Sunday, August 27, 2006

Emergency Mosquito spray program/ Boise, Idaho

The Ada County Mosquito Abatement plan, which includes the city of Boise instituted an emergency aerial mosquito spray program last week to try to kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. (See Ada County News Release page)

When the plan was announced some local people became concerned about the brand chemical "Dibrom Concentrate" being used. Even though county officials claim it is a "safe" chemical, convenient Google searches can find evidence that there are some concerns to be considered. Some of these were noted in the Local newspaper, The Idaho Statesman. As a precaution, people who had concerns were told they could close their windows, turn off their air conditioners, harvest the garden fruits and vegetables, and cover outdoor furniture. Organic food producing farms were excluded from the spray pattern.

New West
, a network of online communities devoted to information aout the Rocky Mountain West, published an article on 8-20-06 by Nathaniel Hoffman with more information about how the decision to spray was made. "Aerial Mosquito Spraying in Boise - Practical or Political?"

The spraying program was supposed to start about Monday August 21 at 9: PM and continue for several hours. Spraying a second night would complete the project. The problem that occurred is that the wind came up for a few nights during the week which caused a cancellation until the next night.

Regarding Social Networking: I could not find a way to find out about 9:PM whether the spraying was going to be done, or not, because of wind conditions. Ada County did not have a phone number or an updated web site entry, nor did the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. I watched some of the local TV stations and radio and did not find any information either.

On a very basic level it would have been more comfortable to be able to open the windows on these hot evenings when the spraying was cancelled. On a more comprehensive level, clearly citizens should have more information about chemicals being used in their community and the opportunity to voice their opinion regarding the use of controversial chemicals and practices. It is also important that people have access to instant information about issues that might affect their health and welfare. New Internet technology exists and citizens have a right to demand that it be used more effectively.

I decided to write my concerns to the Idaho Outdoors Yahoo Discussion Group and offered to start an offline discussion about the various issues related to how citizens find out last minute details about a local Emergency programs. A few people have responded already and I will try to write reports here on what happens in the future.

The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
has already started one listserve (wnvnospray) to discuss the issues related to this emergency spray project.

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