Issue 17 – July 2000
No Spray Newz #17 JULY 26, 2000
The Newsletter of the No Spray Coalition
PO Box 334, Peck Slip Station,
Board of Directors
*Mitchel Cohen, Corresponding Secretary
*Afrime Derti, Legal Liaison
*Valerie Sheppard, Co-Treasurer
*Pete Dolack, Hotline Coordinator
*Jennifer Jager, Treasurer
Eva Yaa Asantewaa
* Member of Executive Committee
Organizational Representatives on Board of Directors
Howard Brandstein, Save Organic Standards-NY
Cindy Rosin, Wetlands Action Group
Aton Edwards, International Preparedness Network
Bryna Eill, Disabled in Action
Nancy Oden, Greens/Green Party USA
Deeadra Brown, Manhattan Greens/GPNY
Alexandra Kanioros, Brooklyn Greens/GPNY
Day Starr Chou, Flushing Greens/GPNY
Joel Meyers, Active Resistance to Malthion Madness
Beth Wilson/Mike Montella, Rosendale Greens/GPNY
Don Hickock, Orange “Radical, Fanatical” Greens/GPNY
Ron/Maria Kuriloff, Central Nassau Greens/GPNY
Gary Davidson, East New York-Cypress Hills Greens/GPNY
Karen Ingenthron/Al Lewis, Roosevelt Island Greens/GPNY
* GPNY is the Green Party of NY
Pandi Hopkins, Outreach to Health Care Professionals
Jim West, Scientific Research
Kimberly Flynn, Legal Committee
Cathryn Swan, Press & Media
Maria Kuriloff, Fundraising
Ayanna Haynes, Affidavits
Debby Schwartz, Volunteers
Joel Kupferman, NY Environmental Law & Justice Project
Stop the Spraying
Support the No-Spray Lawsuit
Become a “Tox-Exempt” Neighborhood
Protect Our City … And the Environment
[Cartoon from the NY POST]
NY POST, JULY 23, 2000
Dear Fellow New Yorker,
All winter, City officials claimed that spraying deadly insecticides would be a “last resort.” How did a few dead birds quickly become the “last resort’?”
This week, the city began spraying hazardous pesticides, known as Pyrethroids, in Staten Island and Queens. And on July 20, the No Spray Coalition became the lead plaintiff in lawsuit filed in Federal court by the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project in conjunction with Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic against the City administration, to stop the City from indiscriminately spraying toxic pesticides over people and the natural environment. The lawsuit charges the City government with unlawfully discharging toxic chemicals into and over air, land and waters around New York City, threatening critical environmental wildlife habitats.and putting the health of residents at far greater risk than the disease the spraying is purported to fight.
Mayor Giuliani proclaims concern for alleged victims of West Nile Virus but has expressed no concern whatsoever for the thousands of people who have been made sick by the spraying. Just as in the Fall 1999, not a single government-sponsored hotline has been designated to receive calls from those sickened by the spraying. The Mayor continues to claim that the pesticides are perfectly “safe”. (Under law regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), no pesticide can be declared ‘safe.’) hese pesticides were designed to be used in agriculture, not sprayed on urban populations. We have asked the Court to prevent the spraying because of the health and safety risks, violations of the directions on the insecticide labels, and the City’s failure to obtain any of the legally required permits. By indiscriminately spraying, the City administration has violated the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, and NY State and City Environmental Quality Review regulations, jeopardizing the health and safety of the people of New York City and the natural environment.
In addition, the city has yet to to conduct a single Environmental Impact Study on this misuse of pesticides. It even failed to apply for the appropriate permits. And it continues to violate pesticide product label restrictions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the federal pesticide-control law. Mayor Giuliani blithely says:
“There’s absolutely no danger to anyone from this spraying … There are some people who are engaged in the business of wanting to frighten people out of their minds.” (Newsday, 9/14/99) The Mayor also said at the time that he’d been sprayed 7 times, with no ill effects.
The No Spray Coalition says the opposite. The spraying is dangerous, far worse than any illness they claim they are trying to prevent by spraying.
PESTICIDES ARE POISONS
Pesticides including organophosphates like Malathion, and pyrethroids such as Resmethrin (Scourge) and Sumithrin (Anvil) — the pesticides used in the current spray program — are not “safe.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s own handbook, these pesticides can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, skin irritation, loss of coordination, twitching and seizures, as well as delayed long-term neurotoxic effects, including optic and peripheral neuropathy.
