Miami-Dade, Florida(Pontiac)— An aerial pesticide spray, set for Thursday at 8pm, was announced only a day before hand. The spray will cover large swaths of Miami-Dade County in an attempt to quell a spike in the mosquito population.
The spray has raised concerns from residents ranging from health, to honey bee safety, and the short notice. Similar worries peaked months ago with protests against a spray program reputedly aiming to combat Zika Virus. The tropical disease, thought to be associated with birth defects, briefly made headlines following the Ebola outbreak. Officials stated the pesticide Naled, was targeting a specific mosquito species which carries the virus.
During the spraying last fall, dozens of residents reported rashes, headaches, and other pesticide-related symptoms. Spraying continued, nevertheless, eventually wiping out untold millions of Florida honey bees. Similar phenomena occurred in other states associated with the spray program. A couple nearby neighbors, however, also experienced odd mass die-offs of bee’s, and even birds. Although investigations were announced, no results or updates have been provided to date.
Now, further spraying is set for coastline from Rickenbacker Causeway, south to Homestead, Kendall, Redland, and Florida City. The Miami Herald cites the choice pesticide as Naled, the same used in last years Zika sprays.
Although approved by an already questionable EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the poison is banned throughout Europe. Not only that, but little research is publicly available regarding its widespread use. Some even feel, Miami Herald reports, that the scale of Naled spraying for Zika is quite unprecedented. The outlet also linked to a study on Naled, which now leads to a broken page.
Any EPA claim that Naled is safe to humans should be taken with a grain of salt. The agency’s credibility, or specifically that of Scott Pruitt, has been wounded by it’s approval of other dangerous pesticides. Chlorpyrifos, for example, was linked to a recent incident where crop workers were sickened, and one hospitalized. Despite this, and warnings from EPA scientists, Pruitt has opted to push forwarded its use.
Even EPA’s website, despite downplaying of the likelihood of Naled exposure, lists the same symptoms experienced by protesters as possibilities. “Short term effects such as skin, eye, and nose irritation”, is noted for those “sensitive” to chemicals. EPA’s website also placed a bit of ambiguity when discussing Naled exposure to children. According the the page, EPA “estimated” exposure risks to adults and children.
For kids, phrases like “below an amount that might pose a health concern” and “estimates assumed” perforate the small paragraph. One assumption involved a hypothetical toddler that not only was exposed to Naled through the air, but also ate contaminated dirt and grass. EPA used this as an example of what it would take for Naled to pose a major risk to children. This, however, does not fit the mold of protesters and residents who came forward with complaints in October. Many of those marchers, in fact, were pregnant women worried about their unborn children.
“For the majority of people no special precautions need to be taken during spraying. You do not have to leave the area when spraying takes place. However, as a general matter it is a good idea to reduce unnecessary exposure to pesticides whenever possible.”– EPA Naled Webpage.
The site goes onto state “ We do not anticipate significant exposure to bees”, while also warning beekeepers to do their part to avoid sprays. Reporting hives, and working with pesticide distributors is noted, and is a process active across the country.
Despite these measures, as a recent bee kill in Fresno County California shows, exposure still occurs. Additionally, Naled spraying has already exterminated millions of bees. If this detail by EPA isn’t supported by the reality of the sprays, what on the Naled page can be trusted? It’s this sense of uncertainty which will loom over Miami-Dade County after the planes have finished their runs.
This article was prepared by Isiah Holmes for The Pontiac Tribune.