Public Health Alerts County
West Nile Virus
Open Letter to Maricopa County Doctors
We have a crisis situation in Maricopa County,
Arizona, and once you are presented with scientific facts, you will
understand why your help is needed to convince the county officials
that the mosquitoes are not in danger, it is the public. Everyone
must realize that chemicals damage the immune, CNS, endocrine and
reproductive systems of humans and animals. The pyrethrins and synthetic
pyrethroids are no exception.
County officials are purported to plan to
continue to inundate us with massive toxic pyrethroid chemicals. Forget the unnecessary
expenditure of millions of dollars. Forget the potential for law suits
for breaking the Clean Water (and Air?) Acts as they presently have
in NYC. They are upset in New York because many were harmed by the
use of toxic sprays prior to 9/11 and also recently. Forget the fact
uninformed individuals have repeatedly assured the county that Anvil
is as safe as table salt and that weak concentrations of toxic sprays
cannot be harmful. Studies indicate these statements are grossly misleading,
erroneous, inaccurate, and potentially very harmful. Anvil (Kontrol)
is not simply a mix of crushed chrysanthemums. It has been extensively
chemically altered in preparation so it is more toxic and longer
lasting. (Summer 2002, J. of Pesticides) The pyrethroids disrupt the permeability of the nerve membranes.
They can inhibit calcium uptake in rat brain cells affecting neurotransmission.
What about humans? There is
very little data on inhalation toxicology or on the degradation products
or the metabolites of some of the pyrethrins or synthetic pyrethroids.
The following is what is important now.
Facts: How Dangerous Is The Infected Mosquito?
We do not have an epidemic. Three deaths per 6 million people is not a reason
to pollute the air, water, food, wildlife and inhabitants of the Phoenix
How Safe Is The Spray?
The reports vary as to how long the spray
lasts. Some say 2 hours in sunlight.
Germans report 60 hours and some say it can take a month or
more for the chemical to fully dissipate. Other articles say it can
last up to 3 months. (“Insecticides in ambient air following application of control
for pests”. Env. Contam. Toxic. 26:548-553,l981). The pyrethroid chemicals do bioaccumulate.
We have dust storms that can stir up the
chemicals in the saturated soil.
Swamp coolers and leaky roof air conditioners can bring the
chemicals into a home. The chemicals can collect in carpets for about
10 weeks putting children and pets in special jeopardy. (J. of High Resolution Chromatography,
l997, Vol20 pg 284) In one study in half the homes studied they
found over 60% had permethrin and piperonyl butoxide, as well as other
toxic chemicals in the house dust and air. (Environmental
Science and Technology 9/2003). What will the indoor levels be
after the massive nightly county spraying in this area? Physicians
should be recommending air purifiers, such as the Austin, to help
remove chemicals as well as dust, molds and pollen and turning off
swamp coolers and leaky rooftop air conditioners.
Maricopa County is in a lovely valley that
is not similar to windy Chicago. The sprays used nightly can build
up and may not be blown away. The pyrethroid spray is 96% inerts,
which are reported to contain naptha, propane, isobutene, hydrotreated
kerosene, silica, trimethyl benzene and ethyl benzene. In addition,
hazardous contaminants in some pyrethroid formulations include ethylene
oxide, arsenic and benzene (a common cause of childhood leukemia).
(Insecticide Fact Sheet- Pyrethrins/Pyrethrums, National Coalition
of Alternative to Pesticides, Spring, Vol. 22. #1, 2002, 541 344 5044
and The Toxicology and Environmental Fate of Synthetic Pyrethroids,
J. of Pesticide Reform, Vol. 10, # 3, l990- 415-541-9140). They can certainly adversely affect the health of the inhabitants
of this area acutely and chronically. (See Our Toxic World, A Wake Up Call, by
Doris J. Rapp, M.D., Chapter 8 To obtain the book call 1 800 787 8780
for a 20% discount or call Amazon). To find out more about safer better
ways to control a mosquito or West Nile viral problem see www.drrapp.com.)