Alone, these chemicals are bad enough. But, along with various “inert ingredients” (often petroleum distillates), they are mixed with another dangerous chemical, piperonyl butoxide, which acts as a synergist and vastly enhances their toxicity by preventing the body’s enzymes from breaking down the chemicals and getting them out, killing living organisms and wreaking havoc on human health, fish, butterflies, bees, our drinking water, and the natural environment.
Pyrethroids poison the sodium ion channels in the central nervous system, leaving the channel open. They are direct neurological and thyroid toxicants, skewing the neurological balance and triggering seizure-like episodes.
New studies show that pyrethroids also disrupt the endocrine system, mimicking the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen, linking pyrethroids to breast cancer in women and lowered sperm counts in men.
Pyrethroids are just as toxic as last year’s Malathion, an organophosphate and nerve gas. They can be even more debilitating to people with asthma, allergies, and compromised immune systems. And yet, “the spraying continues without concern for risk to people with asthma or compromised immune systems,” says Eva Yaa Asantewaa, a Plaintiff in the lawsuit and board member of the No Spray Coalition. “Our neighborhoods have a very high number of both, particularly among people of color.”
In a report issued at the end of June, the Royal Society in England called for international coordination to deal with the dangers posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (such as pyrethroids and PCBs) to humans and wildlife — substances that mimic or block hormones, in doses too small to trigger a conventional toxic response.
The report, called “Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals,” was writen by a group from the University of Cambridge. It recommends minimizing human exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. This is especially important for women who are pregnant.
IS THE VIRUS REALLY “DEADLY”?
There are significant dangers to blanket pesticide spraying of the population as a means of mosquito control. Not only is blanket spraying an extremely ineffective (10%) means of mosquito eradication, it imposes yet another toxic burden to both environment and residents. This, in a borough that is already overburdened by considerable pollution, and where the asthma and breast cancer rates are already too high. (Asthma and cancer are, of course, aggravated — and caused — by pesticide exposure).
The press has shamefully exaggerated the severity of the West Nile Virus crisis and has neglected to report that WNV has been declared a “mild illness” not only by the NYS Department of Health, but by Anthony Faucci, Director of Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
Last year according to the statistics released by the City, seven elderly people supposedly died from the virus; yet to date none of the names or medical histories of the deceased have been released nor have any human or bird blood and tissue samples been made available to independent scientists for testing and confirmation. Independent research indicates that all 7 were over 75, two had serious heart conditions, one had cancer (and heavy chemotherapy), and all had bad immune systems. No death was histologically connected with WNV as the cause of death. Officials are afraid to tell this truth because the possibility exists that there were no WNV deaths.
The Department of Health and CDC press releases state West Nile Virus is extremely hard to get and very rarely fatal with most of those infected recovering in a few days with no symptoms whatsoever. Statistically, your chances of being seriously injured or killed by falling concrete in NYC is far greater than your chance of being harmed by West Nile Virus.
According to the Mayor’s own press releases only people with weakened immune systems are susceptible to the virus. A weakened immune system just happens to be the single most common physiological side-effect of repeated exposure to pesticides. Another frequent symptom of pesticide exposure is . . . encephalitis.
In sum, the public health threat from using these pesticides is thousands of times greater than the “threat” of West Nile Virus.
Far from being “irresponsible” (Mayor Giuliani has called us irresponsible, among other things, for filing our lawsuit), the No Spray Coalition and other activists are acting in the public interest by opposing Giuliani’s spraying of our homes, streets, parks, and waterways and by distributing scientific information on pesticides which runs counter to official propaganda.
In conclusion, we have some questions, provided by renowned toxicologist Dr. Robert Simon:
Â· When will the press publish the LD50s (toxicities) of resmethrin and sumithrin?
Â· When will the DOH talk about the carcinogenicity of piperonyl butoxide?
Â· When will the DEC talk about the action of chlorine on sumithrin to form toxic metabolites call 3-phenoxyBAs that are 100 more toxic than sumithrin (Anvil 10 + 10)?
Â· When will the Mayor stop saying that 7 persons “died” from WNV and ask Dr. Hirsch, the NYC Medical Examiner, where his report is? Inquiring minds want to know.
This leaflet on the hazards of indiscriminate pesticide spraying is the first in a series of NoSpray Newz leaflets dealing with different aspects of the so-called “West Nile Virus” situation. If you would like to help oppose the spraying, please write to the No Spray Coalition, PO Box 334, Peck Slip Station, NYC 10272-0334, or call the No Spray hotline at (718) 670-7110. Any funds you can send to help continue the lawsuit and this work are greatly appreciated.