Pesticide spraying is an outdated practice, yet property taxes in Utah may be raised to do more of it


(AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District (SLCMAD) intends to raise property taxes to fund an increase effort in mosquito pesticide spraying.

According to Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, an organization consisting of approximately 400 Utah medical professionals, health and environmental experts believe the practice of aerial pesticide sprays should be stopped altogether. This method of controlling mosquito populations is seen as outdated and hazardous for the environment and the people living there.

Dr. Brian Moench, board chairman of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment had this to say on the issue:

“It makes no sense to expose hundreds of thousands of people to neurotoxic chemicals in a vain attempt to prevent a different neurotoxic disease (West Nile Virus) in a few dozen people. For SLCMAD to now raise property taxes to conduct even more spraying is making bad public policy even worse.”

Here are some reasons that health professionals are upset about the practice:

  1. Pesticide spraying, even in small amounts, can affect brain development in infants. Even low dose exposure is associated with higher rates of autism and loss of intellect. Utah has one of the highest rates of autism in the country.
  2. Decisions about exposing the public to these chemicals should be made by people with expertise in public health, toxicology, and environmental toxins. The group believes the public should not be involuntarily exposed to these toxins.
  3. Aerial pesticide spraying over 170,000 acres, which is currently happening, contributes to air pollution.
  4. Mosquitoes are becoming resistant to pesticides, forcing the need for chemical sprays to evolve and become potentially more dangerous than they already are. Pesticides do not reduce the incidence of the West Nile Virus, which is no longer the widespread public health hazard that it once was.
  5. According to the UPHE, citing safety as a reason for pesticide spraying relies on faulty science, and ignores the majority of relevant medical studies.

Dr. Courtney Henley, a member of the board of UPHE, mentions that the knowledge of the dangers of widespread pesticide spraying has been around for a long time. She emphasizes the irresponsibility of those still practicing these sprays, stating, “It’s been 60 years since Rachael Carson published Silent Spring and still government agencies in Utah are putting deadly chemicals in our environment with little to no thought about the cumulative negative impact of these chemicals on our communities or the poor efficacy of the practice.”

The board of SLCMAD will be holding a public hearing on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. to vote on raising taxes for increased mosquito pesticide spraying and public comments will be taking place at 6 p.m.

Click here for more details about the meeting and here to register for the webinar.

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