California Plans to Spray Pesticide Over Urban San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay


Cryptogon
February 16th, 2008

Warning

“I suppose it’s all just a coincidence that Arnold Schwarzenegger selected a belt buckle to wear—on the cover of a mass circulation news magazine—that features a human skull. Sure, Arnold’s dad was a Nazi and Arnold denies that he admired Hitler and liked to pretend to be an SS officer, despite eyewitness accounts to the contrary, and yeah, the skull and crossbones (Totenkopf) happened to be associated with the Schutzstaffel-Totenkopf, or SS Death’s Head units, the Nazis responsible for the operation of the Third Reich’s concentration camps…

But that’s all just got to be a coincidence.”

What’s the Story with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Belt Buckle?

I read some of the San Francisco Chronicle article below outloud to Becky. She walked into the room carrying the Winter 2007 Wise Traditions. She had it open to page 12 and said, “Look at this!”

There’s an article in the Caustic Commentary section called Hormone Attack about this situation in California. Since I can’t find the article online, I’ll just type some of it in:

The Checkmate pesticides are endocrine disrupters that attach to estrogen receptors and force the activation and constant production of estrogen in men, women and children. The compound is delivered in tiny plastic micro-capsules that float in the air like pollen and which have not been tested on humans. One chemical used in the production of these capsules is the preservative BHT, which carries the label, “Do not inhale this product. Dangerous to respiratory health.” And BHT, also known as DBPC, can cause sterility in men.

Here are a couple of sections from the Checkmate OLR-F label (complete, hi-resolution image):

I wonder which company has the contract to carry out this atrocity?

Via: San Francisco Chronicle:

The state agriculture department plans to use airplanes at night this summer to spray a farm pesticide over urban San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay, intending to eradicate a potentially destructive moth.

The little-known proposal to wipe out the light brown apple moth, which if it became established could destroy the region’s agricultural industry, has developed increasing opposition among some residents who fear for their health.

Hundreds of people whose homes and yards were sprayed in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties from September to December have filed reports that said the pesticide seems to have caused coughing, wheezing, muscle aches and headaches, among other symptoms. One Monterey family reported that a child had a first-time asthma attack.

State officials say the amount of pesticide applied shouldn’t pose severe health risks, but they’ve also refused to rule out that the spray can affect humans, particularly sensitive people such as children and the elderly.

Spraying of the pesticide, called Checkmate, is expected to begin in the Bay Area in August and could continue for five years over San Francisco, Daly City, Colma, Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Tiburon and Belvedere. Other chemicals could also be used.

Before its use in Santa Cruz and Monterey last year, the pesticide, a hormone that throws off the scents of mating moths, had been used aerially only over farms and never over populated areas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture obtained an “emergency exemption from registration” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that allows the agency to use the pesticide in aerial sprays over California cities. Because of that exemption, the spraying program isn’t subject to state approval, according to representatives of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.

There is no widespread infestation of the light brown apple moth, but U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say they are trying to head off a potential disaster. The federal agency has given the California Department of Food and Agriculture $74.5 million to conduct the spraying program, which officials say is warranted because an international survey of pests ranks the moth high as a threat, and moths have been found in the state, primarily in the Bay Area. The little moth was first trapped in Alameda County in March. The state agricultural agency followed up and found moths in 11 counties, said Larry Hawkins, a USDA spokesman.

The moth’s larvae stunts seedlings, pits leaves and can damage fruit trees, citrus and grapes.

Its potential spread to almost every plant around, including native trees, threatens crops worth up to $640 million a year, he said. The pesticide over time reduces the moth population by interfering with its ability to reproduce and doesn’t require the use of a more toxic insecticide, Hawkins said.

Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the state agricultural department, said new trapping data for 2008 could change the aerial spray program set for Marin, San Francisco and the East Bay.

“But right now, based on what we know, it will go ahead,” he said.

In response to complaints from residents from Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, several state agencies – the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the Public Health Department – issued a statement that acknowledged that eye, skin or respiratory irritations reported by residents could have been caused by high applications but not by low ones.

“The toxicological information on the Checkmate product indicates that exposure to high levels of the applied material would be consistent with many of the reported symptoms,” the statement read.

The pesticide levels used in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties were extremely low, the agencies said, making it unlikely that anyone was exposed to a high dose.

However, the statement cautioned that “not all health effects can be predicted and because the general population includes susceptible (people), such as children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases, we cannot provide a definitive cause for their symptoms.”

The USDA’s Hawkins said the EPA has generally not been concerned over the toxicity of Checkmate. For example, he said, the agency never set a maximum limit for the pesticide in food or required farm workers to stay out of fields that had just been sprayed.

“It’s not a material the EPA would have any concern about,” Hawkins said.

Many residents in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties are joining an umbrella group, California Alliance to Stop the Spray, or CASS, to fight the continuing spraying program, which is expected to resume June 1.

More than 600 people from the two counties have reported symptoms, including asthma attacks, bronchial irritation, lung congestion and soreness, difficulty breathing, coughing and eye and throat irritation.

Dr. Randy Baker, a family practitioner in Soquel, said he treated about a dozen patients with a range of symptoms when the area was being sprayed. Although he said there was no way to ascertain a cause-and-effect relationship, he had a number of concerns about the pesticide, including the fact that it was not tested for use over urban areas.

“There is tremendous individual variation in the ability of people to process and detoxify environmental chemicals. For example, there could be a prescription medicine that 100 people take with minimal adverse effect but another person could take it and suffer extreme side effects and even death,” Baker said.

Baker was also shocked that the agricultural department started spraying the chemical on an evening when people were out walking in Santa Cruz.

“At 8 p.m., they started spraying in the most populated areas of Santa Cruz County. I have patients who didn’t know the spray was happening who were out walking on Mission Avenue. Clearly, the greatest danger is a person being out of doors when the planes are going over. They’re going to be inhaling the chemicals,” Baker said.

Further complicating the issue is that some residents say they simply don’t trust the government information. The pheromone is not the only chemical in the spray. Checkmate also contains at least 10 other ingredients.

The product contains a surfactant, which could have coated the more than 600 birds that turned up injured after the spraying last year as far north as Año Nuevo and south to Del Monte Beach in Monterey, they say. Government agencies attributed the substance that coated the birds to algal changes.


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