No Spray Update (Circa 2001?)

Are You Willing To  Stop The Spraying This Summer?


SYNOPSIS: We are about to be sprayed again, this time by Malathion and Naled, as well as by Pyrethroids. The Lawsuit filed by the No Spray Coalition (as lead plaintiff) and other organizations and individuals (see bottom of page) is back in court.

We have a shot at winning our appeal to expand the lawsuit beyond the Clean Water Act, which has already been accepted by the Court. But we desperately need funds — $14,000-$20,000 in the next few weeks!! Every five-dollar bill helps!

We don’t want to be remembered financially in your last will and testament — we want you ALIVE, and we need the money NOW! Please make out checks (not tax-exempt) to the “No Spray Coalition” and mail them today to the address above.

Thank you so very much — and, as said in another context, “stay strong and pay close attention.”


In 1999 and 2000 New Yorkers were exposed to massive amounts of toxic pesticides by the Giuliani administration in a panicked overreaction to the alleged threat of West Nile Virus — a disease that the Department of Health’s own press releases admit is extremely hard to become infected by and almost never fatal. We were repeatedly sprayed by helicopters and trucks in our homes, in public parks, while shopping, while playing in schoolyards, while eating in outdoor restaurants and while traveling to and from work and school.

Now they have extended the possible spray area for mosquitoes said to be carrying West Nile Virus to cities up and down the entire east coast, and as far west as the Mississippi River, even though there have been no human fatalities in the US from West Nile encephalitis apart from eight people in New York in the last two years. Spraying has taken place in almost every county in New York state, as well as in New Jersey, parts of Connecticut (which used Scourge/Resmethrin), Maryland, Massachusetts and indeed along the entire eastern seaboard from Maine all the way to Florida.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the hazards of indiscriminate pesticide use, plans are underway to extend the broadcast spraying for West Nile-carrying mosquitoes to urban areas such as Cleveland Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. And on the west coast, massive indiscriminate spraying of  urban areas is already underway for other insects.

New York City remains the epicenter, and what happens there will dramatically affect what happens everywhere else. Public health experts, mosquito control technicians and scientists who specialize in studying the effects of pesticide exposure warn that this unprecedented use of  chemicals on densely packed urban populations will not only be ineffective for mosquito control but pose a far greater health risk than West Nile Virus.

We need your help, financially and through your participation, to stop it.

The main chemical used in 1999, Malathion (Fyfanon ULV), is described by the NYC Mayor’s Chem-Bio Handbook — the City’s official guide to handling chemical and biological emergencies which is distributed to every police precinct, ambulance and fire truck — as a toxic nerve gas directly related to those used by the Nazis in WWII. Anvil (Sumithrin + Piperonyl Butoxide + Petroleum-related byproducts), the synthetic pyrethroid nerve gas sprayed from trucks in 2000, is known to cause asthma, disruption of sexual hormones and various other health disorders, and has been linked to breast cancer in women and diminished sperm counts in men.

During 1999 and 2000 NY State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer repeatedly warned the Mayor that it was illegal for any company to describe these toxic pesticides as “safe.” The AG admonished Mayor Giuliani, as well as spokespeople for the Department of Health and other officials, to stop making such false claims. Giuliani has repeatedly ignored those reprovals. “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,” he said. Newsday, 9/14/99) The Mayor continues to portray those of us concerned with the dangers of indiscriminate pesticide spraying as “environmental terrorists” who “like to get you angry because it gets them on television.”

In actuality the City has disregarded virtually all the directions and warnings included with these chemicals by their anufacturers. Contrary to both the directions on the labels and existing environmental law the sprayings were done directly on humans, over bodies of water, without sufficient warning and more often than not at times when it is known to be completely ineffective for killing mosquitoes. Many observers, including some of the mosquito control experts directly involved in the spraying, believed it was being done more for public relations than for public health.

