APPENDIX II-BZ: “An Open Letter by Concerned Physicians and Scientists: Stop the Indiscriminate Spraying of ‘Friendly Fire’ Pesticides.”
This appendix is copied from:
AN OPEN LETTER
BY CONCERNED PHYSICIANS
STOP THE INDISCRIMINATE SPRAYING
OF “FRIENDLY FIRE” PESTICIDES
Re: INDISCRIMINATE AND MASSIVE SPRAYING AGAINST MOSQUITOES
CARRYING WEST NILE VIRUS –– PUBLIC HEALTH, LEGAL, AND OTHER
SUMMARY: INDISCRIMINATE AND UNNECESSARY SPRAYING OF
“FRIENDLY FIRE” PESTICIDES, ESPECIALLY IN HEAVILY POPULATED
URBAN AREAS, IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS TO HUMAN HEALTH AND
THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT THAN WEST NILE VIRUS.
THE HEALTH OF MANY PEOPLE IS DETERIORATING AND WILL
FURTHER DETERIORATE, SOMETIMES SERIOUSLY, AS A RESULT OF
EXPOSURE TO “FRIENDLY FIRE PESTICIDES” USED IN THE
CHEMICAL WAR AGAINST MOSQUITOES. THOSE WHO ARE
ESPECIALY VULNERABLE INCLUDE CHILDREN, THE OFFSPRING OF
PREGNANT WOMEN, CHEMICALLY SENSITIVE OR
IMMUNOSUPPRESSED INDIVIDUALS, SUCH AS PATIENTS WITH AIDS
AND CANCER, AND THOSE SUFFERING WITH ASTHMA AND OTHER
ALERGIES. THERE SHOULD BE WIDESPREAD AWARENESS OF THE
FAR-REACHING PUBLIC HEALTH, ECONOMIC AND LEGAL
RAMIFICATIONS OF SUCH MASSIVE SPRAYING. THERE ARE OTHER,
SAFE APPROACHES THAT CAN BE USED TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE.
We, the undersigned physicians and scientists, have a particular
interest in the impact of chemical pesticides on human health, and in
ensuring that there is a proper widespread awareness about this
We want to alert everyone to the little known data published in
peer reviewed scientific journals which has far reaching
public health and legal consequences.
Our grave concern lies with the fact that resorting to a mass
spraying program to protect the population against mosquitoes
fire" pesticides. The health impact of such spraying affects not only
those living in the area, but may potentially affect visitors as well. It
has been recognized that even a single exposure can trigger
manifestation of clinical symptoms in predisposed individuals. These
include those living in the area as well as transient visitors passing
through. This program poses much more danger to human
health than the extremely small health risk presented by the
mosquito, the carrier of this virus, run very little risk of serious
· According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
extremely low (1).
· The New York City Department of Health Question and
Answer Bulletin advises that, "very few mosquitoes --
perhaps only one out of 1,000 -- are infected. Even
if you are bitten by an infected female mosquito,
your chances of developing illness are roughly
one in 300" (2).
If symptoms do develop, they are usually mild and include headaches, muscle
aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph glands. More serious infections may
cause headaches with high fever. It is extremely rare for a person to develop
encephalitis (1,2). Almost all people who developed West Nile virus
encephalitis in New York City and the surrounding areas in 1999 (62 people,
seven died) and 2000 (11 people, one died) were elderly and
Furthermore, even in those cases where death was attributed to
West Nile virus infection, the cause of death in these cases
may not be West Nile virus. West Nile virus positively could be a
coincidental finding. In other words, the cause of death may have
been some disease process unrelated to the West Nile virus.
Hundreds of individuals who had no symptoms tested positive
for West Nile virus antibodies, proving that they were exposed
to the virus. They never became ill; and until they were tested,
they did not even know that they had been exposed to the virus (3).
Compared to thousands of people who die each year of the flu
(approximately 2,500 in the New York City metropolitan area
alone), or the number of children who die of asthma, the
number of people who tested positive for West Nile virus and
died of encephalitis -- eight people in the last two years
combined -- is extremely small.
