Stop NYC’s New Round of Pesticide Spraying, Now

While being sprayed with Anvil 10+10 pesticides including carcinogenic piperonyl butoxide (2006) without warning, young Sunset Park Brooklyn residents try to cover up.

August 11, 2015 — The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOH) renews its annual pesticide-spraying assault on the people of New York City tonight in Staten Island and Queens.

Areas of New Jersey are also being widely sprayed.

All mass spraying of pyrethroid and organophosphate pesticides are dangerous to human health (especially to children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems), as well as to pets, fish, and other animals. The spraying must be halted immediately.


Every year, the NYC DOH grants itself waivers from New York City Local Law 37, a law passed in 2005 in response to growing concerns over the health and environmental consequences of mass-spraying of Malathion (and other organophosphates) and Anvil 10+10 (and other pyrethroids, especially those containing the carcinogen Piperonyl Butoxide).

Only through application and granting of such waivers is the Department of Health enabled to legally conduct the pesticides spraying.

But the NYC DOH is circumventing the law. It applies for a waiver to itself, and then it grants itself pro forma the right and authority to spray deadly pesticides in NYC. No other agency reviews its application. The checks and balances envisioned in Local Law 37 are thus thwarted.

See, especially, a powerful review in City Limits of the waivers to Local Law 37, here.

The No Spray Coalition, which won its lawsuit against the City government in federal court in 2005 and achieved a settlement agreement two years later, is outraged by the spraying. The City’s Department of Health has failed to seriously consider:

a) the admissions it made concerning the dangers of pesticides in the 2007 stipulated Settlement Agreement with the No Spray Coalition, et al. in federal court; and

b) the 4 pillars for waivers in Local Law 37 (referenced also as a separate point in the Settlement Agreement).

These amount to a violation of the terms of the Settlement Agreement as well as key provisions of Local Law 37.

This year’s spray of choice is, once again, Anvil 10+10. It is listed in Local Law 37 as containing piperonyl butoxide and MGK-284. These are both “synergists” in Anvil 10+10, and they are both classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.

Local Law 37 prohibits the use of pesticides by NYC in public places if they contain PBO and/or MGK-264. Why are they violating their own law?

“After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the New York City government is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City,”

said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD, NY State Against Genetic Engineering, and a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit brought in 2000 by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against the New York City government’s pesticide-spraying campaign. That lawsuit ended in April 2007 when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:

  • may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
  • cause adverse health effects
  • kill mosquitoes’ natural predators (such as dragonflies, bats, frogs and birds)
  • increase mosquitoes’ resistance to the sprays, and
  • are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that there are “no significant risks” of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product. Levi Fishman, deputy press secretary at the Dept. of Health, explained to City Limits reporter Elah Feder:

“When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health. It degrades rapidly in sunlight, provides little or no residual activity, and does not accumulate in the environment.”

Feder immediately pointed out that “nevertheless, the city advises residents to bring children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothing indoors before spraying takes place, and to wash anything that has come in contact with Anvil.” If there are no significant risks, why all that advice?

The fact is, the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

“These ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to ‘save’ us from the so-called West Nile virus,”

said Howard Brandstein, adding:

“Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease.”

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10 — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin (not a naturally occurring pyrethrin), made in the laboratory — as well as dangerous benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”)

Thousands of New Yorkers are severely sickened by the spraying every year, but they go unrecorded and unreported. Several members of the No Spray Coalition, including two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, died from pesticide-related illnesses. Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying.

The City administration must be made to understand that pesticides are extremely dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment, and have long-term consequences.

The No Spray Coalition details the reasons for vacating NYC DOH’s waivers as follows:

  1. The Department of Health has illegally circumvented Local Law 37’s attempt to protect against health and environmental dangers;
  2. The City has entered into a multi-year pattern that misinterprets and misuses blindspots in the law, which in general forbids spraying of toxic pesticides on City lands;
  3. The City has failed to abide by its own admissions in the Settlement Agreement with the No Spray Coalition et al. in 2007, review the latest scientific research, and participate in discussions with the No Spray Coalition in good faith;
  4. The City has failed to evaluate the “public health threat” from pesticide spraying as well as West Nile virus. There has been no Environmental Impact Statement in the last 15 years on which to examine the effects of the spraying;
  5. There have been no public hearings in contradiction to the requirements in Local Law 37 and other regulations;
  6. The City has repeatedly failed to adequately notify the public before spraying pesticides, in violation of Local Law 37 and other regulations, and in violation of the Settlement Agreement;
  7. The City has failed to seriously utilize safer alternatives to pesticide spraying;
  8. The City has failed to respond in a timely fashion to important questions and concerns from NY Assembly member William Colton, and others;
  9. The City is illegally spraying toxic pesticides on the people and environment of New York.

