Hey, they are BAAACK! Who? What? It’s Mass Mosquito Control and they want to spray Harvard with the chemical pesticide Sumithrin to kill mosquitos.
I very recently received a phone call from a Boston Globe West reporter inquiring my views about reopening Harvard to mosquito control spraying. We permitted chemical spraying years ago but terminated in a 1989 Town Meeting vote — over 90 percent of our voters saying no. My vote was no then. It’s no today.
Mass Mosquito Control and their advocates say the issue is public health. It is? That is not what the data shows for Harvard. The discussions focused on are the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus. (WNV). Well, state-wide EEE and WNV cases reported in the past decade have been minimal, with six deaths identified. No cases reported in Harvard as I recall. None in towns surrounding Harvard. Have you heard of any? If there is an EEE or WNV, and I doubt one exists, it is in the state’s southeast and northeast coastal and wetland areas.
What is Sumithrin, or what are we told of its positive and negative attributes. Obviously, it is tough on mosquitos. It is, we are told, a chemical pesticide “that does not pose unreasonable risk to human health when applied according to the label .” On the other hand some knowledgeable sources say there is concern regarding adverse affects on people with asthma or Parkinson Disease. Sumithrin, advocates say, if safe for mammals and birds, if applied in small increments but considered dangerous to bees and fish.
Oh, dangerous to just bees and fish. Bees. Nature’s most successful and beneficial pollinators and oh so valuable for a plentiful and healthful food supply. Do we want to use Sumithrin when bee colonies are collapsing at such an alarming rate? Farmers and orchardists must be ecstatic over the use of Sumithrin.
Fish. Another resource that is under stress. We are constantly advised to limit consumption of fresh water fish due to contamination from mercury and other chemicals.
Fats and common sense tell us that mosquitoes, EEE and WNV pose a problem in the Commonwealth, but it is not a serious problem in Harvard and environs. Mush more serious, the use of Sumithrin, not mosquitoes per se, could and more likely would pose a serious future health problem for us, our friends, our children, our grandchildren. Do we know the long-term health affects of Sumithrin, or the comulative impact with other chemical pollutants? No! Until we do, the Mass. Department of Public Health should target the sections of the state where EEE and WNV are a serious problem and not communities such as Harvard.
I read that one of our Board of Health members wants a fresh look at insect control. That’s OK. All issues need a fresh look from time to time. Just do a complete job. What will an insect control program do — good or bad, short and long-term. The Carlisle Board of Health considered a mosquito spray program last winter, but so many problems and questions surfaced they did not take it to town meeting. Good common sense.
Harvard should follow the path of the intelligent people of Carlisle.