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Mosquito Fogging – What You Need to Know

This post was first published almost  two years ago, but I’m reposting  it now as it is that time of year again when you should be aware of these kinds of issues.

I recently had an interaction with Vector control that compelled me to write a post about mosquito fogging. I live in the high desert in Southern California and we don’t have any mosquito fogging in my city because we rarely get any mosquitoes, which is one of the main reasons I live here. I can’t and won’t be exposed to toxic pesticides. However, I must do my grocery shopping in the Palm Springs area, and because they have so many golf courses, and try to make grass grow in a climate where it isn’t supposed to grow, the entire city uses sprinkling systems on their lawns consistently, which results in more humidity and dampness and thus mosquitoes.

A friend had called me up and heard they were fogging in the Palm Springs area for several days and I was a planning trip down the next day. So I did a Google search and found the website for Vector control and they had an informative site that gave details on where they would be fogging and even had a map. It was only a small area that would be affected and it wasn’t anywhere in the area where I was going. However, I wanted to be sure that the website was up to date and verify for sure that there wouldn’t be other areas involved as well, so I called them up.

I explained to the person in charge that I had chemical sensitivities and could not be anywhere near pesticides and that I wanted to verify the area they would be fogging. He was polite and willing to be helpful, however after he answered my questions, he proceeded to tell me that permethrins, which is the pesticide they would be using, was a natural botanical and that it was completely safe and that it completely breaks down in 15 minutes. I gave up long ago trying to convince people in public health and safety that pesticides are not safe and non-toxic, so I didn’t bother arguing with him, as it is usually useless. I told him that I was quite aware of what permethrins were and that I could not be anywhere around them, thanked him for his help and hung up.

However, a few minutes later, the more I thought about it, I began to feel outraged that people in the health and public safety field are spreading information around that is not only inaccurate, but dangerous. They are supposed to be protecting our health, but that is not the case.

First of all, pyrethrum or pyrethrins is the natural botanical form, but that is not the form that Vector control and most cities use for fogging. They use a synthetic chemical that is “similar” to the botanical form and it is called pyrethroids or permethrins. It is used widely not only in mosquito abatement, but it is also found in pesticides for fleas, lice, tics, mites like scabies, ants and termites and is widely used in agriculture on cotton, wheat, corn, etc.

Pyrethroids or permethrins are a powerful neurotoxin and are listed even by the EPA , who is extremely reluctant to acknowledge toxicity of any chemical, as “likely” carcinogenic. In rats it causes hyperactivity, tremors, salivation, hyperexcitability, urination, defecation and incoordination and liver damage. Baby rats are much more susceptible than adult rats and exhibit more severe symptoms. Other animals exposed may experience numbness of the lip and tongue, diarrhea, nausea, convulsions, aggression, seizures. paralysis, respiratory failure and death.

It also kills indiscriminately, meaning in addition to the bug you’re trying to get rid of, it also kills a variety of beneficial insets, including bees, aquatic life and small mammals like mice. It is highly toxic to cats, honey bees and other beneficial insects and is considered mildly toxic to birds like mallards.

Common reactions in the human population include itching, burning and prickling sensations of the skin, headaches, convulsions, tremors, facial flushing and selling, asthma, sneezing and nasal congestion and nausea. Permethrins and pyrethrums have been linked to a variety of serious health conditions like autism, parkinsons, birth defects, depression, breast cancer, thyroid damage and disease, liver disease, kidney problems and damage to the immune, endocrine and nervous systems.

Permethrins and pyrethrums kill their victim by modifying the normal biochemistry and physiology of the membrane sodium channels and altering the nerve function. In other words it paralyzes the nervous system.

Additionally, the half life of permethrins in soil is 30 days. This means that in order to completely break down were talking a good 6 months. In 60 days there is still 25% left, in 90 days 12% is still present and even at 210 days there is still 3% present on the soil.

Now if all this isn’t bad enough, here’s the real kicker in regard to mosquito fogging. Permethrins are only effective at knocking down and paralyzing it’s intended victim; it doesn’t kill them. So another chemical is added with permethrins to give it more killing power called piperonyl butoxide.

