Challenging NYC’s Toxic Pesticide Spray Program Now in Its 24th Year
For the 24th year, New York City’s pesticide spray “program” dousing New Yorkers and the entire ecosystem with toxic pesticides continues with no end in sight. Unlike its dramatic beginnings with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani providing daily updates from his World Trade Center bunker, the current spraying receives little notice or fanfare. The No Spray Coalition continues its fight against this toxic pesticide spraying; the organization won a lawsuit in 2007 against the spraying including a settlement by the City admitting to its harmful impacts. Yet the indiscriminate spraying continues.
People deserve to at least know why and how they will be sprayed with these harmful chemicals and yet there remains little and insufficient notification. There is sparse, if any, media coverage; the only way now for the public to be alerted to this spraying is by possibly coming across a flyer placed on a random telephone pole which won’t mention much beyond spraying to “reduce mosquitos.” Elected officials have taken a hands-off approach to the point where they do not even notify their constituents.
Sixteen adulticiding events have taken place since July 24th in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island.
Thursday, September 21st Pesticide Spraying by Truck:
Notice of September 21 Adulticiding/Mosquito Spraying (PDF, posted September 18)
- Borough: Brooklyn
- ZIP Codes: 11205, 11206, 11211, 11216 and 11249
- Neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, South Williamsburg, Wallabout and Williamsburg
- Map: Locations of September 21 Adulticiding/Mosquito Spraying in Brooklyn (JPG)
- Borough: Brooklyn and Queens
- ZIP Codes: 11207, 11208, 11212, 11221, 11233, 11237 and 11385
- Neighborhoods: Broadway Triangle, Brownsville, Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Glendale, Liberty Park, Ocean Hill and Ridgewood
- Map: Locations of September 21 Adulticiding/Mosquito Spraying in Brooklyn and Queens (JPG)
Pesticide spraying will take place on Thursday, September 21st in Brooklyn and Queens 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.
On top of the harm to human health, the pesticides harm and kill birds, bees, dragonflies, other insects, wildlife and animals.
Close your windows during and after the spraying and remain inside.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, September 19th, large areas of Brooklyn were sprayed, including: Borough Park, Flatbush, Greenwood Heights, Gowanus, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Prospect Park South, South Slope, Sunset Park, and Windsor Terrace. ALL of Prospect Park was also sprayed.
Pesticide Spraying Program Began in 1999 Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani With Daily Updates From His World Trade Center “Bunker”
The pesticide spraying program in New York City aiming to kill mosquitos said to be carrying West Nile virus began in 1999 under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani – who gave daily, ludicrous updates from his World Trade Center bunker – and continues three mayors later with Mayor Eric Adams.
The pyrethroid pesticides being sprayed have been shown to be harmful to human health and the health of the eco-system, including animals, birds, wildlife, insects, and more. These pesticides kill off natural predators of mosquitoes, including dragonflies and bats. The spraying will occur by truck with pesticides fogged from the back of it.
Since its inception, this spray “program” to kill mosquitoes said to be carrying West Nile virus has never been properly reviewed by any city agency despite the continued use of toxic, harmful, and carcinogenic chemicals over the city’s population and environment.
The city is spraying pyrethroid pesticides, Anvil® 10+10 or Duet®, equally harmful, containing not only synthetic sumithrin but cancer-causing piperonyl butoxide.
In 2021, a new pesticides bill passed the New York City Council unanimously. It was intended to reduce the use of pesticides. Yet the NYC Department of Health continues to issue to itself waivers due to the provisions of the City’s anti-pesticides laws, thereby setting into motion the spraying of toxic pesticides in residential areas and public parks and streets.
The last few years have been especially brutal, as people fight to protect their lungs and respiratory systems from the Covid-19 virus, only to come under attack by the City’s poisonous spraying.
At the same time, there is no evidence presented that the City’s pesticide spraying has prevented West Nile disease (encephalitis). The risk of contracting West Nile Virus is very low, certainly not worth putting the entire population at significant risk and harming human health, wildlife, animals, beneficial insects, and our environment.
No Evidence that Number of Mosquitoes Has Ever Been Diminished by this Pesticide Spraying
In fact, there is no evidence that the number of mosquitoes, let alone those that carry West Nile virus, has EVER been diminished by pesticide spraying. That may seem counterintuitive, but in fact studies show that mosquitoes come back after spraying in larger numbers than before, and many are now resistant to the pesticides. Meanwhile, the pesticides not only cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system, but greatly reduced sperm counts — all follow in the wake of the pesticides.
In 2000, Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, in conjunction with Pace Environmental Law Clinic, filed a lawsuit against the spraying with the No Spray Coalition as lead plaintiff. The No Spray Coalition was joined by Beyond Pesticides, Disabled in Action, and Save Organic Standards as co-Plaintiffs.
