Jurich: Mosquito spray is so last centuryWritten by Stacy Jurich | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We always have something to complain about. It rains for three weeks and we think it’s ridiculous. When the clouds finally break and the sun blesses us with its glorious heat, we’re annoyed because it’s so hot. And so the story goes. We love summer, but those damn mosquitoes will make us grind our teeth, slap ourselves silly, itch our skin to shreds and curse to the high heavens. We hate them so much that we have decided to poison ourselves. Trucks cruise down the streets of Lucas County from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and spray our yards, gardens, animals, and us with toxins that damage four of our major body systems, poison our food, and threaten our ecosystem.
After more than 60 years of mosquito spray in our neighborhoods, this method of mosquito reduction proves to be ineffective and unsafe. The spray is a contact poison, meaning it must come in contact with the mosquito to kill it, leaving many untouched including the larvae that are waiting in still water to add new mosquitoes to your yard. It lingers for up to a week in the yard (beware pets and children) and much of it can end up inside your home from carriers. Spraying is counterproductive as it also kills mosquitoes’ natural predators, including birds, bats, frogs and dragonflies, allowing mosquitoes to multiply faster than before.
Many people hope that the mosquito spray is preventing mosquito-borne illnesses, however, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 80 percent of the people bitten by West Nile Virus (WNV)-infected mosquitoes experience no symptoms at all and 20 percent get only mild to moderate flu symptoms. There were only four cases of WNV in Ohio in 2010 (no deaths) and only one in 150 people contracts a serious illness from mosquitoes if they are immune-deficient to start. According to the World Resources Institute, spraying might actually make us more susceptible to WNV since the chemicals in the spray attack our immune system (in addition to our respiratory, nervous and reproductive systems).
In a 2003 WNV study, the CDC stated that spraying from a plane or a truck was the least effective form of mosquito control. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, which can collect in buckets, tires, bird baths, bowls, low places, under hose leaks, etc. in your yard. They will live one to two weeks in the water before they hatch. Larvae will not survive if there is motion in the water, from a pump from filter, for example, or if the water is emptied in intervals of less than one week. Fish, ducks, amphibians and bats will also feed on mosquitoes and their larvae. Moving water and adding predators are much more effective and healthier options of mosquito reduction!
Even if spraying was effective, the associated health and environmental risks would not be worth it. Chlorpyrifos is the active ingredient in night-fogging spray and was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2000 from use in household products, but ironically is still used in the spray in our neighborhoods. The CDC found chlorpyrifos in 95 percent of tested Americans as of 2006. Sprayed toxins enter our bodies as we breathe it in from residues on our food in the farmers’ fields and our home and community gardens. Diseases linked to pesticides like chlorpyrifos include: ADHD, Alzheimer’s, asthma, autism, birth defects, cancer, diabetes and more. Additionally, mosquito spray is contributing to colony collapse disorder, responsible for the disappearance of one-third of our honeybee colonies, on which we depend for all of our food.
Section 921.24 of Page’s Ohio Revised Code states, “No person shall transport, store, dispose of, display or distribute any pesticide … in such a manner as to have unreasonable adverse effects on the environment (land, air, humans …)” Baldwin’s Ohio Revised Code states in Chapter 3719.30 that “no person shall leave or deposit … poisons in a common street, alley, lane … or a yard or enclosure occupied by another.” If the chemicals in mosquito spray are known to cause damage to our bodies, our ecosystem, children, are regulated against in the state code and are not proven to be effective in reducing mosquito count, why do we use them?
Choose to opt out of having mosquito spray spread across your yard and into your home. Many homes and community gardens have already chosen to be chemical free. Since this is a spray carried through the air, encourage your neighbors to opt out and create a “spray-free” street and neighborhood in order to have the greatest effect. You can “say nay to spray” by calling Toledo Area Sanitary District (TASD) at (419) 726-7891. For more information visit sites.google.com/site/saynaytospray.