THE VIRUS IS NOT TRANSMITTED FROM PERSON TO
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, not
from person to person. Female mosquitoes acquire the virus
when biting an infected bird. The virus must be repeatedly
transferred back and forth between infected mosquitoes and animal
reservoirs (usually birds) before it poses a risk to humans.
INEFFICACY OF PESTICIDE SPRAYING
Indiscriminate pesticide spraying over an urban area is an ineffective
and very dangerous attempt at controlling mosquitoes, and thereby
controlling the West Nile virus (4-29). Not only will repeated
spraying fail to eradicate the mosquitoes, the spray program
leads to the survival of those mosquitoes resistant to pesticides.
This resistance is passed on to new generations, leading to endless
cycles of increased pesticide spraying each year. Health
officials in New York have already announced that they are
planning to continue the spraying repeatedly in future years.
SAFE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO CONTROL MOSQUITOES DO
Ironically, these "friendly fire" pesticides are most dangerous
to the same group of people for whose protection the
spraying is being conducted: those with weakened immune
systems, small children, and the elderly. Additionally, the impact
of spraying is especially harmful to chemically sensitive people,
those suffering from asthma and other allergies, and to the offspring
of pregnant women.
Even the recommended mosquito repellent D.E.E.T. can have
serious repercussions. In 1998, D.E.E.T. was found to cause
seizures and even death in children (3,30).
There are safer, more effective ways than using chemical pesticide
use to control mosquitoes. These methods include disrupting
mosquito breeding cycles by removing stagnant water, etc., as
recommended by New York City Department of Health; safe natural
mosquito repellents, etc.
Among natural mosquito repellent products containing herbal
extracts and oils is Nature 99 Herbal Extract, a natural repellant
containing essential oils from the twigs and leaves of the Eucalyptus
Citriodora plant which has an extraordinarily high content of citronella.
Other natural products include Royal Neem (a blend of herbs,
essential oils and aloe), Nature's Body Guard, and Zetastop.
Combining these approaches will not only avoid damage to
human health and the ecosystem, but it will also avert
litigation and the economic consequences brought about by
the current program.
IMPACT OF PESTICIDES ON HUMAN HEALTH
To properly assess the impact of pesticides on human health, it is
not enough to view the aerial and truck spraying in isolation. It is
necessary to take into account all other sources of pesticide
exposure as well. The combined effect of these various exposures
and their interactions (known as "synergistic effects") can strongly
increase the harmful consequences of spraying (9).
Pesticide residues are found everywhere -- in air, water, soil, rain,
fog, snow, food, livestock, wildlife, and human beings. Chemical
pesticides and other pollutants are constantly being woven into our
bodies. They have been detected in the body tissues of everyone
tested, regardless of country, place of origin, residence, occupation,
age, sex or social class.
A United States/Canadian study has detected pesticides in the
amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus in one third of human
pregnancies (31). Pesticides and other pollutants have also been
detected in the body tissues of children even before their birth
and in the fluid surrounding the eggs of infertile Canadian
women (9). The long term and future impact of such exposure is not
fully known because throughout the millions of years of our
existence, humanity had never been exposed to chemical pesticides
However it is known that exposure to chemical pesticide residues,
especially chronic exposure, even at low levels, can cause:
disruption of hormone regulation
defective sexual development
exacerbation of asthma
and many other health problems.
Especially disturbing is the finding that cancer, genetic damage
and other health problems related to pesticide exposure may be
transmitted by affected individuals not only to their offspring, but
also to further generations (9).
Even a single exposure to pesticides can trigger:
latent environmental sensitivities
chronic fatigue syndrome
behavioral changes such as irritability, anxiety, depression,
aggressiveness and personality changes
concentration difficulties, memory and learning problems
loss of libido
other health problems (4-29).
