[ Ed. note – I guess the US Air Force is reliving its glory days when it rained Agent Orange down on the jungles of Vietnam. The Pentagon has embarked upon an ambitious project to spray approximately 6 million acres of the state of Texas in an effort at controlling the mosquito population in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The pesticide being used is Dibrom, whose key ingredient is a toxic chemical known as Naled. Its effects upon humans are described in the article below, the writer of which suggests that concerns for human health may have taken a backseat to boosting profits for the agro-chemical industry. (Of course nothing like that ever happens in America.) He also points out that while the chemical has been approved by the EPA, it has been banned in Europe.
The military tanker jets arrived in Harris County, Texas on Thursday night. According to an article here, locals have expressed concerns about the spraying, but state health department officials are issuing the usual don’t-worry-everything-is-fine statements on the matter. The article specifically alerts readers that the pesticide has been EPA-approved, but makes no mention of the chemical’s being banned in Europe.
Nonetheless, not everyone seems to be convinced.
“I think that’s going to be hazardous, harmful,” said one local resident. “Of course they’re doing it to kill mosquitoes but hazardous and harmful, that’s how I feel about it.”
The writer of the article, to his credit, seems to have resisted the temptation to label the person a conspiracy theorist.
But of course basically what it comes down to is that the people of Texas have no say in this potentially hazardous matter. None. The decision has been made for them. About all they can do if they don’t like it is pack up and leave their homes until the spraying is over, though no one seems to know when exactly that will be. ]
US Gov’t Pesticide Spraying in Wake of Harvey A Toxic Boon to Agrochemical Giants
By Whitney Webb
Amid statewide efforts to clean up the aftermath left by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Pentagon announced last week that it had dispatched C-130H Sprayers from the Air Force Reserve’s 910th Airlift Wing in order to “assist with recovery efforts in eastern Texas.” However, these “recovery efforts” have little to do with rebuilding damaged structures or with the resettlement of evacuees. Instead, they are set to spray chemicals in order to help “control pest insect populations,” which they allege pose a “health risk to rescue workers and residents of Houston.”
The Pentagon has requested that the planes treat more than 6 million acres throughout the Houston area. The Air Force notes that the current effort is “expected to significantly surpass previous [spraying] missions in scope,” specifically the spraying campaigns that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Naled’s toxicity not confined to mosquitoes
While the Pentagon has framed its efforts to “assist” as seeking to eliminate a potential human health risk, the particular chemical it is using to control insect populations is likely to do more harm than good. According to the Air Force, the mosquito control protocol involves spraying the “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and regulated material, Naled,” which the Air Force insists will not be used in amounts large enough to “cause any concern for human health.”
Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans, as it inhibits acetylcholinesterase — an enzyme essential to nerve function and communication — and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence, including a recent Harvard study, has also pointed to Naled’s responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees. Just one day of Naled spraying in South Carolina killed more than 2.5 million bees last year.
Yet, the most concerning consequence Naled poses for human health is the chemical’s ability to cross the placental barrier — meaning that Naled freely crosses from mother to fetus. A study conducted at the University of Oslo found that Naled’s breakdown product, dichlorvos, caused a 15% decrease in the brain size of newborn guinea pigs when their mothers were exposed to Naled for only three days during pregnancy. Doctors from Puerto Rico have also claimed that Naled harms fetuses.
Studies in the US have also shown that pregnant women exposed to Naled had a 60% higher chance of having a child with an autism-spectrum disorder.
This is especially troubling given that the manufacturer of Naled, Sumimoto Chemical Corp., is also the manufacturer of the mosquito larvicide SumiLarv, a chemical now believed to have been the real culprit behind the spike in birth defects in Brazil originally attributed to the Zika virus.
At the height of the Zika scare, a group of Argentine doctors, Médicos de Pueblos Fumigados, published a report citing a pesticide used to kill mosquito larva as the real cause of the birth defects. According to the report, the area where most of the affected Brazilian families live, Pernambuco, had its drinking water treated for 18 months with a chemical larvicide that produces fatal birth defects in mosquitoes.