New York City’s indiscriminate spraying of malathion, resmethrin, sumithrin, permethrin — along with their “inert” ingredients and synergists (piperonyl butoxide) — has put the public’s health and natural environment in great danger. The precautions that were taken to warn  asthma sufferers, people with compromised immune systems, cancer survivors, people with allergies, and those facing repeated exposure (homeless people, subway workers, spraytruck drivers, etc.) — let alone everyone else — have been virtually non-existent. Not even a hotline was established by any NYC agency for people to call who were made sick from the spray. (The WNV “hotline” set up by the NYC Department of Health was answered by non-unionized, ill-informed operators in Pennsylvania, who had no idea what was going on and had no knowledge or instructions concerning people calling in who had been exposed to pesticides.) To top it off, pressures have been brought to bear on scientists and health professionals to basically “shut up” in public concerning evidence of the dangers of pesticide spraying on densely populated urban areas.

As a direct effect of the pesticide exposure thousands of people suffered impaired respiratory and neurological health, including many of the workers who were temporarily hired by the City to do the actual spraying. Thousands more are expected to experience long term health problems which may not manifest as symptoms for many years including cancer, hormonal imbalances, neurological damage and possible genetic mutations.

Though the environmental impact of WNV spray operations in the Tri-State area over the past two years has yet to be fully tallied (and no official Environmental Impact Statement has yet been issued!), these pesticides are known to severely impact many aquatic species and nontarget insects. There is a pending lawsuit regarding the impact of these pesticides on the widespread die-off of crabs and lobsters in Long Island Sound.

Thousands of fish, lobsters, birds and beneficial insects like butterflies and bees were killed by the spraying. Our waterways were polluted. Even the Connecticut Sea Grant (Sea Grant is a Federal Agency which sponsors regional projects on coastal marine problems usually tied with industry)notes with alarm that pesticide spraying is implicated in the lobster die-off. Repeated spraying has severely impacted vital ecosystems, and the offspring of mosquitoes that survived the spray are likely to now be growing increasingly resistant to the pesticides applied.

Important Victories

    • Under enormous pressure from environmental activists led by the No Spray Coalition — including many Green Party activists, entire Green locals, and concerned scientists — the Center for Disease Control and the NY State Department of Health recently admitted that the spraying was overdone [3/12/2001 Daily News].


    • Dramatic video footage submitted to the Court in our lawsuit (see below) and released to the news media documents the spraying of people on the street, vegetable stands, pregnant women, and children.


    • The spraytruck drivers themselves, through a front page article in the NY Daily News by Juan Gonzalez, broke the story wide open this winter with their searing accounts of severe health problems, poor training, and lack of protective equipment; over and over again they answered a ton of lies by the contractor (Clarke Environmental) and the City government by constantly speaking of truth to power.


    • Presented with the evidence we’d gathered, protests outside their offices, and a constant barrage of complaints from the drivers sickened by the spray, the federal Environment Protection Agency has finally ordered the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a full-scale investigation of our claims.


    • Virtually every NYC Community Board passed resolutions last year stating that indiscriminant spraying must not continue.


    • Thanks to the great work of all of us, especially No Spray lawyer Joel Kupferman and researcher Kimberly Flynn, we’ve managed to STOP NYC (temporarily, at least) from contracting with Clarke Environmental — no contractor, no spraying! (unless the City tries to do it itself). Clarke had bid $277 million (!!) to spray for the next 3 years — that’s what NYC would have had to pay the company (See NY Daily News, April 3 and April 6).


    • The DEC has indicated it will swat Clarke Environmental, Inc., with at least a “six-figure fine” for violations pertaining to worker health and safety during last year’s spraying.


  • We’ve compiled extensive research on the chemicals sprayed on us, and on other aspects of this insanity To freely access this information, please turn to the No Spray Coalition website, at:, and an excellent listserve:
  • And people all over the country (indeed, all over the world) have been contacting us for advice on opposing the indiscriminate spraying of pesticides planned for THEIR areas. Californians are up in arms around similar indiscriminate spraying against the glassy-winged sharpshooter. The No Spray Coalition has played a crucial role in shaping what is quickly becoming a national debate.

What is Mayor Giuliani’s response?

The City has ordered a rebidding from companies to massively spray NYC in 2001 from helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and trucks using Malathion and other toxic pesticides. This year they plan to introduce Naled (DiBrom) to their spray arsenal. As stated above, we managed to block all that — temporarily. Tens of millions of dollars have been set aside for the purchase of pesticides. We can be certain that as soon as a single infected mosquito or bird is found the spraying will begin … unless we are successful in preventing it.