Piperonyl butoxide is a suspected carcinogen and believed to be highly toxic to the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal, reproductive and nervous systems. It is suspected of being connected to symptoms and conditions such as coma, convulsions, renal damage, hyperexcitability, prenatal damage, vomiting, weight loss, anorexia and many more. It too is toxic to birds, fish and other aquatic life.

Piperonyl butoxide works by inhibiting the detoxification pathways of it’s victim, which means the pesticide is then permitted to remain in its victim for a longer period of time, so that permethrins can kill it. In humans this detox pathway is in the liver, this means this chemical targets the liver.

So these two chemicals together knock down the intended victim by attacking it’s nervous system and then render it unable to detox the chemical out of it’s body by inhibiting it’s detox pathways.

Make no mistake, folks, this is exactly what these chemicals do to the human body as well — attacks the nervous system and inhibits detox pathways. The fact that these chemicals are toxic to insects and other mammals, means it is toxic to the human body as well. I can tell you this is true from personal experience. When I am exposed to pesticides, my body responds by having respiratory difficulty, severe tremors that border on convulsions, depression, numbness in lips and tongue, diarrhea, inability to think clearly, thyroid dysfunction and my detox pathways in my liver are severely damaged. There are millions of people who respond the same way, but this is information that is not widely known, because the chemical companies don’t want the public to know this.

It’s important to remember that your public health and safety organizations are taking their information from the EPA, FDA and the manufacturers of the chemicals. You are not getting the truth. The goal of chemical manufacturers is to keep their chemicals on the market so they make money, not to protect the consumer and unfortunately the EPA and FDA are in their pocket. They hold out on listing the toxicity of a product until their hand is forced, they are often only concerned with whether a chemical causes cancer, when cancer is only one possible effect of toxicity. Many chemicals are not carcinogenic, however they harm the nervous, endocrine and immune systems and damage internal organs, which is just as serious. Additionally, they fail to take into account the issue of accumulation. When you consider the fact that the human body is exposed to an onslaught of chemicals every day, the combination of all them together creates even more toxicity. Pesticide sales generate trillions of dollars in our world and the truth about their toxicity would be detrimental to our economy, so it is covered up. It does not take a rocket scientist to put one and one together and see the dangers we are being exposed to.

The arrival of the West Nile Virus was a dream come true for the pesticide companies. They set off a campaign to instill unfounded fear within the population and then took advantage of these fears to make bundles of money. The truth of the matter is that the chance you are going to die from the West Nile Virus is extremely unlikely. Your health is put at a much higher risk of harm from mosquito fogging than it is from West Nile Virus.

Let’s put a couple things in perspective. West Nile Virus is listed as a “rare disease” by the Office of Rare Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. According to the CDC, so far in the year of 2008 there have been 1030 humans infected with West Nile Virus in the entire country, and it’s almost the end of the year. Out of this 1030 only 20 of these cases were fatal. Millions of people suffer from pesticide poisoning each year. Each year 200,000 people are hospitalized for the flu and 36,000 of them die. There is no epidemic of West Nile here. It is absurd that we spend millions of dollars spraying toxic pesticides all over the population.

As Dr. Mercola points out pesticides are responsible for killing a lot more birds than West Nile Virus and the symptoms of pesticide poisoning have some similarities to West Nile symptoms, such as numbness, inflammation of the brain and neuropathy. So some people may actually be having reactions to pesticides that are classified as the West Nile Virus.

Another important fact is that even the botanical form, which is often sold in health food stores as an alternative pesticide, called pyrethrum or pyrethrins is also a neurotoxin. In it’s natural organic form it is a plant in the chrysanthemum family and the pesticide is made from the dried shower head. Although it is certainly a safer choice than organophosphate and organochlorines, because it breaks down faster than the synthetic form, it too is harmful to birds, fish and other mammals including humans. It too paralyzes the nervous system in the same way and is also linked to health conditions like autism, tremors, etc. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it won’t hurt you. There are many things in nature that are naturally poisonous.

