Effectiveness of Widespread Mosquito Spraying for West Nile Virus in Question
WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- As mosquito vector control officials rev up their truck-based and aerial pesticide spray programs for West Nile virus (WNv) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), important new evidence on the ineffectiveness of their methods is making headlines in scientific circles. A critical new study by a group of scientists and practitioners, concludes, "We find that ULV applications of resmethrin had little or no impact on the Culex vectors of WNv, even at maximum permitted rates of application, [and] such insecticidal aerosols, delivered from the road, may not effectively reduce the force of transmission of WNv." Recognizing the lack of research on the effectiveness of pesticide spraying, the researchers measured mosquito populations in eastern Massachusetts after a typical resmethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid, spraying. About as many eggs were deposited before the pesticide application as after in both treated and untreated areas. This study, "Efficacy of Resmethrin Aerosols Applied from the Road for Supressing Culex Vectors of West Nile Virus," funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health and led by the Harvard School of Public Health, appears in the June 2006 issue of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. An earlier study on truck-spraying, which appeared in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association (1998), concludes that the average upwind and downwind mosquito kill from truck-mounted spraying to be between 21% and 45%. "Source reduction, the elimination of mosquito larval habitat, remains the most effective and economical method of providing long-term mosquito control, yet communities are reverting to spraying adult mosquitoes with little or no monitoring of effectiveness," says Eileen Gunn, Project Director for Beyond Pesticides, a national environmental organization. Public health officials and environmental groups are equally disturbed by the lack of information officials are providing to the public on the impacts of the chemicals they are spraying. Officials claim the pesticides are safe because they are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- a claim that is illegal to make. Many mosquito control and household insecticides are synthetic pyrethroids, with impacts typical of neurotoxins, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritation. EPA classifies some pyrethroids as possible human carcinogens and many are endocrine disruptors, meaning, even at low levels, they can adversely affect reproduction, sexual development, interfere with the immune system, and increase chances of breast cancer. Last summer, CDC's Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, showed pyrethroids in the urine of more than 50% of the subjects tested. With the threat of WNv and EEE, public health advocates say mosquito control must be conducted in a way that truly reduces the risks of getting the disease and the hazards from harmful pesticides, so that the public is not given a false sense of security. Beyond Pesticides has several publications and activists tools online at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/mosquito.
SOURCE Beyond Pesticides
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