Wait, Wait, Can We Talk? Before We Dump a Bunch of Chemicals from Planes? Please?

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So I was right yesterday. As Eric just reported, the pressure is on to escalate the local war on West Nile from truck spraying of pesticides to airplane spraying.

This decision will be left to that august body the Dallas County Commissioners Court, scheduled at its next meeting to take up a proposal from the Dallas County Medical Society.

The TV report I saw last night referred several times to the medical society as "medical authorities" and some of the county's brightest medical minds, or something to that effect. I'm not sure what any of that has to do with knowledge of environmental and human hazards presented by broadcast dissemination of neurotoxins, which is what they will be carpet-bombing us with it this goes through.

But be that as it may. These are people who made it through medical school, which puts them several miles above my level on anything to do with science. Let's take all of this at face value and give people the benefit of the doubt.

I have been reporting here about the perils of Permethrin, the chemical the city is spraying now from trucks at night and probably the same the county would spray from airplanes. It's a broad-spectrum pesticide that basically kills everything flying and is a life-threatening danger to some pets, according to the EPA. The EPA says in its disclosures that it doesn't know much about what it does to humans.

The urgency here is real. It's the soaring incidence of West Nile diseases in the area and the conviction that somebody in leadership ought to do something. The argument will be that whatever hazards are associated with Permethrin are outweighed and overwhelmed by the need to respond to the epidemic.

Is that true?

So this is easy. This is all the county commissioners have to do. They need to call the people from the county doctor's association before them. And they need to ask these questions:

1. What do you know about new EPA regs restricting the application of this chemical by private persons and commercial applicators?

2. Are these restrictions associated with health risks?

3. Why would the health risks be less if the same chemical were sprayed from an airplane than if applied by a pesticide guy with a low-pressure wand?

4. Can you show us the research you looked at that told you spraying Permethrin from an airplane is an effective way to combat West Nile? Please give us citations for articles and other research on the efficacy of this approach?

Look, for all I know, the doctors are going to have great answers to all of these questions, responses that will blow this English and History major right out of the water. I think it's what we would expect.

If they've got good answers and it turns out this really is a known, proven, effective way to fight West Nile, then I wasted everybody's time and I need to go back to my occasional diet of crow.

Here's what I worry. The commissioners will not ask shit. The medical society's answers would be shit if somebody did ask. The county will spray shit on us anyway.

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27 comments
revtheory_1_17
revtheory_1_17

looks like dallas gets to be beta tested to see how it all works.....there is more standing water mixed with heat out in here in tyler but no west nile...a little wierd to me.   what is wrond with protective clothing and some OFF?  better to hose everyone down from above i guess.....

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

Looks like when cats usually get messed up with permethrin it is due to someone applying a dog formulation to their cat. 

From a vet site, everything you might want to know about some of the more common pesticides on the market and your critters

http://www.vspn.org/Library/misc/VSPN_M01289.htm

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

First thing I want to know is what rate they are putting it out. Dosage please. For it to be effective in an urban environment with the density of the foliage they will likely have to increase the amount of permethrin per gallon to exceed that which is normally done. Yeah, it might work, but at what cost? Here is a link to a study done on aerial spraying from 96, some of the data is forty years old, but the methodology is pretty sound "insecticide dose be increased ^-2fold compared normal d ses achieve satisfactory mosquito control. " conclusion note 4

http://www.westnile.ca.gov/news_multi_media/mos_cont_articles/26.pdf 

and here is the basic outline of the stuff from extoxnet, maintained by Oregon State, no mention of cats though. 

http://extoxnet.orst.edu/pips/permethr.htm

will keep digging 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Aerial spraying has been used for decades across the country without deleterious effects.  Why all the hubbub?

Albert
Albert

I lived in LA when they sprayed for fruit flies, didn't seem to affect anyone. But it was kind of hard to tell.

Bremarks
Bremarks

Someone needs to remind the good doctors of the "first you do no harm" part of their portfolio.  This is crazy nuts.  Did they screen just Contagion?

darrd2010
darrd2010

4 Good questions Jim, let's see how the County will answer that. I think it's time to ask Brett Shipp to call on the court and see what kind of answers he gets.

Adam2012
Adam2012

"I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning.  We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Mosquito after mosquito..."

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

is Permethrin worse than 100% Deet?

 

The vet says West Nile ain't no more virullent this year than in years past.  Still killin' horses at the same rate.

 

seems they're more vulnerable than us.

 

Just got back from Honduras and am set to go back this month.

 

West Nile ain't shit.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I know the effects of west nile I dont know the effects of spraying a toxic haze that some states wont allow, please dont haze me bro

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Isit too late to splice mosquito genes into local government officials?

