Open Letter to Mayor Giuliani

July 27th, 2000

Dear Mr. Mayor,

I left the boundaries of New York City in December last year to move to Nassau County where I believe they make more responsible judgments with regard to public health issues. I had lived in NYC for 43 of my 44 years on this planet but realized I could not be safe under your jurisdiction. Nassau county residents received due notice of sprayings which were always cancelled for inclement weather such as high winds. We in New York City did not receive these “courtesies”. Nassau County was treated with Anvil, a toxic pyrethroid but one with significantly less PBO content. We in NYC were subjected to combinations of organophosphates (Malathion) and Resmethrin, both highly toxic by most reasonable definitions of the term, particularly for women and children. Nassau County’s website and health department does not lie to its residents about the potential for harm from contact with pesticides. You withhold information about the chemicals and tell lies about how safe they are requiring intervention by the Attorney General’s office.

The NYC Department of Health stands by, apparently unwilling or unable to refute your inaccuracies, and fails to investigate pesticide related illnesses in any meaningful, systematic way. You encourage people to treat pesticides lightly instead of with the respect that any REGISTERED POISON must receive, by telling them no harm will come to them if they come in contact with it. You do not actually know that being sprayed with Malathion did not harm you. Yet you ridicule those of us who have been frankly harmed by such products and do know it.

You cannot have it both ways Mr. Giuliani. You do not take responsibility for the (literally) uncounted numbers of pesticide-related illnesses but tell those of us who protest the use of pesticides that we are then responsible for WNV victims. If you truly feel that WNV is such a priority than it follows that you must take responsibility for any harm caused by the toxic “solution” to your priority problem. I am understanding of the dilemma but either course is littered with dangers that MUST be acknowledged.

All doubts and controversy can easily be removed by studying NYC as it becomes the world’s largest living laboratory. Have reputable scientists take samples from soil, concrete, plastic and metal to measure the actual persistence of the whole product in our environment (not just that of the active ingredient under laboratory conditions). Then we will know the proper timing for re-entry into treated zones. Air samples will tell us when to leave the protection of our homes after fogging.

Let people know that they should take their shoes off at the door so as not to track pesticide into their carpets where crawling children and pets can ingest it. Water samples will tell us why fish die during and after the periods of spraying. Order NYS to issue permits to laboratories which conduct tests of blood, urine and fat tissue in humans for residues of both active and inert ingredients of pesticides. Educate all doctors in how to recognize and manage such symptoms. (Did you know that no labs in NYS have such permits? Excessive permit fees and voluminous paper work have caused all such labs to refuse NYS patients these services. We have to go to NJ or CT for such tests). Monitor statistics for increases in asthma, GI tract and neurological problems during such periods.

Lastly Mr. Mayor, birds fly over MUCH larger ranges than mosquitos and are unlikely to have been infected in the same area in which they die. You may wish to spray in areas where no confirmed reports of infected mosquitos are present but cannot fault other townships for following more scientific principles. Opinion and fact are not always congruent. And we have precious few facts in this situation due to an apparent lack of interest in resolving questions of pesticide safety (an oxymoron). Apparently, the EPA has questions since they plan to re-examine the toxicity of pyrethroids in 2002. Just because a chemical is registered does not mean better solutions are unavailable. Neither does registration constitute endorsement.

My family have been life-long NYC residents. Too bad it is unsafe for me, a chemically sensitive person, to continue the tradition.

Barbara Rubin
East Rockaway, NY


In response to my letter to Mayor Giuiliant, I received the following reply. Below that, you will see my response.

From: MAILSRV@CITYHALL.CI.NYC.NY.US Date: Fri, Jul 28, 2000, 12:18pm
Subject: Health – Complaint

Dear Ms. Rubin:

I write on behalf of Mayor Giuliani in response to your recent E-mail regarding pesticides and the West Nile Virus. Thank you for sharing your views and suggestions with us on this important subject. For facts about the West Nile Virus, please visit the Department of Health website.

Thank you for using NYC.GOV.

Carmela Piazza
Assistant to the Mayor

Dear Ms. Piazza,

I wrote to the Mayor specifically because the health department website to which you refer, is singularly lacking in facts. That is what I was complaining about. For facts, I will go to the Nassau County Health department website and to the CDC. For fiction, I will use your reference.

Barbara Rubin

Categories: Letters

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