SLC mosquito abatement off over ‘negative attention and misunderstanding’

Local News

FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City. State and federal health officials are reporting a higher than usual number of deaths and illnesses from a rare, mosquito-borne virus this year. Eastern equine encephalitis has been diagnosed in a score of people in six states and several people have died so far this year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utahns want to get rid of mosquitoes but are worried about how it can be done safely.

In March, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District proposed the US Air Force assist Salt Lake City in aerial mosquito control applications. The applications would be conducted in efforts to prevent high numbers of mosquitoes from dispersing from wetland habitats and biting residents, and to prevent the transmission of pathogens to people from mosquitoes. 

Physicians from the Board of Directors of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, UPHE, spoke out sharing their concerns on how Salt Lake City plans to get rid of mosquitos this year. 

UPHE says they feel the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District, SLCMAD, strategy for mosquito control is badly outdated, scientifically flawed, and represents a chronic and recurring hazard to the health of residents in the Salt Lake Valley. 

“We are calling on them to stop pesticide spraying for mosquitoes,” as stated in a press release sent to ABC4 from UPHE. 

Ary Faraji, Ph.D., MS, BCE, Executive Director and Entomologist for Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District tells ABC4 the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District, provides mosquito surveillance and control measures for the residents of Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. 

“Our primary mission is to ensure the public health safety of all of our constituents from mosquito-borne disease and to enhance their quality of life by ensuring that nuisance mosquito populations are kept at tolerable levels,” Faraji shares. “We value every single individual within our jurisdiction and do our best to ensure that mosquitoes and the pathogens that they harbor have limited human and veterinary impact.” 

The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District was proposing to invoke the US Air Force in launching aerial spraying to help get rid of the mosquitoes.

Greg White, PhD, Assistant Director for the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District tells ABC4 the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District will no longer pursuing a partnership with the US Air Force to conduct the abatement.

“Although the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District is very confident that working with the US Air Force would benefit Salt Lake City residents and not pose a health threat to the public or to the environment, after listening to concerns from members of the public, we have decided to not pursue a partnership with the US Air Force to conduct an aerial mosquito control application with their air craft. We will continue to conduct our routine mosquito control operations, which follows EPA and CDC guidelines and regulations,” White shares with ABC4.

Faraji also confirms to ABC4 the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District will not conduct the spray anymore. “We decided it wasn’t worth all the negative attention and misunderstanding.”

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