Great. So tonight the government sprays us with piperonyl butoxide. To reassure us, the TV news last night shows us a guy from the company doing the spraying who tells us just not to worry.
I say worry.
The airplanes tonight will be spraying us with a compound called "Duet" You have heard already that it contains synthetic pyrethroids believed to be harmless to humans. But no one has talked to you about the sleeper agent in Duet, a chemical called piperonyl butoxide which acts as an endocrine disruptor designed to knock down the immune systems of living organisms.
Why worry about that? First off, instead of listening to a guy with his first name on his shirt pocket, we need to hear something from more authoritative sources, lots of whom are out there, virtually none of whom has been consulted by government officials or media concerning the risks of aerial pesticide spraying.
One I have mentioned before is Dr. Andrea Gore at UT Austin, who recently received a two-year, $841,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the effect of chemicals on human genetic inheritance. Gore has been quoted saying that endocrine disrupting chemicals are a significant health risk to humans: "Any level of exposure -- even infinitesimally small -- poses a risk."
Risk of what? The issues Gore and a colleague, David Crews, are examining have been described as slow poisoning that may be making us fatter, sicker and dumber with increased risk of genetic damage to future generations.
Gore and Crews are not outliers. They are at the center of mainstream research. Gore is senior author of the Endocrine Society's scientific statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
In fact there is an entire body of research local health officials could have consulted. The July edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed open access journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, reports that, "mounting evidence suggests gestational pesticides exposures are strong candidates" as causes of some forms of autism.
The article says, "On the basis of experimental and observational research, certain pesticides may be capable of inducing core features of autism ..." The authors single out piperonyl butoxide as worthy of study.
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Instead of taking any kind of measured responsible approach, this entire spraying exercise in Dallas reeks of public panic and political exploitation. After all, we are right at the beginning of the natural decline in the disease. That fact has a necessary effect on the risk/benefit ratio here.
If West Nile is about to decline rapidly on its own, and if we haven't had time to consider the real risks of spraying, why would we take the chance of bad long-term effects right now? This whole thing is an exercise in weak leadership caving in to a media-induced panic and a lot of political pressure from affluent neighborhoods where people water their lawns too much.
When have you ever seen the mayors of the two Park Cities on television before? Those guys are practically incognito most of the time. This is all about pouring oil on a few squeaky wheels at significant risk to true public health.
The risks have been subtly pooh-poohed as having to do only with a possible threat to honey bees and lady bugs. Well, guess again. Think of Honey Bee and Lady Bug as pet names for your grandchildren.