The No Spray Coalition strongly urges the City to stop pesticide spraying immediately, reconsider its entire approach, and seek alternative, safe means to control mosquitoes. There are natural, safe ways for each person to ward off mosquitoes. The City should not be poisoning the entire population.

We call on the Mayor and City Council to hold the DOH in violation of the intent of Local Law 37 and other laws, and of the Court-mandated “Settlement Agreement” with the No Spray Coalition, et al., and urge City officials to stop the spraying NOW. Please protect the residents and visitors to New York and the natural environment from the extremely dangerous, unnecessary, ineffective and illegal mass spraying of toxic pesticides.

Stop spraying now. Stop poisoning people, animals and the environment.


This post also appeared at


7 thoughts on “Stop NYC’s New Round of Pesticide Spraying, Now”

  1. Here is the Facebook conversation I just had with Marty Goldens office. I asks that the spraying be rescheduled to next week when it will be cool enough at night that people with out AC can close their windows with out dying from the heat.

    Here is their answer:

    MobileMarty Golden
    Chat Conversation Start

    1 mutual friend: Melissa Schane
    State Senator at New York State Senate
    Lives in Brooklyn, New York
    about an hour ago
    Hello, The spraying tomorrow should be rescheduled to a date that is not in the middle of a heatwave? How will people close their windows for 9 hours during these temperatures??

    I spoke with the Health Department – this was their response about the spraying

    “It’s just a recommendation if people have respiratory issues like asthma or COPD to turn the ac off, or put it on the recirculated air function, where it’s not drawing air from outside, as it may irritate people with those conditions. The City uses very low dosages and it is not harmful to people or pets, but it’s best to just take precautions.”

    We should be good
    Ummm, not so much.. What about the people with out AC? Its a pesticide, if it gets in your home you are exposed. This is not ok

    I can share this with the Health Department officials and see what they say
    There is no acceptable reason not to reschedule this to later next week when the late night temps will be 68 degress
    “Anvil belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids – endocrine disruptors. Pyrethroids have been linked to many complications including breast cancer, miscarriages, and preterm delivery in women, dramatically lowered sperm counts, and prostrate cancer in men. The toxins may also damage many of the vital organs including the nervous system, kidneys, liver, and the gastro-intestinal tract. Side-effects include skin rashes, asthma, itching, blisters, nausea, and vomiting.
    Another alarming chemical found in Anvil is one known as piperonyl butoxide. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed it as a suspected carcinogen.
    Considering the amount of deaths associated with cancer – according to the American Cancer Society, about 577,190 Americans will die of cancer this year, more than 1,500 per day – I think it’s safe conclude which of these two health concerns is the bigger issue…
    Just take a look at the New York State’s Department of Health’s website to see the incidence of various forms of cancer and mortality rates from 2005-2009 and compare that to the 30 deaths associated with West Nile – over a full 13-year-span, mind you.”

    This is what they sent me –

    Unfortunately, the numbers of mosquitos that are currently infected with West Nile virus have reached the threshold where they are a danger to human lives and we can’t postpone the spraying due to the heat. If it rains, however, the spray will be rescheduled, because that directly impacts the effectiveness of the spray. I understand people are very concerned but again, it’s a small dosage and the recommendations are precautions to keep any small chance of an adverse reaction from occurring. Our hope is that this one night of inconvenience will prevent those most susceptible from falling very ill by West Nile.
    This is unacceptable! This is is a dangerous poison . The city has already been sued over this and is not again breaking its own laws against. The city has NO right to endanger my health by spraying me with chemicals against my will. How dare you say its a small inconvenience?

  2. Thanks, Marianne, for reaching out to them and sharing the response with us. You made perfect connections and responses. So agree with you. If you can contact other local officials, that would be great & any other ideas or correspondence you have, we would be interested in hearing/seeing!

    Thanks so much.

    No Spray Coalition

  3. Why doesn’t the city consider less toxic ways to combat mosquitos? It can provide free citronella candles or oils, help increase the diminishing population of mosquitos’ predators, or use organically based pesticides.
    What really angers me is that we , as citizens, never have a choice in the matter. I do not want my children, pets, or garden exposed to this poison. Have there been many , if any, reported cases of west Nile in this area?

  4. More of an “alarmist” protocol is the city (and other cities/towns) deciding to spray toxic chemicals to avoid West Nile virus. Not only are you endangering our and our children’s health but you are endangering the health of our ecosystem/environment! Stop spraying these highly toxic, carcinogenic, and hormone-disrupting chemicals! There is a less toxic solution! Please employ it!

  5. The park along Chrystie smells foul as do other green spaces in Manhattan nearby, I can’t breathe, are they being sprayed as well?

  6. I wonder if placing bat houses in green spaces will increase the bat population, and therefore the mosquito population will diminish due to increase in predators

  7. Add my name to your lawsuit. I’ve called 311 repeatedly to tell them I object to the spraying, it falls on deaf ears: Jeffrey Monheit, 73-56 193 Street, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366-1832.


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