Holyoke Pesticide Time-Sensitive Action
Dear Holyoke City Council, Board of Health, and Mayor Murphy,

In August 2020, Massachusetts passed Governor Baker’s emergency
legislation S.2757, aimed at reducing the spread of mosquito-borne
disease and revamping the state’s approach to mosquito management. The
bill allows widespread use of toxic pesticides.

We recommend the Board of Health and City Council hold a joint emergency
meeting with public comment to discuss opting out of aerial/truck
mosquito spraying by the state and adopting a proactive alternative
mosquito control plan modeled on templates at the Northeast Organic
Farming Association’s website at MassQuito Coalition (NOFA MA).

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has extended
the deadline for opting out to May 28. If the state decides to spray for
mosquitoes at any time, communities who have not opted out by that date
will have lost control of decision making.

To opt out of spraying the city must submit an alternative mosquito
control plan to the state for approval. Plans can include effective
measures such as biological controls, larvacide, reducing mosquito
breeding habitat, and engaging in public education to encourage people
to use insect repellents, wear appropriate clothing, and avoid outdoor
activity during peak mosquito hours if there is a heightened risk of
mosquito-borne disease.

Here are some of the reasons we believe that spraying is the wrong thing
to do:

All insects -- including honeybees, native bees, and other pollinators
-- as well as natural predators of mosquito larvae, are harmed or killed
by aerial or roadside pesticide spraying. Humans have been poisoning
insects en masse for decades resulting in a precipitous decline in
insect life, now commonly referred to as an “insect apocalypse.” If we
want to have birds, bats, butterflies, mosquito predators and other
wildlife, not to mention food to eat in the future, we must stop the
indiscriminate use of pesticides now.

The state’s current pesticide of choice, Anvil 10+10, is highly toxic
and not acceptable, especially given the availability of minimum risk
certified alternatives. Recently published reports in the Boston Globe
indicate this product also contains undisclosed PFAS ‘forever chemicals’
associated with a range of diseases. The unknowns associated with toxic,
EPA-registered pesticides underline the need for alternatives,
especially given the recent enormous deception by Monsanto regarding the
cancer risks of its glysophate-based pesticide and the recent federal
warning of PFAS water contamination across the USA.

The most vulnerable among us, including children and people with
pre-existing health conditions or adults with autoimmune conditions are
at heightened risk of adverse health effects from aerial and truck
spraying of toxins.

Wind drift makes it difficult to control where pesticides land -- ground
spraying can drift up to 300 feet even with no wind and aerial spraying
can drift up to eight miles! Clearly, spraying has the potential for
unintended contamination of open water, gardens, and organic farms.

Holyoke is in actually in the lowest geographical risk category for both
Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus according to a CDC 2020
risk map.

We are never going to get rid of all mosquitoes, nor do we want to as
they are valuable food for other insects, birds, dragonflies, and bats. Therefore,
we urge Holyoke to avoid the possible need for mosquito-spraying late
in the summer by creating and instituting a plan for safe, effective and
ecologically-sound mosquito control measures.


More information:

Mosquito populations explode after spraying:
National Geographic article 31 May 2019: "How pesticides can actually increase mosquito numbers" by Jake Buehler https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/how-pesticides-actually-increase-mosquito-numbers#:~:text=The%20blood%20suckers%20evolve%20resistance,new%20study%20in%20Costa%20Rica.&text=Insecticides%20in%20at%20least%20one,by%20killing%20off%20their%20predators.

Fact sheet on active ingredient of state pesticide: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ncap/pages/26/attachments/original/1428423460/sumithrin.pdf?1428423460&fbclid=IwAR3mK8Pqwg342PfUSmUhX_H5Im6Lw779fO4wMc6qsI5FaueJ1bLamva55aw

Please support this proposed legislation in the 2021-2022 legislative
session:
S.556/H.937 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE PUBLIC HEALTH BY
ESTABLISHING AN ECOLOGICALLY BASED MOSQUITO MANAGEMENT PROGRAM IN THE
COMMONWEALTH. These bills replace the Commonwealth’s outdated and
expensive mosquito management system with one that is more ecologically
responsible as well as effective, affordable, and scientifically based.
For more information about the harmful nature of pesticides please see
https://www.beyondpesticides.org/resources/mosquitos-and-insect-borne-diseases/resources
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