No Spray Coalition Condemns De Blasio Admin for Toxic Pesticide Spraying; 18th Year of Harmful Spraying for West Nile Virus

Pesticide Spraying Harms Human Health, Animals, Beneficial Insects, Entire Eco System


The New York City Department of Health began its 18th year of pesticide spraying for West Nile Virus(WNv) in late July and is scheduled to spray toxic pesticides by truck throughout neighborhoods in Brooklyn Tuesday night, August 15th. No evidence exists that this spraying is preventing West Nile Virus, its alleged goal: the risk of contracting West Nile Virus is very low to begin with. However, the spraying presents significant risks and harm to human health, wildlife, animals, beneficial insects, and our environment. Neighborhoods being sprayed Tuesday night, include: Park Slope, Kensington, Prospect Heights, East New York, Ditmas Park, Crown Heights, and more.

The No Spray Coalition began working in 1999 to stop this pesticide spraying, citing very real health and environmental concerns, as well as the ineffectiveness of the spray to begin with. The spray program first began under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, with daily announcements from his “bunker” in World Trade Center #7, the first year the spraying was done by plane, and with a different suspected carcinogen, malathion; the spraying continues today via truck, spraying Anvil 10+10, a pyrethroid pesticide, and, now, also, Duet.

Mitchel Cohen, coordinator of the No Spray Coalition, said, “It looks as though the City has increased its spraying of toxic insecticides. There is no evidence that the number of mosquitoes, let alone WNV-carrying mosquitoes, has EVER been diminished by pesticides spraying! In fact, the opposite is the case, as a number of studies have shown that mosquitoes come back after spraying in larger numbers and resistant to the pesticides, which is likely why the City is mixing in an even more toxic–to–people and the environment pesticide this year [Duet]. Cancer, endocrine disruption, greatly reduced sperm counts — all follow in the wake of the City’s pesticides spraying. It’s a shame that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is no better than Mayor Giuliani’s or Mayor Bloomberg’s in this regard.”

Anvil 10+10 is comprised of four ingredients: sumithrin; piperonyl butoxide; polyethylbenzene, also known as heavy aromatic solvent naptha (petroleum); and “white mineral oil,” also known as hydrotreated light paraffinic petroleum distillate. It is toxic to bees and fish and kills natural predators of the mosquito, including dragonflies, bats, frogs, and birds. Sumithrin is a suspected gastrointestinal, kidney and liver toxicant and a suspected neurotoxicant. Piperonyl butoxide is a suspected carcinogen. These are just a few of the known health issues related to these pesticides. It is also a known endocrine disrupter.


The No Spray Coalition filed a lawsuit against the city of New York in 2000, it was settled in 2007 at which time:

The city of New York admitted 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 No Spray Coalition has cited numerous studies that have shown the terrible developmental consequences to children, especially – but also to the rest of us — who have been exposed to pesticides, and reveals the City’s reckless disregard of scientific studies that run counter to the drumbeat for its spray campaign. These included:

  • A major CDC 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,;
  • 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 throughout New York City;
  • Cicero Swamp Study, showing that pesticides killed off the natural predators of mosquitoes and that 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); and,
  • 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)


  • No Spray Coalition Nashville released a report analyzing data between cities that spray, such as Dallas, Nashville, Baltimore and cities that don’t spray, which includes Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., Cincinnati and Fort Worth, Texas. The No Spray Nashville group analyzed data based on statistics provided by the health departments at 14 major cities, determining that “results show no significant difference in West Nile virus rates between communities that spray and those that don’t.” []

“When we find West Nile present in mosquito pools here in Washington, D.C.,” said Peggy Keller, Chief of the Bureau of Community Hygiene and Animal Disease Prevention in the D.C. Department of Health, “we don’t spray. We’ve learned that the best way to protect the public from both the virus and the pesticides is to intensify our larval program and distribute outreach and education information that emphasizes prevention and protection techniques to the public in the surrounding area.”

After carefully reviewing the potential effectiveness of spraying as well as the risks of the virus with the risks of pesticide exposure, the City of Lyndhurst, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), passed an ordinance prohibiting the spraying of pesticides to control the spread of WNV.

Other areas also use bio-predators of mosquitoes – dragonflies and bats – to control mosquito infestations, with very successful results.


The NYC Department of Health has ignored the research of experts such as Cornell University professor David Pimentel, who argues that “ground spraying in general is a waste of money. Most ground spraying is political and has very little to do with effective mosquito control.”



Click HERE to hear Mitchel Cohen’s report for WBAI/Pacifica radio, including his interview with WBAI’s Max Schmid (“Golden Age of Radio”) about NYC’s night of spraying pesticides in Queens, Thursday, July 27, 2017.

New York City is again spraying dangerous pesticides to kill mosquitoes said to be carrying West Nile Virus. The City is spraying “Duet”, which is an even stronger pyrethroid poison than the chemicals it’s been spraying in recent years. “Duet” adds the synthetic chemical Prallethrin to the toxic stew of sumithrin, piperonyl butoxide, propane, napthalene, and trimethyl benzene. According to the No Spray Coalition which had won its lawsuit against the City’s spraying ten years ago, pyrethroids are endocrine disruptors and are extremely dangerous to all people as well as animals and pets, and especially to children.


Although the City of New York has increased the number of days it gives for advance notice of spray “events,” many people remain uninformed, and there is no way to avoid the spraying in many instances once you are on the street and the truck appears.

[Watch this video:]


Local Law 37 announced its intention to reduce the amount of pesticides used on public land by City agencies. Local Law 37 provided new requirements for pesticide applicators, penalties for the misuse of pesticides and a significant burden to be met by city agencies applying for waivers.

Yet today — in August 2017 — the NYC Department of Health is directing the spraying of toxic pesticides into the air from spray trucks driven by NYC DOH employees to kill mosquitoes, as though the Settlement Agreement and Local Law 37 are merely paper tigers to be ignored at will. There is no evidence that Local Law 37’s four requirements for issuance of waivers were seriously considered by the Department of Health before it granted itself waivers from the prohibitions against pesticides spraying and launched its current spray campaign.

From the recent NYC Dept of Health announcement for spraying:

Weather permitting, pesticide application by trucks is scheduled for Tuesday, August 15, 2017 between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. the following morning in the following locations:

Brooklyn: Part of Brownsville, City Line, Crown Heights, Ditmas Park, East New York, Farragut, Greenwood Heights, Kensington, New Lots, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Prospect Park South, Remsen Village, Rugby, Spring Creek, Starrett City, Weeksville, Windsor Terrace, Wingate.

Zip Codes Affected

Brooklyn: Parts of 11203, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11215, 11217, 11218, 11219, 11220, 11225, 11226, 11232, 11234, 11236, 11238, 11239

The spraying schedule and a map of areas to be treated is available at In the event of rain, high winds or equipment malfunction, spraying may be delayed.

* * *

*(Source: The Multigenerational, Cumulative and Destructive Impacts of Pesticides on Human Health, Especially on the Physical, Emotional and Mental Development of Children and Future Generations. A Submission to The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, by Physicians and Scientists for a Healthy World, February 2000; Guillette, Elizabeth, et al: Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Pre-school Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico. Environmental Health Perspective, Vol. 106, No.6, June 1998; Kaplan, Jonathan et al. Failing Health. Pesticides Use in California Schools. Report by Californians for Pesticide Reform, 2002, American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health; Ambient Air Pollution: Respiratory Hazards to Children, Pediatrics 91, 1993)

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