In 1962 Rachel Carson published "Silent Spring," one of the most important documents of this century. Several years later, Patrick G. Lucey became Amherst highway superintendent and took over the town's mosquito-control program. Carson died in 1964 from breast cancer. Lucey is still in charge. Sometimes change can be slow.
In her book, Carson wrote extensively about organic phosphate pesticides (including malathion) and their detrimental effects on man and his environment. Lucey is still spraying vast areas of Amherst with malathion.
Carson describes malathion as being considered "safe" only because of one specific enzyme produced by the liver. In her words, "If, however, something destroys his enzyme or interferes with its action, the person exposed to malathion receives the full force of its poison." One has to wonder what the effect on infants and unborn children whose livers are not fully developed would be.
Also, Carson wrote that "when malathion and certain other organic phosphates are administered simultaneously, a massive poisoning results -- up to 50 times as severe." This "potentation" stays in effect for weeks or longer. For instance, if one were to eat a salad with pesticide residue then go outside when they are spraying, the effect to the system could be multiplied by 50. Immediate effects of insecticides include loss of memory, paralysis, insanity, convulsions and sometimes death. Long-term effects include arthritis, cancer, birth defects and sexual disfunctions in future generations.
When Lucey says, "I sympathize with the people with chemical sensitivities and allergies," he proves his ignorance. We're fighting for our survival.
Spraying large areas with a biocide like malathion doesn't just kill mosquitoes, it kills all the insects, including the natural enemies of mosquitoes (dragonflies, spiders, etc.). Sometimes in a predator-free environment, the mosquito population explodes. In other words, spraying may even make the problem worse, not to mention the harm it does to the natural wildlife like frogs, squirrels, birds, etc.
We live in a very small world; we cannot poison it for minor inconveniences.
WILLIAM D. O'CONNOR