October 12th, 2003
To the Editor,
The Sun’s article of 10/12/03 (City eyes weed, bug-killer curbs – Only professional use if bylaw flies by R. Romanluk) discusses placing restrictions of the uses of pesticides by lay persons, leaving them to the “professionals”. While limiting the opportunities for people to be harmed by these poisons is laudable, there are two basic points not being addressed by your story.
1. In the USA, only 40 hours of instruction are required by applicators, prior to receiving their “license to kill”. Most are lacking the same information about the products as lay persons, since industry is not required to publish the ingredients present in the marketed formulations. Safety data refers to only active ingredients, often comprising less than 10% of the product. Not educated in toxicology, they don’t know the toxic by-products left by the pesticides as they breaks down after application. They don’t know how long it remains airborne and the temperatures or other conditions that cause residues to recirculate as gasses again, post-application. Applicators are just technicians (or technician’s assistants) who apply poisons according to label directions. The proper selection and avoidance of particular chemicals takes far more education and training than they receive.
2. There only safe way to apply a pesticide is to use a formulation that will NOT enter the bodies of bystanders. No spray formulation meets that criteria since sprays can remain airborne for weeks and contaminate furnishings, foods, clothing on a long term basis. Studies have shown that the vast majority of US citizens (adults and children), are excreting metabolites of insecticidal products taken in via inhalation, skin contact and ingestion. Product labels routinely say to avoid such contacts with these poisons due to the likelihood of adverse reactions.
Any poison which will trespass into the human body so casually has no place in urban environments. Applicator licensure merely offers a false sense of security to our poorly informed populace. A ban on such products is the only solution which will force manufacturers, long in possession of the facts, to market safe preparations such as baits and GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) products in homes, offices, schools, hospitals etc. Only a ban will spur applicators, fond of the profitable “spray and run” mode enabling them to serve more clients in a day, to raise prices for their increased labor in the use of truly safe methods.
Categories: Winnipeg Sun