The use of pesticides is being planned again, without justification, and despite the fact that, historically, West Nile epidemics throughout the world have subsided and vanished on their own. Last year, we saw only a handful of cases, mostly centered in Staten Island in a city of more than 8 million people. Indications are that the public health “threat”, if there ever was one, is over.

In 1999 the Nospray Coalition filed a Federal lawsuit to stop the spraying, which we believe is a direct violation of evironmental law. Representing the Coalition in the courts are the NY Environmental Law and Justice Project, and the Pace Environmental Law Clinic. A federal judge has enabled the lawsuit to go forward under the Clean Water Act, despite aggressive opposition by the City’s attorneys. We also won a court decision  requiring the City’s Office of Emergency Management to release all documents pertaining to the spraying of New York — an order the City has refused to abide by, and is now appealing.

Although we are moving forward under the Clean Water Act, we have appealed the judge’s denial of the restraining order we sought (he denied it solely on legalistic grounds concerning whether citizens have a right to sue under other laws we’d cited, not on the substance of our emvironmental and health claims). That appeal is to be heard in a few weeks. The main lawsuit has now progressed through the courts to the point where we are ready to take final depositions from numerous people who were involved in the spraying, including City and State officials, helicopter pilots, people who were directly sprayed and witnesses who observed the many violations of the labeling instructions and environmental law.

What You Can Do To Help

The financial support offered in the past by yourself and other concerned individuals has been essential in getting us this far. But we need to ask you for more money — $14,000-$20,000 is needed quickly, just in the nextfour weeks. Although we’ve managed to run things on a shoestring, funds are needed to pay for subpoenaing the many witnesses and for the cost of the depositions which will begin to be taken in the next few months.

The members of the NoSpray Coalition are all unpaid volunteers. The attorneys representing us are not charging any fee. All funds contributed will be used for legal expenses such as filing fees, depositions, subpoenas, expert witnesses, and for organizing needs such as leaflets, maintenanceof the hotline, videotapes, linking up with other groups  across the country, development and distribution of information on alternatives to spraying (as well as on how individuals can best protect themselves from the spray), and other essentials. Have your group join No Spray Coalition.

The only thing standing between all of us and the continuing pesticide assault is this lawsuit and our public protests. Should our case prevail in court, it will be a boon to all of those who are fighting to protect the environment and the health and safety of people across the country; and it will send shock waves through the chemical manufacturing industry and their benefactors in government. Your dollars go a very long way. Anything you can contribute to this effort is much needed and greatly appreciated.

Contribute Today!

The lawsuit to stop the indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides is
being brought against Mayor Giuliani, et al., by the following

1. No Spray Coalition (Lead Plaintiff)
2. Disabled in Action
3. Save Organic Standards — NY, by its president, Howard Brandstein
4. National Coalition Against Misuse of Pesticides
5. Robert Lederman
6. Eva Yaa Asantewaa
7. Valerie Sheppard
8. Mitchel Cohen

The No Spray Coalition, Inc.: is made up of the following Board of Directors: Mitchel Cohen*, Afrime Derti*, Valerie Sheppard*, Jennifer Jager*, Robert Lederman, Annette Averette, Cathryn Swan, Aton Edwards, Howard Brandstein, Maris Abelson, Curtis Cost (*Member of Executive Committee of Bd of Directors)

The following organizations have affiliated with the No Spray Coalition and have representatives working with the Board of Directors:

Save Organic Standards-NY, Wetlands Action Group, International Preparedness Network, Disabled in Action, Active Resistance to Malathion Madness, Advocates for a Better Earth, Green Party of New Jersey, Manhattan Greens, Brooklyn Greens, Flushing Greens, Rosendale Greens, Orange “Radical, Fanatical” Greens, Central Nassau Greens, East New York-Cypress Hills Greens, Roosevelt Island Greens, St. Lawrence Greens, Staten Island Greens, Southern Brooklyn Greens, Rensselaer Greens, Lower East Side Greens

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