Wait, Wait, Can We Talk? Before We Dump a Bunch of Chemicals from Planes? Please?
So I was right yesterday. As Eric just reported, the pressure is on to escalate the local war on West Nile from truck spraying of pesticides to airplane spraying.
This decision will be left to that august body the Dallas County Commissioners Court, scheduled at its next meeting to take up a proposal from the Dallas County Medical Society.
The TV report I saw last night referred several times to the medical society as "medical authorities" and some of the county's brightest medical minds, or something to that effect. I'm not sure what any of that has to do with knowledge of environmental and human hazards presented by broadcast dissemination of neurotoxins, which is what they will be carpet-bombing us with it this goes through.
But be that as it may. These are people who made it through medical school, which puts them several miles above my level on anything to do with science. Let's take all of this at face value and give people the benefit of the doubt.
I have been reporting here about the perils of Permethrin, the chemical the city is spraying now from trucks at night and probably the same the county would spray from airplanes. It's a broad-spectrum pesticide that basically kills everything flying and is a life-threatening danger to some pets, according to the EPA. The EPA says in its disclosures that it doesn't know much about what it does to humans.
The urgency here is real. It's the soaring incidence of West Nile diseases in the area and the conviction that somebody in leadership ought to do something. The argument will be that whatever hazards are associated with Permethrin are outweighed and overwhelmed by the need to respond to the epidemic.
Is that true?
So this is easy. This is all the county commissioners have to do. They need to call the people from the county doctor's association before them. And they need to ask these questions:
1. What do you know about new EPA regs restricting the application of this chemical by private persons and commercial applicators?
2. Are these restrictions associated with health risks?
3. Why would the health risks be less if the same chemical were sprayed from an airplane than if applied by a pesticide guy with a low-pressure wand?
4. Can you show us the research you looked at that told you spraying Permethrin from an airplane is an effective way to combat West Nile? Please give us citations for articles and other research on the efficacy of this approach?
Look, for all I know, the doctors are going to have great answers to all of these questions, responses that will blow this English and History major right out of the water. I think it's what we would expect.
If they've got good answers and it turns out this really is a known, proven, effective way to fight West Nile, then I wasted everybody's time and I need to go back to my occasional diet of crow.
Here's what I worry. The commissioners will not ask shit. The medical society's answers would be shit if somebody did ask. The county will spray shit on us anyway.
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