Then we can spray, spray, spray.

 

The sane response is to instruct people to use insect repellent, stay inside at sunup/down, and burn citronella candles.

The lawsuits over the sideeffects (sick/dead pets and people) will be far more damaging.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

My web page won't show me other comments, so I don't know if someone else has already raised this point. I filed my item before Eric's went up. I had not seen the letter he posted from the docs. I called on them to cite sources proving efficacy for aerial spraying. The letter includes sources in footnotes.

HOWEVER: the only source they cite that really goes to the efficacy of aerial spraying for West Nile is the Carney study in 2005, which I deal with in my column in this week's paper. That's a study that was ripped to shreds almost as soon as the paper was published. Carney was an MBA and public health masters degree student when he did this "study." He said his paper was peer reviewed, but he didn't produce the peer reviews even in response to public records demands. The main error, among many, that other scientists say they found in his paper was that he started measuring  West Nile in August when it was beginning its natural decline, then attributed the decline to the spraying.

The Carney paper is often called the "Yale study" by the pesticide companies because Carney was at Yale when he did it, and his work was described in a Yale School of Public Health newsletter. That hardly made it a Yale study.

This isn't even a thin thread: it's no thread. It's window paint. The fact that this is what they offered as their research tells me the medical association was reading some handout from a pesticide company. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

The upside is if the pro-mosquito lobby money-handshakes with JWP it won't happen at all.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @cactusflinthead Can you tell me more about the site you are sending people to? I find it is associated a "Veterinary Support Personnel Network" in Davis, CA. VSPN is not listed in Guidestar as a non-profit, which could mean nothing. Maybe it has another name under which it is listed. Troublingly, they shut you out of their staff page unless you are a  member. Is this a for-profit company? Who are they? It always bothers me when a site doesn't have a pretty up-front "about us" page, but sometimes it's just bad web manners more than chicanery. Tell me, why do you cite them as an authority? 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @cactusflinthead EPA red sheet on Permethrin states: ""DO NOT USE ON CATS. May be toxic or potentially fatal if applied to or ingested by cats. Accidental application to cats and/or grooming a recently treated dog may result in tremors and/or uncoordinated muscle movements. If this occurs, immediate veterinary care should be provided." 

trudat
trudat

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz

 I really expected more from you.  Just because you haven't heard of "deleterious" effects may not necessarily mean that there are none.  Reaching back into the dark and dusty nooks and cracks of my miniscule mind, I seem to have run across a fair amount of literature about "deleterious" aerial spraying.  It seems that from time to time, capable forces have seen fit to pollute the atmosphere with various substances for various purposes.  Among the alleged purposes has been "scientific?" experimentation on the unsuspecting hordes of every day Joes and Janes (like us)who breathe the air.  The point is; watch and know (if you can) what is being spewed into the air.....you never really know unless someone documents it and tells.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @Albert  The deleterious effects are not at all difficult to discern in your particular case. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @JimSX It is a fascinating and captivating read, I'll give it that much.  A real page turner.  However, it seems to lack the same things the Carney report is said to lack: specifically scientific method (or scientists, since none of the authors appear to be one) and peer review.  You appear to be basing the credibility of the report on the URL of website you found it on;  "If they're against it, they must be right!"  

 

I'm not arguing the facts here Jim, I'm far too uneducated to debate this stuff.  I'd tend to side with you and the spray-stoppers, simply based on the %'s of "unknown" chemicals in the sprays used (scary as hell).  I'm merely arguing that the report you put up doesn't seem to be any more credible than the Carney report, even if it is right.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @JimSX that's Livefyre for you.  Worst comment  format/program I've encountered thus far. 

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

 @JimSX No particular reason other than they were handy. Hold on professor, will do some more digging. I did find an abstract on another study, but unless you can get past the paywall not much to see. I just hit "toxicity of permethrin on cats" and that was one of the first to come up. Plenty more where that came from. Back shortly. 

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

 @JimSX Not disputing that cats have a toxic reaction to pyrethroids. Here is the closest thing I found to a study that can be accessed by most folks. But it was in terms of humans risk. Most of the research is geared towards "spot-on" treatments for fleas, etc that are typically applied to cats but designed for dogs. Yeah, there are heaps of bad info out there, but that first one was in line with what I had read elsewhere on the subject even if they seemed a little obscured behind the acronym. 

http://www.springerlink.com/content/3341t3876v225024/

I did find another link about non-target insect species, but I don't think we need evidence of that happening. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @cactusflinthead OK. It's just that the web sucks worse and worse as a source of reliable information with every passing minute because  people can lie faster than they can tell the truth. Paid links have made Google next to useless.

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