When I first started living a green lifestyle, I hadn’t done my homework thoroughly, and I thought it was okay to use the natural botanical pyrethrins and I bought a bottle at the health food store of the powder and sprinkled it around my kitchen to get rid of some ants. Shortly thereafter I had trouble breathing, I was shaking, trembling and disoriented, my lips and tongue were numb and I could hardly stand up because my legs wouldn’t work. I was glad it was in powder form because it was easy to clean up and I had to get rid of it immediately.

To protect your health from toxic pesticides like permethrins, you need to keep yourself informed by sources who are actually telling the truth. Don’t allow public and government agencies to be your compass. Read more about the impact of pesticides on your health.

If you live in an area that fogs, I encourage you to protect you and your family by finding out when your community fogs and stay in the house with the windows shut during this time. I recommend staying in for about 12 hours if possible, but at the very least for several hours.

Other References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrethrum
http://npic.orst.edu/

{ 23 comments… add one }

  • sara April 22, 2010, 10:44 pm

    thanks so much for clarifying this. I am on holiday in Fiji, castaway island and was immersed in a stinky fog, they told me ‘oh, it’s ok, makes the mosquitoes go away’ i was so angry that they didn’t inform me or give me the option to not have it! On holidays too! Am so angry! Being pregnant and having a toddler makes it even ruder!

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins April 23, 2010, 10:22 am

    Oh, Sara,

    Sorry to hear that. That’s just a crime in my opinion. It’s so irresponsible. Yes, at a minimum they should inform.

    Pesticides are even more harmful for pregnant women and toddlers.

    Cynthia

  • Juliana July 8, 2010, 11:58 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I am 48 and have Parkinson’s which is know for pesticides as being a contributing factor. I have always been sensitive to chemicals, perfumes and off smells. I actively avoided them not having any idea I would end up with Parkinson’s.. who does?? Hopefully my Mom will be convinced with your article and leave town at least for a few days like I am. She already has neurological problems and I do not want her being exposed to this. I wish they were not spaying, and were taking action with a more natural method.

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins July 21, 2010, 9:37 pm

    You’re welcome, Juliana. I’m glad it was helpful. I suggest you take a look at these page’s on detoxifcation and Parkinson’s.

    *
    http://www.evenbetternow.com/chemical-toxicity.asp?PARTNER=holistichelp

    http://www.evenbetternow.com/parkinsons-disease.html?PARTNER=holistichelp

    Best
    Cynthia

  • Christina Drefahl August 7, 2010, 1:31 pm

    As of 7/6/2010 my landlord was spray a fogger over his garden and greenbean patchthat is right by our window. My husband and i noticed a burning plastic smell invading our whole house. My step daughter of 7 was on the couch sleeping as this fogg pored through the window as she sleeped. My two stepson could even smell it in their room as well. The only room it did not reach that badly was my 2 yr old sons room . But my 2 yr old son has could like sympoms and my husband got a headach and i a sore throught. So i guess my ? is how bad is this stuff and what can i do , can my landloard get into trouble by fogging in a resadential erea?

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins August 11, 2010, 9:49 pm

    Hi Christina,

    They are as bad as bad can get. About the worse thing that impacts our health. I encourage you to read this page.

    http://www.holistichelp.net/pesticides.html

    No, there isn’t anything you can do about it being it used. It isn’t illegal, although in my opinion it should be.

    If I were you, I would move. Repeated exposure can cause long-term and permanent damage. At the very least ask the landlord to notify you when they are going to fog and make sure your windows are shut for at least a couple days thereafter.

    Cynthia

  • Joe February 27, 2011, 5:08 am

    Cynthia,

    Thank you for the article, it is very helpful and informative. I am fairly health conscious and work hard to keep unhealthy chemicals away from my family and I. We use fluoride filters on our water, avoid diet sugar substitutes, hydrogenated vegetable oils, preservatives, etc., and shop for organic products when they are offered.

    Here’s my problem, however. I love the outdoors. I live in Washington DC and have a wonderful deck with a wooded back yard where I’ve built a play area for my 4 and 6 year old daughters, and a garden that we all love. Unfortunately, we can rarely enjoy as much as a drink in the evening because the mosquitoes are absolutely unbearable. I’ve tried cleaning up all the water and other natural methods, but nothing works.

