Today’s news:

Pesticides pose a danger to people

A notice was e-mailed to me from the city Department of Health regarding the pesticide spraying to kill mosquitoes in an effort to stop the spread of the West Nile virus. Unfortunately, the notice had an error in terms of the location of the spraying.

It described Bell Boulevard as being the eastern boundary of the spraying area when in fact it was the western boundary. A friend also noticed that the community identified as the target for the spraying was Oakland Gardens when the ZIP codes mentioned were also Bayside ZIP codes. I believe this e-mail was sent to hundreds of people in the area.

We are advised to take proper precautions in these e-mails to make sure we close our windows and take in pets and children’s toys before the spray trucks come around at night. Many people may have been misled by the error in the e-mail and ignored the advice to take precautions. With so many people these days suffering from respiratory issues, including asthma and allergies, this could be problematic.

I sent an e-mail back advising the department of the error. The response from its spokeswoman was that she was not familiar with the streets in my area and recommended I check the map attached to the notice. The map clearly identified and showed Bell Boulevard as the western boundary. Why didn’t the spokeswoman look at her own department’s map? How many people were misguided by this faulty e-mail? Not reassuring at all.

Spraying pesticides is serious business. The department’s efforts to notify affected communities is inadequate at best. Why doesn’t this agency post notices on utility poles in areas to be sprayed — just like when road work or tree care is about to be done? Why can’t this agency traverse neighborhoods about to be sprayed with a loudspeaker system warning residents?

Another problem I have is the use of herbicides to control overgrowth along roadsides. Recently, it appears an herbicide was used along the Clearview Expressway southbound service road in the 43rd Avenue area to eradicate English ivy growing along the railing. Now that ivy is dead and looks terrible. Herbicide spraying also poses health and environmental problems. Why can’t this overgrowth simply be trimmed and taken away? Why do we have to be exposed to these poisons?

The makers of these poisons are wealthy and powerful chemical companies. Commercials on television produced by these companies show people spraying every nook and cranny trying to eliminate a few weeds growing in the crack of a sidewalk or spraying to kill a few bugs. They are so over-the-top and give the impression that spraying poison is as normal as watering your garden.

Everyone is aware of the cancer epidemic. Most pesticides and herbicides contain known carcinogens. The use of these chemicals should be handled with the utmost care and concern for people’s health and well-being. The mindset of the city agencies using these poisons as well as private citizens and businesses should be geared toward using alternative, organic and safer substances and strategies for controlling pests and unwanted vegetation.

Henry Euler


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