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stated that "Sometimes you've got
to make tough choices and people get angry at you. ... The reality is
that danger to human life is more important than birds, fish and
insects." What has not been taken into account is that the danger to
human health caused by the indiscriminate spraying of pesticides is
far greater than the danger of acquiring viral encephalitis from
In their book, Chemical Eposures -- Low Levels and High Stakes
(4), Nicholas Ashford, Ph.D., J.D., associate professor of technology
and policy at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, and
Claudia Miller, M.D., state:
"In a survey of 6,800 persons claiming to be
chemically sensitive, 80 percent asserted they knew
'when, where, with what, and how they were made ill.'
Of the 80 percent, 60 percent -- almost half of those
who replied -- blamed pesticides."
THE IMPACT OF CHEMICAL PESTICIDES ON IMMUNITY
Although some pesticides have been banned or restricted because
they were recognized as posing serious threats to human health, so
far little attention has been given to what may be the greatest
danger of pesticides -- impairment of the human immune
The World Resources Institute's report "Pesticides and the
Immune System: The Public Health Risks," (32) documents the
impact of widely used chemical pesticides on the immunity of
animals as well as humans. Their conclusion, based on an extensive
body of experimental and epidemiological research from around the
world is that: Impairment of the immune system by chemical
pesticides can lead to allergies, autoimmune disorders such
as lupus and cancer. It may also lead to infections to which
one may be normally resistant (9,32). In other words exposure
to spraying with chemical pesticides may actually increase the
risk of developing West Nile virus encephalitis.
The World Resources Institute presents scientific evidence that
pesticide-related health problems are much more serious than
what is generally acknowledged, and that the steps now
underway to resolve this issue are far from adequate (32).
In 1999, to quell mosquitoes thought to be carrying West Nile
virus, New York City aerially sprayed Fyfanon ULV (malathion),
a potential cancer-triggering pesticide. The NY State
Department of Environmental Conservation has attributed a
1999 die-off of thousands of fish in Staten Island to Malathion
poisoning. The spraying campaign subsequently affected the
Hudson River area, the Long Island Sound and the Great
South Bay, and has been blamed for causing the largest mass
extermination of lobsters in history. Roughly eleven million
lobsters, 90 per cent of the full population, perished.
Connecticut and New York lobstermen plan to file suit against
the companies that manufacture and apply the pesticides used
in spraying. Seventy five million dollars is being sought in
compensatory damages. The lawsuit is the culmination of nine
months of research conducted by a group of scientists.
Last year, the pesticides Anvil 10+10 (10 percent Sumithrin, 10
percent piperonyl butoxide, and 80 percent "inert" ingredients) and
Scourge (Resmethrin) were used. Both of these pesticides are Type
I synthethic pyrethroids, manufactured in the laboratory to mimic the
natural anti-insect pyrethrins extracted from chrysanthemum flowers.
Anvil 10+10 is a relatively new pesticide. There have been few tests of any kind on
this product on either animal or human subjects. Although both Anvil 10+10 and
Scourge have been approved for sale, this approval does not mean they are
harmless. According to the
10+10 nor Scourge has ever been tested for their impact on the immune
system because "it has not been required to test for immunity" (33).
Recent research on pyrethroids has found that they have a mode of
action similar to chlorinated pesticides such as cyclodienes
(chlordane, aldrin, etc.). These pesticides were banned in the United
States in the 1980's due to their dangerous impact on human health
and the environment.
A 1998 study by Drs. Joan Garey and
Mary S. Wolff of
the main pesticide in Anvil 10+10, disrupts human hormone
balance and has been shown to increase the growth of breast
cancer cells in test tubes (34).
The study concluded: "Overall, our studies imply that each pyrethroid
compound is unique in its ability to influence several cellular
pathways. These findings suggest that pyrethroids should be
considered to be hormone disruptors, and their potential to affect
endocrine function in humans and wildlife should be investigated"
Once pesticides and other chemicals are released into the
environment, their spread cannot be controlled. For example,
radioactively traced pesticides sprayed over the UK were detected
five to seven days later in the southern USA; traces of insecticides
used in tropical areas were detected in Arctic trees (35). Global air
currents, hurricanes, etc., can transport pesticides and other
chemicals even to other hemisphere (6,32).
