APPENDIX II-AE: Childhood Cancer - Fitz
This article is from:
Don Fitz, Green Party of
When in elementary school, I got a snake bite kit for when we went hiking in the woods. By the time I was in high school, someone figured out that more people were dying from snake bite kits than snakes and they stopped urging kids to get them.
The West Nile Hysteria of 2002 may have been a classic case of a cure being
worse than the disease. Like bee stings, which kill about as many people,
What is truly astounding is that what was used
as the frontline “cure” for
…what goes into the new generation of sprays is not a plant derivative but a more deadly synthetic imitation called “pyrethroids.”
This misleading claim ignored the fact that many plants manufacture toxins (remember poison ivy?) and that what goes into the new generation of sprays is not a plant derivative but a more deadly synthetic imitation called “pyrethroids.” Pesticide advocates may claim that they “have not been proven to be dangerous,” aware that this is typically heard as “the chemical is safe.” In fact, it takes many decades to prove the variety of health risks associated with a chemical. We do know that the toxic mix of chemicals going into insecticide sprays exacerbate breathing disorders such as asthma.
One popular pesticide, permethrin, is a neurotoxin which is suspected of disrupting the endocrine system, interfering with sexual development, damaging the immune system, and increasing the risk of breast and lung cancers. Another favorite, sumithrin, may increase liver weight and risk of breast cancer and acute sumithrin poisoning (symptoms include hyperexcitability, prostration, slow respiration, salivation, tremor, ataxia, and paralysis).
Those advocating their use habitually fail to mention that both are accompanied by a “synergist,” which is defined by the Extension Toxicology Network (EXTOXNET) as “chemical agents used to enhance the killing power of the active ingredients.” For both permethrin and sumithrin, the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is added. According to EXTOXNET, PBO “is suspected of causing anorexia, carcinogenesis, coma, convulsions, dermal irritation, hepatic and renal damage, hyperexcitability, prenatal damage, prostration, tearing, unsteadiness, vomiting and weight loss.”
If you think that chemicals this dangerous must be doing a great job of
killing mosquitoes, think again. David Pimentel of
The hit rate may be better if the spraying occurs at a popular mosquito hangout, like a stagnant pond. But that spraying is likely to kill mosquito predators. Pyrethroids are extremely toxic to aquatic organisms, including fish, lobster and shrimp, as well as beneficial insects such as bees and butter-flies.
Spraying is particularly bad for children, those with pre-existing health conditions, and workers who are exposed to high levels of pesticides.
There is already a high incidence of many of these diseases among people of color due to the tendency to locate toxic facilities in low income neighborhoods.
Children are more susceptible to pesticides than adults because their developing organ systems can easily be damaged by toxins. Childhood cancers are linked to pesticide use. Cancers are now the second leading cause of death of children under 15.
A tragic result of the Great Skeeter Scare of 2002
may have been parents rushing to buy repellants with high concentration of
DEET. Rachel Massey notes that of “14 cases in which individuals reported
seizures associated with exposure to DEET…12 were children, 3 of whom died” (Rachel’s
Environment & Health Biweekly, No. 710,
Also vulnerable to pesticide poisoning are those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and other breathing disorders, allergies, immune system disorders and chemical sensitivity. There is already a high incidence of many of these diseases among people of color due to the tendency to locate toxic facilities in low income neighborhoods. This adds an environmental racism aspect to pesticide spraying.
High risk persons also include workers who
apply sprays or who are in areas repeatedly sprayed. Six employees of Clarke
Environmental Management signed affidavits that after spraying in
The massive spraying of 2002 seemed designed to give a sense of security that “something is being done.”
Dr. Dennis Goode, of the Biology Department at the
The massive spraying of 2002 seemed designed to give a sense of security that “something is being done.” Public health would benefit by more thought-out strategies and fewer politicians pounding their chests as aggressive mosquito attackers.
Recently, I saw a TV story of a new WNV case with a politician announcing that he would have helicopters spray massive amounts of insecticide. As he swaggered Rambo-style to shake the hand of someone with a spray-gun, I jumped up yelling, “I know that pesticide pusher! He’s the guy who used to sell snake bite kits when I was a kid.”
[21 apr 03]