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Physicians for a Healthy Environment call for end to pesticide spraying

File photo: Mosquito
Posted at 11:36 AM, Oct 19, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Calling the spraying of mosquito pesticides "a profound failure of public policy," Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE)  and national experts are calling on the Salt Lake City Council to adopt a moratorium on the practice. 

“It makes no sense to expose hundreds of thousands of people to neurotoxic chemicals in a vain attempt to prevent a different neurotoxic disease in a few dozen people,” said Dr. Brian Moench, board chairman of UPHE.

UPHE claims that pesticide spraying is a relic of the 1950s and a public health hazard, causing damage to the brain development of infants and the unborn, even in small amounts, as well as a link to the high rates of autism in Utah.

They also claim that decisions regarding pesticide spraying should be made by public health and toxicology experts, not members of the council, who lack this expertise.

However, a SLC City Council spokesperson tells FOX 13 that the council does not have the authority to adopt a moratorium on the practice, and they do not make policy or budget determinations for the city's local Mosquito Abatement District. They say federal and state agencies are the ones who make those decisions and regulations.

Also a concern is the contribution of pesticide spraying to Utah's air pollution problems, alleges UPHE, as spraying from airplanes now covers 170,000 acres in Salt Lake County.

UPHE also states that mosquitoes are becoming resistant to pesticides and do nothing to reduce the incidence of West Nile Virus, which is no longer considered a public health hazard regardless.

UPHE was formed in 2007 during one of Utah's worst inversions, and is comprised of 400 medical professionals within Utah as well as 4,000 supporting members of the public.