Target: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas City Council
Goal: Stop the aerial spraying of pesticides over the Dallas Area.
The city of Dallas is spraying permethrin from trucks at night to kill mosquitoes, in an effort to combat West Nile virus. It intends to begin aerial spraying on August 17. This chemical — a known carcinogen and neurotoxin — also kills bees, adding to an already growing problem and threatening agriculture. In addition, permethrin kills natural predators of mosquitoes such as dragonflies, geckos, and fish that feed on mosquito larvae. It does kill adult mosquitoes, but does nothing to combat mosquito larvae, which quickly become adults and begin the breeding process all over again.
Dallas does indeed have a problem, but there are much safer and more effective methods of tackling the issue. According to Dr. Gene Helmick-Richardson, “It starts with controlling the breeding sites. All stagnant water pools in the area should be located and either drained, treated with larvacides, or populated with mosquito fish. Educational programs like NY’s Fight the Bite program and similar out reach programs have proven effective in preventing exposure and limiting populations of mosquitoes.”
Assistant Director of Code Compliance for Fort Worth, Scott Hanlon, recently told the Fort Worth City Council that “the typical application methods of driving down the street with fog coming out of the back of a truck might be good for those environments right around those roadways, but for those environments that aren’t as close to the roadways, they aren’t as effective… there are residents who have a real concern about potential health impacts, the potential environmental impacts of the use of those chemicals driving down the street and spraying in those neighborhoods. For all those reasons back then, the decision was made that we would endorse the broader based prevention messages and teach people in neighborhoods how to eliminate source pools and how to utilize personal protection strategies to prevent mosquito bites.”
Dallas would be wise to follow Fort Worth’s example.
Dear Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas City Council,
The city of Dallas is engaged in a pesticide-spraying program in an effort to combat West Nile virus, despite the fact that this technique is ineffective at best, and detrimental to the people of North Texas at worst. There are much safer and more effective ways of lowering the mosquito population of the area and preventing mosquito bites.
The removal of standing water in public spaces, and enforcement of standing water laws on private property are much more effective at controlling mosquito populations. Introduction of natural predators to mosquito-prone areas is another proven technique, as well as education campaigns for area citizens. In addition, personal protection such as the covering of skin and the use of insect repellant will help to ensure safety from West Nile.
The money spent on land-based and aerial spraying would be much better spent on these and other techniques that have been proven to work in other cities such as Fort Worth, New York, and Boulder, Colorado. I urge you to stop the current spraying campaign and instead focus on proven methods of mosquito control.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr