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Synthesis/Regeneration 31   (Spring 2003)

West Nile Virus Spraying

Just for Fun: Ask Your Local Health Department

by Don Fitz, Green Party of St. Louis

The statement below was circulated in the St. Louis area during the summer 2002 spraying. Its suggestions apply to any local health department that sprays synthetic pyrethroids and falsely implies they are “safe.”

The sprays that were used most in 2002 began with permethrin, sumithrin, or resmethrin, which are all synthetic pyrethroids. These are chemical imitations of pyrethrins, which naturally occur in chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethrins protect flowers by paralyzing the nervous system of insects. But the pyrethroids are not used by themselves. Pesticide sprays combine them with other chemicals to make them more toxic.

If St. Louis City says they are spraying sumithrin, this falsely implies that they are spraying sumithrin and nothing else. The fact sheet for the City spray of Anvil 2+2 ULV (made by Clark) says the ingredients are:

2% sumithrin
2% piperonyl butoxide
96% inert ingredients

If St. Louis County says they are spraying permethrin, this falsely implies that they are spraying permethrin and nothing else. The fact sheet for the County spray of Aqua-Reslin (made by Aventis) says the ingredients are:

20% permethrin
20% piperonyl butoxide
60% other ingredients

The “piperonyl butoxide” or PBO which appears in both permethrin and sumithrin is what is known as a “synergist.” Synergists are added to increase the killing power of the pyrethroids by inhibiting liver functions that break down many toxins. According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, “...a heavy exposure to an insecticidal synergist may make a person vulnerable to a variety of toxic insults that would normally be easily tolerated.”

Just for fun, call up your local health department and ask them to identify in writing what the “other ingredients” or “inert ingredients” are in what they spray for WNV. They might have a very hard time doing that. They may give you a song and a dance over the phone, but insist you want the chemical components listed in writing.

The unidentified ingredients are “trade secrets” allowed by the Environmental “Protection” Agency. Under industry pressure, the EPA lets corporations to dump whatever toxic junk they want into the sprays they sell to families and health departments.

The public is not told the chemical composition of the majority of what comprises the sprays. For anyone to say they “know” that the sprays cause little or no harm when they do not even know the composition of the spray is to have a truth quotient which combines the integrity of Bill Clinton with the intellectual capabilities of George Bush the Lesser.

Taking into account the synergist and the unidentified ingredients, the synthetic pyrethroids sprayed in the US are not like misting our streets with gentle flower petals. It is more like dousing us with hemlock on steroids.

Ignoring the 60–96% of the unidentified ingredients in pesticide sprays and ignoring the synergist is to portray a deceitful and dishonest picture of chemical effects. It makes about as much sense as being attacked by someone who is wearing brass knuckles carrying an AK-47 and an Uzi and asking for a health risk assessment based on only the brass knuckles with no mention of the fire power.

[21 apr 03]

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