Alewife Study Group > government > Jan 31 2001, Health Department notice Search 

West Nile Virus and mosquito spraying
Community forum

Cambridge Public Health Dept.
806 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge Senior Center (across from City Hall)
Wed. Jan. 31 2001, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

This page updated January 27, 2001

The following information is from Sam Lipson, of the Cambridge Public Health Department, in an email sent on January 8, 2001.

"West Nile Virus Public Forum Set for Jan. 31

West Nile Virus will very likely be present in Eastern Massachusetts again this year. In preparation for this occurrence, a community forum will be held on Wednesday, January 31, from 7 p.m.-9 p.m., at the Cambridge Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Avenue. This forum will provide an opportunity for residents to share concerns about spraying pesticides and effective control of mosquitoes. The information from the forum will be used to help develop the City's plan for the 2001 season.

The City's response to West Nile Virus last summer raised many issues for residents. There were concerns about effectiveness and safety of spraying, as well as communication strategies to inform the community. We want to hear about these and other West Nile Virus issues that concern Cambridge residents."

The following information is from Cambridge Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides, excerpted from an email sent on January 8, 2001.

"Here are some notes from the meeting ... at the Cambridge Health Department on the proposed Jan. 31 meeting. ...

There will be a short overview of the issues by Harold Cox and Henrietta Davis.

Most of the time will be devoted to hearing citizens from Cambridge speak about their experiences of the spraying last summer or their views about [West Nile Virus] spraying.

There will be some wrap-up of events with a description of the process that the Health Commissioner will go through to develop the final plan. Another public meeting in late March will present a draft plan for this year's [West Nile Virus]."

The following information is from Cambridge Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides, from an email sent on January 27, 2001.

"Children are more vulnerable to pesticides than adults," said Sheldon Krimsky, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy at Tufts University in his presentation "Ten Myths About Pesticides," last year in New York. "The rapidly developing brain and nervous system of infants make them much more sensitive to neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors than adults." Last year, trucks sprayed all streets in Cambridge with a fog of neurotoxic, endocrine-disruptive pesticides in an attempt to stop the spread of West Nile Virus (WNV). Widespread street spraying of pesticides will likely occur again this year, since WNV is expected to be seen in the region as the weather warms. "Even under ideal conditions, only about 25% of the pesticide actually reaches the target organism," said David Pimentel, Professor of Insect Ecology at Cornell University. "In the case of New York's spraying," which also used street spraying as in Cambridge, "it could be less than one percent. The rest goes off into the environment where it can have a detrimental effect on public health and ecosystems." In attempt to kill the most mosquitoes, which stay largely in our backyards and parks, the city tried to leave a lingering pesticide mist in our streets, which entered numerous homes through front windows left open because of the summer heat. West Nile Virus is a cause for concern because it can cause serious illness and in some cases even death. However, the vast majority of people who become infected experience flu-like symptoms, if any at all. The first outbreak in New York caused seven deaths of elderly people, compared to the flu which caused 2200 deaths. No people in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with the illness. The current generation of pesticides is less hazardous than the previous ones, which had also been approved as "safe for use" before being banned, but they have not yet been studied as intensively. In Stamford, Conn., four dozen Medical Doctors signed a statement calling for "an immediate halt to any further widespread spraying of pesticides to handle the concern of WNV." They "believe that the current spraying of pesticides poses a significant health hazard to humans." The City of Cambridge is currently considering how it will address the concerns over WNV. The Cambridge Public Health Dept. is holding a forum to discuss the city plans for WNV and to listen to residents' concerns about spraying pesticides and effective control of mosquitoes. Methods other than widespread spraying have been shown to be more effective and less hazardous. The Cambridge Senior Center is in Central Square, across from City Hall on Mass. Ave. For more information about concerns over pesticide spraying, call Craig Kelley at 354-8353. For more information & research

Cambridge Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides (
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