In 2006, a federal judge ruled that the City of New York was in violation of the Clean Water Act, and by 2007, having lost its key points in the case, the City was compelled to negotiate a settlement with the No Spray Coalition.
Yet to this date the city of New York sprays on.
NO SPRAY COALITION LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT: CITY ADMITTED PESTICIDES HAVE ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS, MORE:
As part of the 2007 decision in the No Spray Coalition’s lawsuit, the City admitted, signed and in writing, stipulated that the 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 approved for direct application to waterways.
The City has never performed a “thorough environmental review and epidemiologic analysis” of the pesticide spraying. Being sprayed in the face or caught in the fogging is considered “low level(s) of exposure.”
New Yorkers have filed numerous complaints; many of their pets died as well. And yet City officials have said they couldn’t find anyone sickened by the spraying despite evidence provided in Court by the Plaintiffs and thousands of calls to pesticide hotlines.
These are the same officials, agencies and Health Department that certified the air as safe after 9/11 and directed New Yorkers to return to contaminated residences, workplaces, and firehouses.
Toxicologist Dr. Robert Simon, who took soil samples from around the city following the first year of spraying and whose testimony in court was extremely damning to the city’s spray program, states: “The only solution is another lawsuit against the NYC Department of Health. They do not care what we think and will not respond unless a judge tells them to. The current spraying is the same pattern of disrespect for the law that they have shown since they started spraying.”
THE CITY RECKLESSLY DISREGARDS SCIENTIFIC STUDIES THAT RUN COUNTER TO ITS DRUMBEAT FOR SPRAYING
These studies include:
- A major Centers for Disease Control study that found that all residents of the United States, including residents of New York City and State, now carry dangerously high levels of pesticides and their residues in our bodies, which may have onerous effects on our health. (Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals,Centers for Disease Control, 2005)
- A U.S. Geological Study showing that a large percentage of waterways and streams throughout the United States, including those in New York City and State, has been found to contain environmentally destructive pesticides that may severely impact on animal and aquatic life. (U.S. Geological Survey: “The Quality of Our Nation’s Waters, Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Ground Water,”1992-2001, http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2005/1291/)
- Studies confirming that pesticides are both a trigger for asthma attacks and a root cause of asthma (Salam, et al: “Early-life environmental risk factors for asthma findings from the children’s health study.” Environmental Health Perspectives 112(6):760-765), and that asthma is epidemic across New York City
- Cicero Swamp Study, showing that pesticides killed off the natural predators of mosquitoes and as a consequence mosquitoes came back much stronger after the spraying, because many of their natural predators (which have longer reproductive cycles) were dead. These studies were done in New York state for mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and found a 15-fold increase in mosquitoes after repeated spraying, and that virtually all of the new generations of mosquitoes were pesticide-resistant. (Journal of the Am Mosquito Control Assoc, Dec; 13(4):315-25, 1997 Howard JJ, Oliver New York State Department of Health, SUNY-College ESF, Syracuse 13210, USA)
- Studies that show that pesticides have cumulative, multigenerational, degenerative impacts on human health, especially on the development of children, which may not be evident immediately and may only appear years or even decades later
- Studies that show that pesticides make it easier for mosquitoes and other organisms to get and transmit West Nile Virus due to damage to their stomach lining. (Haas, George. “West Nile virus, spraying pesticides the wrong response,” American Bird Conservancy, October 23, 2000)
- Studies that show that pyrethroid spraying is ineffective in reducing the number of the next generation of mosquitoes. (“Efficacy of Resmethrin Aerosols Applied from the Road for Suppressing Culex Vectors of West Nile Virus,” Michael R. Reddy, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, et. al., Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, Volume 6, Number 2, June 2006)
THERE IS NO SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN OCCURRENCE OF WEST NILE VIRUS FOR CITIES THAT SPRAY PESTICIDES VS. THOSE THAT DON’T SPRAY
The No Spray Coalition branch in Nashville, Tennessee analyzed data contrasting cities that spray, such as Dallas, Nashville, and Baltimore, and cities that don’t spray, including Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., Cincinnati and Fort Worth, Texas, and released its report in 2012 based on statistics provided by the health departments of 14 major cities. Its conclusion: “Results show no significant difference in West Nile virus rates between communities that spray and those that don’t.”
IT IS TIME TO STOP THE MASS SPRAYING OF TOXIC PESTICIDES
Instead of chemical pesticides, many municipalities use bio-predators of mosquitoes, particularly dragonflies and bats, to control mosquito infestations, with successful results. But, in the end, the unnecessary mass spraying of toxic pesticides does more harm than good.