The inability to contain the impact of chemical weapons to a desired
geographical area was recognized already during World War I and
was the main reason why, after World War I, the use of chemical
weapons was banned by international agreement. (This fact has
been subsequently forgotten.)
It is estimated that 6 to 15 per cent of the population is
chemically sensitive. If only 10 per cent of an 8 million
population would be chemically sensitive, the number of
people potentially affected by chemical pesticides, such as
Anvil 10+10 and Scourge, which have a tendency to cause
allergies and neurological problems, could reach eight
hundred thousand people.
To these eight hundred thousand potentially affected people
must be added an additional unknown number of children as
well as the offspring of pregnant women who may be negatively
affected by residual traces of pesticides while in the womb. Both
these groups may become sensitized and may develop adverse
reactions ranging from mild to life threatening.
Considering the cumulative multigenerational destructive
impact of pesticides, especially on children's development
and behavior, it is frightening to imagine the delayed
consequences of repeated pesticide spraying for those who
have allergies or weakened immune systems, for those who
are chemically sensitive, as well as for our children and future
ALL LIFE FORMS INCLUDING HUMANS ARE VULNERABLE
TO TOXIC EFFECTS OF PESTICIDES
Cells are the basic structural unit of plants, insects, animals and
human beings. Despite the large differences in function and shape
of our cells, we share the same basic cell blueprint, including the
same basic biochemical metabolic processes, with other living
organisms, including mosquitoes.
Each cell – whether from a plant or an insect or an animal -
is a microscopic bag with a nucleus (apart from red cells),
containing chromosomes in the form of DNA, and a fluid
material called cytoplasm. The cell is surrounded by a
membrane -- an "outer skin" -- and contains additional
specialized structures such as mitochondria for the
generation of energy.
Children's special susceptibility to pesticides was first widely
publicized by the National Research Council (NRC) in their 1993
report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. The NRC
concluded that children are not adequately protected from
· Children are exposed to pesticides early during
their prenatal development when the pesticides and
other pollutants are shifted from the bodies of their
mothers through placenta to their body tissues.
· They then receive an additional load through breast milk
and later through the food.
· On average, children receive greater exposure to
pesticides because they consume, for their size, more
calories, drink more water (frequently contaminated by
pesticides) and eat more fruit and vegetables (which
are commonly sprayed), and breathe more air than
· Children's metabolic systems are still immature,
their enzymes, livers and kidneys have difficulties
eliminating toxic substances.
The NRC recommended changes in the regulation of pesticides.
Many of these changes were included in a 1996 law (the Food
Quality Protection Act (FQPA)), but have yet to be fully implemented.
An effort must be made to develop and rediscover the safe
approaches to the control of pests including mosquitoes. There are
safer, more effective ways than pesticide use to control
mosquitoes, such as disrupting mosquito breeding cycles by
removing stagnant water; the use of products such as Mosquito
Magnet, safe natural mosquito repellents, (or less ideally, BTI
approach - Bacillus thuringiensis v. israelis which should not be
sprayed in the cities due to potential impact on human health). Such
approaches will not only avoid damage to human health and
ecosystem, but will also avert litigation.
The use of chemical pesticides started about fifty years ago. The
chemical pesticides that were once touted as being a "wonderful,
safe approach" to pest control are now known to contaminate our
bodies and the bodies of our children, even before their birth. They
are destroying our ecosystem -- and us.
Chemical pesticides are deliberately made to be poisonous in
order to kill or slowly destroy undesirable forms of life.
However, because we share the common basic cellular and
biochemical blueprint with other life forms, chemical
pesticides produce "toxic broad spectrum" impacts,
damaging or killing various useful insects, animals, and plants
as well as damaging human health.
If we do not stop the indiscriminate use of pesticides, we will
continue to endanger the quality of our own health and more
crucially, the healthy physical and mental development of our
children and future generations.
