“An unacceptable risk” – Mosquito pesticide spraying in Utah

We’ve been talking about the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District’s (SLCMAD) use of pesticides for years. Recently, we had an intern start looking into pesticide use across the entire state. 

He wrote an excellent op-ed reflecting on the experience and the alarming amount of pesticide use. In his op-ed, Jack Bozarth describes the lack of transparency he faced attempting to get information, the massive scale on which pesticides are being sprayed, the amount of money spent poisoning the public, the poor science behind the use of pesticides, and ultimately the lack of oversight by experts.

“Simply accessing the basic public information surrounding the activities of the districts was difficult. Only a handful of the 19 districts in the state list the pesticides they use online, and none acknowledges their health risks. Utah touts the transparency of its government agencies, but the most basic information on these districts’ activities required weeks of phone calls and information requests.

Nonetheless, I learned the scale of pesticide use in Utah is shocking. In Davis County alone, with a population of over 350,000, the mosquito abatement district sprays by airplane nearly half a gallon of toxic pesticides for every man, woman and child in the county every year.”

Despite evidence that mosquito levels persist after some pesticide treatments, and the knowledge that higher quantities are required over time to have any effect, these districts continue to spray chemicals on a massive scale and without oversight from any experts on the consequences to human health. 

“Perhaps most disturbing is that exposure to either organophosphates or pyrethroids at critical developmental windows in utero or early infancy can reduce intellect, learning ability and precipitate behavioral disorders.

Pesticide exposure is at the top of the list of environmental triggers of autism. As of 2021, Utah has the second highest rate of autism in the United States. There is overwhelming evidence that these chemicals cause widespread damage to human health. Naled, a pesticide spread in Salt Lake, Davis, and Cache counties by airplane throughout the summer, has been banned in the European Union since 2012. Officials stated it presented “an unacceptable risk” to human health” Jack wrote for the Tribune.

We urge you to look into, write and call your local Mosquito Abatement District and express your concerns over pesticide use and its effect on human health.

The DAQ is currently accepting ideas from the public on ways to reduce ozone. Stopping pesticide spraying (which releases VOC’s causing ozone) is a great one. 

Read Jack’s full op-ed here.