights may have caused leaks of naled during an aerial spray over residential areas. Citizens in the area voiced their health complaints after the routine aerial spray, which included chest pain, burning skin and eyes and other abnormal complaints symptoms. Dead geese and residents’ goats were mentioned in the letter as well, resulting in an official investigation into what could have gone wrong. The whistleblower claimed in 2016 the cap to an aircraft’s pressure regulator had broken during an aerial spray, causing an unknown amount of naled to leak into the airstream. They also claimed that the cause of the most recent health complaints was due to another leak during a spray after an aircraft’s hose connected to the pesticide had burst.
However, many people embrace state tactics on mosquito control as a good solution to preventing the further transmission of the Zika virus. Zika can have far worse consequences than aerial naled spraying as infected mothers give birth to babies with severe brain damage and microcephaly. Officials announce aerial and truck spraying well in advance so that residents can take shelter, bring pets and children’s toys indoors before the spraying, keep windows closed and wipe off outdoor furniture and car handles afterwards.
How to Safely Protect Yourself Now – NET effect
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