As stated by Agriculture
kill… All chemical pesticides are harmful to humans.
For this reason, the indiscriminate and unnecessary use
of chemical pesticides needs to be abandoned and
(Please see next page)
Prof. Emer. William Rea, M.D.
First World Professioral Chair of
University of Surrey, UK
Director of Environmental Health Unit
Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
Ed Napke, B.Sc., M.D., DPH.
Former Medical Officer in Charge of the
Canadian Drug Adverse Reaction
Reporting Program and Canadian
Poison Control Program (1965-1989)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Prof. Emer. Joseph Cummins, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
Prof. Samuel Epstein
Professor of Environmental and Occupational
Medicine, School of Public Health,
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition
Libuse Gilka, M.D.
Physicians and Scientists for a
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Sheldon Krimsky, Ph.D.
Department of Urban & Environmental
Policy, Tufts University
Melford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., G.N.S.U.
International Institute of Concern for Public
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
E. Angelopoulos, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology Parantology and
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Prof. Emer. Ross H. Hall, Ph.D.
Former Chairperson, Department of
Biology McMaster University Health
Science Faculty and Ministry
Environmental Priority Substance Panel
Former Chairperson Health Committee
Dr. K.J. Kerr
110 Manor Road E.
Toronto On l M5S 1P0
International Joint Committee
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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World, February, 2000.
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on the Horizon, Rev Environ Health: 14(1): 39-50 1999.
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Antiprogestagenic Activities of Pyrethroid Insecticides, Biochemical
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Cancer and the Environment, Publishers, Addision Wesley, 1997.
36. Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 107, no. 3, March 1999,
pages 173 177.
- A study done by the Roger Williams General Hospital,
Brown University: This study on pyrethroids concludes:
"Chronic exposure of humans or animals to pesticides
containing these compounds may result in disturbances in
endocrine effects." [Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, March
1990, volume 35, issue 3-4, pages 409-414];
- Cambridge University: A report issued in June 2000 by the
Royal Society in England and written by a group from
Cambridge University called for international cooperation to
deal with the dangers posed by endocrine disrupting
chemicals, including pyrethroids, and recommends reducing
human exposure to these chemicals. There are also links
between insecticides and reduction of testosterone levels in
- University of Greifswald: Several pesticides used as
herbicides, insecticides and fungicides known to be
endocrine disrupting chemicals were examined in this series
of German studies. Acute and chronic pesticide exposure
led to changes in sex hormone concentrations, with
concentrations of testosterone decreasing one day after
acute exposure. These studies found "a hormonal and
immune suppression after acute exposure." ["Disruption of
male sex hormones with regard to pesticides," Toxicology
Letters, June 30, 1999; 107(1 3):225-31]; Also, see links
between pyrethroids and childhood brain cancers:
- A study of pesticides and childhood brain cancers has
revealed a strong relationship between brain cancers and
compounds used to kill fleas and ticks, according to a report
published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study
concludes "The specific chemicals associated with
children's brain cancers were pyrethrins and pyrethroids
(which are synthetic pyrethrins, such as permethrin,
tetramethrin, allethrin, resmethrin and fenvalerate) and
chlorpyrifos (trade name: Dursban)." [Janice M. Pogoda and
Susan Preston Martin, "Household Pesticides and Risk of
Pediatric Brain Tumors," Environmental Health
Perspectives, vol. 105, no. 11 (November 1997), pages
1214-1220.] The EPA, in June 2000, halted sales of
Dursban. And, links between pyrethroids and neurological
- Several studies have indicated neurological damage
resulting from exposure to pyrethroids, and some of the
damages have been found to be long term. Ludwig
Maximilians University: This study, conducted by the
Physiological Institute at Ludwig Maximilians University in
Munich, Germany, found that although "a majority of
complaints following an acute pyrethroid intoxication
disappeared after the end of exposure," several effects
were still seen in patients after more than two years. Among
these long term symptoms were "(1) cerebro organic
disorders (reduced intellectual performance with 20%-30%
reduction of endurance during mental work, personality
disorder), visual disturbances, dysacousia, tinnitus; (2)
sensomotor polyneuropathy, most frequently in the lower
legs; (3) vegetative nervous disorders," including increased
heat sensitivity and reduced exercise tolerance due to
circulatory disorder. The study concludes "Many of these
patients exhibit pathological autoimmune diagnostical
findings and developed autoimmune diseases." [Toxicology
Letters, 1999 June 30;107(1 3):161-76.];
- Uppsala University: This study, conducted by the
Department of Environmental Toxicology at Uppsala
University in Sweden studied mice, not humans, but found
that "low dose exposure" to pyrethroids "resulted in
irreversible changes in adult brain function in the mouse"
when exposed during the growth period. This occurred at
levels of exposure less than what was found to affect adult
mice. The study also found "neonatal exposure to a low
dose of a neurotoxic agent can lead to an increased
susceptibility in adults to an agent having a similar
neurotoxic action, resulting in additional behavioral
disturbances and learning disabilities." [Neurotoxicology,
- Northwestern University Medical School: A series of
investigations conducted at Northwestern's Department of
Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry in
Chicago, has found neurological damage from pyrethroids.
