Testimony Dr. Simon on Pesticides & Effects on People
Transcript of testimony of Dr. Robert Simon, toxicologist, on the effects of pesticides on people, particularly malathion and pyrethroids including soil samples and testing of air conditioner filters, before hearings held by a Congressional panel chaired by Congressional representative Gerald Ackerman, of Queens NY.
THE AUDIENCE: Applause.
DR. ROBERT SIMON: Thank you, Congressman.
One of my favorite presidents is Harry Truman, because he said, “Right here at this table is where the buck stops.”
I congratulate all the legislators here today, particularly Congressman Ackerman and Assemblyman McLaughlin. They put the heat on the representatives of the administrative departments this morning.
I am astounded as a citizen of America that the U.S. EPA and representatives of New York State came here and put on the performance they did today. They didn’t know the answer, they don’t know who did anything. DEC monitored it, but DEC pulled out. OEM organized it, they wouldn’t show up. The Mayor has a handbook, they don’t know who wrote it, on and on and on.
I’m also very disappointed in Suffolk County, where I was born and raised. I don’t know why Dominic left, maybe he had to get back on a Friday afternoon, but I sure want to know a few things about the Malathion in his Yaphank warehouse.
I know where the warehouse is. It sits by the railroad tracks. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, because I have taken the Long Island Rail Road out to Southold many, many times in my life, and I can guarantee you there are no air-conditioners there. And in the summertime, this metal building will get well over 120 degrees.
So how long was the Malathion stored there before John Sanderoff got the stuff, put it in a Uhaul truck, drove it down into a wetland into Queens, a federally protected wetland where we protect endangered species across from LaGuardia Airport?
According to all the rules I know for wetlands, it is illegal to have any kind of hazardous substance. And as the sign says — and these are my photos that I took in October after I appeared before the New York City Council. It’s under restoration to restore the marsh from the paving over of the marsh.
Why in the world are you, EPA, DEC, New York City, John Sanderoff, and Suffolk County’s Dominic Ninivaggi, the expert on Malathion, storing Malathion that you don’t know what’s in the barrel? You don’t know how long it has been stored, you don’t know if it contains Malathion, Maloxon or all of the above.
What are you doing? Are we back in kindergarten, or do we need to put you back in preschool so we can get you ready for kindergarten, because today, I heard no answers?
THE AUDIENCE: Applause.
DR. ROBERT SIMON: And just to educate a little bit more the Congressman and the Assemblyman, I was on a phone conversation with lawyers, some of the people are here today, Joe Kauferman, Mitch Cohen, et cetera, and we talked to EPA Region Two, DEC, Mr. Thorp was there. I asked him, were you guys out there, did you go to Paris Cove?
Oh, yes, yes. We had our guys out there, I’m sure our guys were out there.
I said, I know DEC, they investigated my farm when the fuel oil from the local Southold town tanks contaminated our ground water, and I know how many thousands of pages of your reports and test data that that generated. So let me get your report, sir. How soon can I get it? And I hear stumbling and moaning and groaning at the other end of the phone in New York, I was in Fairfax, Virginia. And I’m still waiting.
So somebody who has got subpoena power, I want to subpoena delivered to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who for seven months has lied to us, not told us the truth. They were not out there, John Sanderoff told us. I was on the phone with Joyce, she taped them. Whether she did it illegally or not, I can’t tell you that. Ask the lawyers.
John said very clearly to me — first when I was in Riverhead, I was the guy who found out who John was in the spraying, because I went to New York State Cornell University Extension Service in Riverhead.
CONGRESSMAN ACKERMAN: Could you share with those of us who have not followed this as closely as you have who John is.
DR. ROBERT SIMON: John Sanderoff is the guy from Norfolk Helicopter who organized the spraying of Malathion in New York. John is out in Petro, New York, out on the East End, and he has five helicopters. He sprayed all of the Pipanol ULV Malathion, and John told us nobody was out there.
John told us they also drove some Malathion up, because they couldn’t find enough Malathion. So Dominic, as he said today, I didn’t know this before today, he got it started, and then he drove stuff up from Texas that, to the best of my knowledge — I have some lawyers down there checking on it — was down there for two years in some warehouse in Brownsville. And if you have ever been to Brownsville, Texas, there is one thing you know, and that is in the summer, it’s hot, hotter than hell, and there is no air-conditioner down there, because I have investigated many cases in the valley.
It’s very easy to follow Dr. Buffaloe. I want to get on the Malathion case for a minute, because Mr. McLaughlin just said something that’s very important. The bottom line is, you said if one person was poisoned. Dr. Buffaloe has given us some information, and as good doctors do, they don’t release the names of their patients.
I want to talk about a patient today who has come forward who may be the hero of New York City. She has done something that no one else has done yet. She was smart enough last fall to know what a cholinesterase level was, and she went to her doctor and she got two of them.
I put in handwriting up here, because eventually, hopefully, we’ll publish this, “Donna Reilly,” who is sitting in the front row; beautiful, blonde lady down there. Her cholinesterase levels would show depression of cholinesterase two times in a row, once on the 18th of October and again on the 24th of November. And then when I met Donna — what was it — February, I think, 9th or 10th, I said keep getting them, because once it comes back to quote: Your normal level, we’ll know how much the drop was last year.
We’ve estimated about a 40-percent drop in her cholinesterase levels last year, which is classified in the textbooks as certainly moderate poisoning by an organophosphate.
But she didn’t stop there. She gathered some items that I could test in my laboratory. One of my criticisms has been nobody is monitoring anything. Not only was the temperature too high and the wind direction was too strong and all of those problems and where they stored it, but nobody was collecting environmental samples.
I am now in a project to find out what happened to the lobsters. Guess what we are going to do? We are going to test lobsters, we are going to collect sediments, we are going to do testing.
I am also an industrial hygienist. I know how to collect air samples, I know how to collect surface wipe samples, and analyze filter samples.
Last October, in my total frustration after the New York City Council presentation to the Health Committee, I went out and collected a few samples on park benches, and I have the photos of those here. In the park, the playground behind Paris Cove, I found Maloxon and Malathion.
I said well, they’ve been spraying like heck, so I can’t put too much faith in that. It’s there, it’s certainly not disappearing in one to six days, which they wanted you to believe. But they sprayed so much, maybe that’s why it’s still there.
When I got to know Donna Reilly, I said, do you have any filters. I have here a report from our laboratory, a laboratory that’s qualified after many, many years of presenting data reports from 62 Bogard Street, Huntington Station, New York where Donna was living, one of her addresses, a window air-conditioner filter, the stuff that Dr. Buffaloe just told you about, Resmethrin, the active ingredient of Scourge, the pesticide sprayed from the trucks.
This number is so big that we had a workout putting it on the report. All we do with this filter is we weigh it out on the analytical balance, we chopped out a piece, we measured the dimensions, and we calculated how much was there per square foot of the filter, 7,750,000 micrograms, which in better terms is 7.7 grams. There are 454 grams in a pound, so we have a significant part of a pound of Resmethrin on this filter.