Who Can Be Affected?
The subset of the population that is most
apt to be affected by either the West Nile virus or the spray are
the unborn, the very young, the elderly and those who have a depressed
immune system. This includes those who have allergies, autoimmune
diseases or those who have had chemotherapy for cancer.
The spray, however, can cause those who
have never had sensitivity to chemicals to develop this problem. You
will see patients who suddenly complain that chemicals that never
bothered them before are now developing symptoms from a whiff of perfume,
lawn spray or putting gas in the car. They will begin to smell chemicals
what others do not notice. They also may complain they have suddenly
developed allergies that were never present before. You will also
see other patients who already have chemical sensitivities because
they will relapse and suddenly become immensely ill. Some will die.
These are the ones who say they collapse when they go outside if the
air is polluted with chemicals. These are the ones who leave the city
and come back and are desperately ill in minutes, outside and inside
their homes. (Read book by Ashford and Miller- entitled Chemical Exposures,
Low Levels and High Stakes.)
The Acute Signs and Symptoms
The effects of the spray can be acute and
easily confused with other illnesses. We will know the facts only
if the records of school health officials and emergency rooms are
scrutinized. Look for headaches, weakness, lack of energy, nausea,
dizziness, swollen red eyes, a stuffy nose, chest congestion, salivation
and rashes Of course these symptoms are non-specific and easily confused
with many other illnesses but be suspicious if they become evident
or worse in the morning after spraying. Watch for numbness or burning
of the skin, burning of the throat, unexplained tender skin spots,
sudden nosebleeds, twitches, seizures or swollen glands. Some can
have an immediate asthma attack. Infants, in particular, will be prone
to this. (Environmental Health Perspectives, on line 12/9/03.) Some will develop
an arrhythmia, others a heart attack. Some will have an increased
sensitivity to sound and touch, in particular strange facial sensations.
Some will have, urgency to void or unusual behavior or activity. Some
might develop anemia as evidenced in laboratory animals. Pyrethroids
raise the blood sugar levels in gerbils. What about humans? We donâ€™t
know. Would you suspect a chemical was the cause if you noted these
symptoms in patients in the next few weeks?
Blood, urine and saliva pyrethroid tests
are available. Until you can get a kit, collect urine in a clean glass
bottle and refrigerate it. Call Accuchem or Immunoscience Lab.
Some the above symptoms will last only a few days; for others
it can be just the beginning of the illness called a chemical sensitivity,
which can last for a lifetime.
Am I exaggerating? No. One woman died after
using a pyrethroid flea shampoo on her dog. (Clinical Toxicology 32(4) pg 457, l994.) Some can expire quickly if they have a chemical sensitivity.
Cindy Dheuring died suddenly when they did not warn her, as they were
supposed to, and sprayed too close to her home.
The good news is that in mammals, the acute
signs of toxicity are usually temporary and diminish.
Potential and Definite Chronic Heath Effects
Common unsuspected effects could include
loss of memory. If the behavioral, or memory changes are severe, or
prolonged, SPECT or other brain imaging might help make a definitive
diagnosis. (Read articles by Gunnar Heuser, MD, PhD and Theodore Simon,
Women exposed to organic solvents have a
13 fold increased chance of having a child with birth defects and
developmental delay. (JAMA 1999) Solvents make up a large part of
Anvil or Kontol. How many of the “inerts” in this spray will pass
into the placenta and breast milk? Studies have shown exposed cows
have pyrethroids in their milk. Low- level chemical exposures are
thought to affect one in six children in the USA.
(E Magazine, article entitled “Widespread Chemical Exposure
Threatens Our Most Vulnerable Population” by Jennifer Bogo.) Will mothers or their doctors recognize that the spraying going
on in 2004 caused these types of problems a few years from now?
Pyrethrins are considered by the EPA to
be “likely human carcinogens”. Farmers who use pyrethrins have a 3.7
fold increased risk of leukemia.
If the pesticide sprayers in Maricopa County develop cancer
in a few years, who will suspect it was the spray?
