It's mosquito season! And you know what that means? Your cities and counties will be spraying larvicides and pesticides all over your property and your little kids toys...Joy!! Maybe the run off will get into our water systems! Even better!
Now, as you know, me and chemicals don't mix very well and the fact that they will be sprinkled down the street in front on my house like Santa tossing candy, makes me bonkers.
Last week I had a friendly little chat with my county mosquito inspector. I found out that the pesticide they use on our streets and lawns is called Scourge (At least in NJ). The main active ingredients are resmethrin and piperonyl butoxide. According to the NJ and NY State Health Departments resmethrin is a man-made pyrethroid insecticide and piperonyl butoxide acts to increase the ability of resmethrin to kill insects. These active ingredients are dissolved in a petroleum solvent, similar to paint thinner or kerosene...and there you have it...death to thousands of mosquitoes...sounds great so far right?
First let me tell you what the state health departments say about this toxic mixture. Short-term exposures to high levels of pyrethroid can affect the nervous system, causing loss of coordination, tremors, dizziness or tingling and numbness in areas of skin contact. Short-term exposure to high levels of petroleum solvents can cause irritation of the eye, skin, nose, throat or lungs. There are currently no studies on the long term effects of being exposed to this mixture...but I am going to go out on a limb and say it's not good.
The chemical resmethrin has been shown in studies to act as an androgen, which is a class of naturally occurring hormones. So we can call this chemical an endocrine distributor...like BPA you hear about in plastic. What this does is interfere with the endocrine system which is made up of glands that produce hormones that act together for development, growth, reproduction, behavior, and the maintenance of normal organ function. When animals were given high levels of this resmethrin...there was evidence that showed changes in thyroid hormone levels and they developed tumors in the liver....And this is not the only pesticides that has this effect on the bodies of animals and humans...it's bad news (insert plug for eating organic.)
Piperonyl butoxide, the second active ingredient is a suspected carcinogen and believed to be highly toxic to the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal, reproductive and nervous systems. Like resmethrin it is toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic life. In animals it is shown to attack the nervous system and then the resmethrin prevents the bug or animal from detoxing the chemical. This is why testing shows liver tumors developing in rats that were given pyrethroids. The liver is their main pathway for detoxification. Ours is too. So lets not be naive and think it can't and wouldn't do the same thing to our bodies.
Now onto what the EPA says about pyrethroids. On their website they list them as a neurotoxin substance especially during development. In studies of young mice the chemical made changes in neurological active proteins in the brain. They also state that studies show adults have demonstrated altered nerve function and have developed nervous disorders from high levels of exposure. A second study mentioned, showed the little devil increased incidences of anti-nuclear antibodies which are big markers for auto-immune diseases.
Some of my research showed this toxic mix will stay in the soil for at least six months...ugh. The good news is the transfer of the residue only lasts for a few days and if you make attempts to wash it off of objects it will break down easily.
So why doesn't the town inform people and tell you this cloud of toxins could be unsafe? Well Camden County's mosquito inspector said "some people can have a reaction" and if I am worried about it I should wash off any toys left outside. That's it. That was his warning...but this guy is just doing his job and like many people in our society if a government agency tells them its safe in low doses...they believe them...I...well I don't. Anything that could paralyze and then slowly kill a bug, by preventing it from metabolizing the chemical and is toxic to some birds and amphibians...can't be safe for people. Aside from studies, common sense would tell me so.
So look...my words to the wise are this...find out when your county or town is spraying...you can call them or check their websites(they came to my house to discuss this with me-yes, I'm that lady)...it usually happens overnight, so make sure you stay inside. Cover your gardens unless you are into that sort of thing. Put away kids toys that you can...especially things like water tables where kids drink from (before you can yell at them to not drink the water everyone is putting their dirty little hands in.) Whatever you can't put away, wash well the next day. If you can kill the AC for the hours they will be spraying even better...I told my husband he better hope its not a hot night because he will be sweating like he actually ran that triathlon he always talks about doing.
My last note..According to the EPA, Pyrethroids are used everyday on agricultural crops, particularly fruits and vegetables. So friends I urge you...if you can't buy organic make sure you are washing your fruits and vegetables well. If I have to eat non-organic I soak them in a vinegar water mixture for about 5-10 minutes. This should get rid of all the nasty residue left. You can also place them in a colander and let the water wash over them. The force of the running water will wash off most of the pesticide junk. Or you can just peel them. You don't want to be eating what Monsanto be making.
Love you guys!
Camden County peoples...HERE is the website where they will post the areas they will be spraying. They start JUNE 6!! As of today (June 1) they have not posted any areas yet...but I have been hassling them...so it should be up soon!