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Spraying program raises questions

August 11, 2003

Dear Editor:

I am not an expert on mosquito control or West Nile virus. I am not an insecticide toxicologist or an entomologist. I am not even a resident of Boyle County. I am the concerned mother of an adorable 4-year-old son who will be attending Danville Montessori School. I was concerned last summer when I found out that our property had been sprayed previously in the middle of the night with an insecticide targeting mosquitoes. Questions immediately came to mind. What was the name and toxicity of the chemical used? Had my son played barefoot in the grass the morning following the spraying? What about persons with respiratory problems who may have been sleeping with their windows open? Was residue left on the vegetables in our organic garden? Were there safer ways to control mosquitoes? Mosquito management is a complicated issue especially with public health threats such as West Nile virus.

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There are no easy answers but the questions still need to be asked:

1. Has the City of Danville ever tried a comprehensive larvaciding program with non-toxic larvacides such as Bti for mosquito management?

2. What criteria is used to determine if spraying will be requested from the Department of Agriculture in Frankfort? Is the director of the local health department consulted to see if the West Nile virus surveillance data for the area warrants spraying? Or is the decision made based on citizen complaints? And if so, are those complaints verified or investigated to see if the person making the complaint is unknowingly breeding mosquitoes on his or her own property? Who is responsible for evaluating the risks vs. the benefits of spraying and making the final decision, and does the public have input in this process?

3. It is my understanding that the insecticide which will be used is Mosquitomist One containing chlorpyrifos. Why would chlorpyrifos be allowed for use in neighborhoods as a mosquito spray when it is in the process of being phased out for other residential uses where children might be exposed? Why have decision makers in both Lexington and Louisville chosen different insecticides for mosquito control?

4. Are the active or inert ingredients of the insecticide labeled as neurotoxic, carcinogenic, or triggers for asthma?

5. Does nighttime spraying leave insecticide residue the next morning on outdoor items such as children's toys, outdoor furntiture, or mailboxes and should these items be covered prior to spraying or washed off after spraying? How much residue would be absorbed by skin contact? According to scientific research, how long does it take chlorpyrifos to totally break down in the environment?

6. Is the insecticide harmful to birds, wildlife, pets, or beneficial insects?

7. Will the run-off from the insecticide show up in the water supply?

8. How will the effectiveness of the spraying be evaluated?

9. What is the procedure whereby persons can request, for health or other reasons, that their property not be sprayed with insecticides?

Sandy Rippetoe

Harrodsburg

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