What about the children? Under the age of
5 years, there has been a 53% increase in brain cancer, and an 18%
increase in leukemia. Other reports state there is a 25% increase
in the past 25 years of brain tumors in children. (The Politics of Cancer Revisited
by Dr. Samuel Epstein.)
Simply using garden pesticides can
increase by six fold the chances of a child developing leukemia. Flea
preparations can increase the chances of a brain cancer in children
by 2 to 4 fold. (National Cancer Institute 1987)
Can we really afford to wait and see what the pyrethroid spray
does to the children in the Phoenix community?
Some will have a decreased sperm count.
Will infertile couples consider this when they cannot conceive during
the next few months or years? In
NYC some of the pesticide applicators are complaining of impotence.
Chemicals have definitely caused penises to be deformed and other
sexual problems in animals and man. (Chapter 5 of my book, Our
Toxic World-1 800 787 8780). It is known that pyrethroids alter
the normal functioning of sex hormones. One report tells of the estrogenic potential
of pyrethroid compounds in human breast carcinoma cell lines.
(Env. Health Perspectives, Vol. 107, #3, March 1999)
One report states miscarriages and preterm babies can be caused
by pyrethroid-like compounds. Liver tumors are more evident in exposed
female rats and kidney disease such as degenerated tubules are also
reported. (see Fact Sheet on pyrethrums for specific references)
They also cause thyroid tumors in
animals. Exposed mice have more lung cancer and parathyroid tumors.
Will you wonder about the 2004 spray exposures when you see patients
with these problems in the next few years?
You might want to do chemical blood/urine
studies on all ADHD, developmentally delayed children, cancer, and
sex related problem patients. (See Chapter 13 of
Is This Your Childs World? by Doris J. Rapp,
M.D., for diagnostic tests to detect chemicals. 1 800 787 8780)
What about Your Pets and Wildlife?
Cats are particularly sensitive to pyrethrins
because of detoxification weaknesses. If exposed they can salivate
more, act depressed, have a change in behavior, anorexia and high
temperatures. Dogs have developed atrophied testicles.
Fish and bees are exceedingly sensitive.
(The ants in my front lawn were dead the morning after the spray was
used in my area.)
Are Officials Advising
Use of DEET?
To complicate the issue some Maricopa decision
makers are pushing the use of DEET preparations by adults and children
to prevent mosquito bites. Most doctors are aware the 30% DEET has
led to deaths in children. Less well know is the fact it is absorbed
more readily on sunburned or broken skin.
We must ask if lower concentrations really are that safe for
children. In addition, Dr. Abou- Donia at Duke University has published
a series of articles specifically demonstrating that synergistic effects
of combined chemicals and his example is DEET and the pyrethroids
compounds! (J of Toxicology
and Environmental Health and Experimental Neurology 2001 and see other
scientific references on pg 20 of Pesticides and You, winter 2003
and 4, Vol. 22 # 3.) Increased blood brain barrier permeability
actually can lead to cell death of brain mitochondria in rats and
the blood testis barrier is also affected. Safer more effective topical preparations
I sincerely hope you will consider the above
facts and help to increase the Maricopa County legislatorâ€™s awareness
of the many dangers of the nightly spray they are presently using
on 36,000 acres. We should be protecting our children and ourselves
from these toxins. Safer, less expensive and more effective methods
forms of mosquito control are certainly available. *
Doris J. Rapp is a retired M.D., board-
certified in pediatrics, allergy and environmental medicine.
*In relation to some treatment options that
appear to help, refer to
under “Are You Sick from the West Nile Virus or
Chemical Sprays?” or in Chapter 8 of Our Toxic World, A Wake Up Call, 800.787.8780) or see
Chemicals and Pregnancy and
“Why and How to Protect Your Home and Town.”
Doris J. Rapp, M.D. Board Certified in:
Pediatrics, Allergy and Environmental Medicine
Former Clinical Assistant Prof. Pediatrics at SUNY at Buffalo
August 24, 2004
West Nile Virus