One study, conducted by international expert Toshio
Narahashi, finds nervous system damage from pyrethroids
to be comparable to DDT. This study found that "Detailed
voltage clamp and patch clamp analyses have revealed that
pyrethroids and DDT modify the sodium channel to remain
open for an extended period of time." The result of this
damage is "potent effects on the nervous system." ["Nerve
membrane ion channels as the target site of environmental
toxicants," Environmental Health Perspectives, 1987
- A separate study found that pyrethroids cause "membrane
depolarization, repetitive discharges and synaptic
disturbances leading to hyperexcitatory symptoms of
poisoning in animals." This study found that only 1% "of
sodium channel population is required to be modified by
pyrethroids to produce severe hyperexcitatory symptoms."
["Neuronal ion channels as the target sites of insecticides,"
Pharmacol Toxicology, 1996 July;79(1):1-14.];
- Links between pyrethroids and thyroid damage: A study
conducted by four scientists on a variety of pesticides found
a connection to thyroid damage, although this study was
conducted on rats and not on humans. The study
concludes "exposure to organochlorine, organophosphorus,
and pyrethroid insecticides for a relatively short time can
suppress thyroid secretory activity in young adult rats." The
study also said a decrease in body weight seen "suggests
that pyrethroid insecticides can inhibit growth rate." [Journal
of Applied Toxicology, vol. 16, no. 5, pages 397-400, 26
references, 1996.] For comprehensive review of
information on Malathion, see Loretta Brenner, Journal of
Pesticide Reform, Volume 12, Number 4, Winter 1992.
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Eugene,
OR. Also, J Exp Zool 1999 Aug 1;284(3):355-9,
"Morphological alterations in mouse testis by a single dose
of malathion." Contreras HR, Bustos Obregon E Physiology
and Biophysical Program, Institute of Biomedical Sciences,
University of Chile, Santiago 7, Chile; and J Wildl Dis 1999
Jul;35(3):536 41, "Effects of malathion on disease
susceptibility in Woodhouse's toads." Taylor SK, Williams
ES, Mills KW, Department of Veterinary Sciences,
University of Wyoming, Laramie 82070, USA. In these two
1999 animal studies (which were done subsequent to
Brenner's review), one shows that a single dose of
malathion impaired the resistance of frogs to infection. The
other shows that a single dose of malathion damaged
sperm and other cells of the male reproductive system in
mice. Studies like these raise a red flag with regard to
human exposure -- even one time exposure.
This Open Letter is distributed by
The Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP),
Staten Island Citizens for Healthy Alternatives (SICHA),
the No Spray Coalition, and
Refer all questions and comments to:
Édith Smeesters (CAP president)
(450) 441-3899 firstname.lastname@example.org
Katherine Barbera, (SICHA) (718) 273-5489
Louis Blois, (SICHA) Blois@Prodigy.net