Last month, when the CDC tried to spray naled over Puerto Rico, the island’s residents erupted. The streets of San Juan were filled with protesters and the governor of Puerto Rica, Alejandro García Padilla, forced the CDC to return its shipments of the chemical.
That’s what should have happened here.
However, when Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control “experts” decided to drop naled from planes over Miami to combat Zika last week, Floridians barely registered a “peep”, despite the fact that naled is banned in the European Union. Although let’s be frank, the EU has banned tons of stuff that regulators here refuse to ban. Why? MONEY.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CDC both say that naled is safe to use in small amounts for the purpose of killing mosquitoes but there are American environmental scientists who disagree. In fact, their beliefs run the gamut, spraying is a “necessary evil” to totally “irresponsible”.
From the article:
“On August 4, Dr. Elvia Melendez-Ackerman, an environmental biologist at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras campus, sent City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado a letter demanding Miami stop spraying naled. (The letter should have gone to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, because the county handles mosquito-control spraying.)
“We all have heard of the intention to fumigate Miami with naled, and with all due respect, we are starting to see in Florida a repeat of what we went through: Public servants not reading the science that is in front of them,” writes Melendez-Ackerman, who was active in the movement to ban naled in Puerto Rico.”
Dr. Elvia Melendez-Ackerman even went on to criticize the U.S. government and Miami-Dade County for rushing to spray naled without thinking about the long-term costs, “People don’t know all the risks. This degrades into a carcinogen. It’s in the EPA documents.”
However Miami-Dade County has been using naled for almost four decades (mostly in agricultural fields, though, rather than urban areas) and isn’t going to stop; a 2010 study said organophosphates are responsible for killing 200,000 people a year in developing countries.
Naled is part of a controversial family of insecticides called “organophosphates” that some environmentalists say pose massive health risks to humans, animals, and plant life. In 2013 National Geographic called them “common but deadly”. They attack the human nervous system the same way as chemical weapons like sarin gas do. At acute levels, the pesticide stops a person’s neurotransmitters from working. It’s a terribly painful way to die- you end of suffocating because you are basically paralyzed.
More from the article:
“Also frightening, a 2010 Emory University study showed that prenatal and early-childhood exposure to organophosphates can increase the risks of some neurological disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It has also been linked to autism.”
Regardless of how you feel about the spraying, the truth is that we aren’t being given proper information or warning from county officials. While some literature may say ‘no extra precautions are needed’, that’s simply not true. We need to be as careful as possible and take extra precautions to avoid coming into contact with any residue: close your windows, turn off your air conditioning to avoid drawing the pesticide into your house, bring kids toys inside, and wipe things down before people come into contact with them again- especially kids slides, barbecues, or pet food bowls.
If officials aren’t going to give us the info we need then we are going to have to look for it ourselves- and it is out there. Stay safe. Be cautious.
(Editor’s note: In the first few seconds you’ll notice the helicopter going AWAY from the camera over the roof of the house. Wish it were clearer but none of us had any warning that they’d be spraying THIS area!)