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.Sign that I'm a gardening geek: I'm far, far more concerned about what adverse effects this might have on beneficial insects than I am about my own health.
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.
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.Link.
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.
And I appreciate the sentiments expressed by the L.A. Times in this opinion piece from last October:
There's something in the air in Monterey County, and it isn't the ocean breeze. Residents say they're being sickened after the state approved an aerial pesticide spraying program -- and it won't reveal what chemicals they're being forced to breathe.Link.
The state says it has no choice because it is bound by law to protect the trade secrets of the pesticide's maker. If that's the case, it points up a serious problem with trademark law. This isn't the recipe for McDonald's special sauce or the secret formula for Coca-Cola; consumers do not have to ingest those if they don't want to. But it's tough to escape chemicals when they're applied from the air over 60 square miles.