Light Brown Apple Moth spraying cancelled

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bramblejungle
The male Light Brown Apple Moth (above), is an agricultural pest that has caused controversy. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bramblejungle.

BY CHRISTINA R. HERNANDEZ
EDITOR

San Francisco and other Bay Area Cities will not be sprayed with the synthetic phenomenal pesticide Checkmate LBAM-F, as was previously announced by the state agriculture department earlier this year.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced in a June 20 press release that the state will now only spray in unspecified, unpopulated forested and agricultural areas.

Beginning in 2009 the CDFA is planning to introduce sterile brown apple moths into “infested” areas. As an alternative to the spray there will also be Male Moth Attractant Sites in residential areas. The department’s web site states that these sites will be placed on utility poles at least 8 feet off the ground, “away from children and pets.”

The plan is to kill the moths and prevent surviving moths from being able to mate.

Before the spray had been sufficiently tested for its safety to humans, Santa Cruz and Monterey areas were sprayed with the pesticide in 2007. At least 643 health complaints potentially related to the spraying were filed, according to the web site StoptheSpray.com. Typical symptoms included cases of respiratory problems, vomiting, and skin rashes.

Bay Area residents began protesting the plan shortly after these complaints hinted to the possible danger of the spraying.

Dr. Ann Haiden wrote in her May 15 article titled ‘The Light Brown Apple Moth Aerial Spray Campaign: The Health Hazards of Particles, Toxins, Inflammatory Cascades and Genomic Predisposition’ that “…The spray can conceivably be expected to cause a wide variety of health problems, ranging from increased cardiorespiratory illness to hormone related illness such as breast, reproductive and thyroid illness and even cancers.”

The pesticide is released in tiny plastic capsules which break down and release the pesticide about 30 days later. The particles can be damaging because they are small enough to be inhaled deep into the lung, according to Dr. Haiden.

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