    So here is my dilemma. If I buy a mosquito fogger and use it as wisely as possible (with a mask, ensure my family and neighbors are inside until it is settled, ensure we all wash our hand like usual, don’t eat off the floor etc.), does the potential added risk of adverse affects outweigh the potential value of no bugs, as many of the fogger reviewers claim they enjoy?

    Basic risk analysis would highlight that no risk is worth the potential health impact. But life is so short already, and I hate mosquitoes! I feel bad stepping on ants, but if I could snap my fingers and annihilate all mosquitoes from this planet I wouldn’t have to think for a second. And there are few things I enjoy more than sitting out on the deck with my wife and friends enjoying a nice glass of wine while the kids play in a mosquito free area.

    We know all the parks and golf courses and virtually all public outdoor areas use them already so it’s not like the additional exposure for those few nights we want to enjoy would be changing much.

    I have a month or two still to decide, and still have to discuss with my wife and neighbors, but this will not be an easy decision.

    Joe

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins March 3, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Hi Joe,

    You’re welcome.

    There is no way to use a mosquito fogger as wisely as possible.

    There is no such thing as a safe level of pesticide.

    The chance the mosquitoes are going to hurt you is very low, the chance
    the pesticides are going to hurt is certain. The whole West Nile
    fiasco is nothing more than a scare tactic so you will buy more
    pesticides. Please read these pages as well

    http://www.holistichelp.net/blog/why-you-should-avoid-mosquito-repellent/

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2002/08/31/west-nile-part-two.aspx?aid=CD405

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/06/14/pesticides-west-nile.aspx

    It makes no sense to take all the good steps that you already take in
    your diet and then counteract that with pesticides.

    Why would you want to expose your children to neurotoxins?
    Please read this page on pesticides.

    http://www.holistichelp.net/pesticides.html

    There are many other methods you can try to control mosquitos that are
    non-toxic, like herbs, electronic zappers, nets etc. I encourage you to do some research on those.

    Best
    Cynthia

  • Yvette Mcduffy August 7, 2012, 10:29 am

    They were spraying in black nieborhoods in shelbyville indiana and I feel that this exposer was not safe and to this day I have respirtory problems to this day as well as other family members. What can we do about it now ?

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins August 10, 2012, 10:13 pm

    Hi Yvette,

    Well, one needs to try and help the body get rid of the pesticides by improving their detoxification system. You can take a look at the following page to learn more

    http://www.holistichelp.net/how-to-detox-your-body.html

    In general, we need a lot of glycine to make sure we get rid of pesticides. A heavy pesticide exposure can drain our glycine reserves.

    Additionally, there are a variety of nutritional formulas and homeopathics that are designed specifically for pesticide detoxification.

    Best
    Cynthia

  • David March 17, 2013, 10:58 pm

    Hi,

    Greeting!!

    Thanks for the information. I’m David from Philippines, our Provincial Government here are also using this Fogging things in schools, Markets and even roads.So we decided to develop our own organic insect repellent coming from Lemongrass and other organic essential oil produce by our organic Farmers. We develop this, to suppress the use of chemical spray in our area.

    This Spray can be use even your eating with family.

  • vicki campbell March 28, 2013, 1:31 am

    I used to run through the foggers at our local park as a child, along with most of my friends. This was in the late 70’s,early 80’s. What on earth were they using then? How could the drivers have just let us run behind them, inhaling lungful after lungful of those poisons?

  • pramila September 20, 2013, 10:21 pm

    My apartment Association is planning to use foggers in our outdoor play area.How safe is it? how long does the effect last?Does it have to be done every day to have a mosquito free area for 3 to 4 hours in the evening? Lots of breeding areas outside our apartment,so I feel It may not be effective. and a waste of money.What I am really worried about is how it will affect the health of our children.

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins October 22, 2013, 10:46 am

    Hi Pramila,

    No pesticide is safe. The impact on heath is listed above. Also be sure to read the following page

    http://www.holistichelp.net/pesticides.html

    Best
    Cynthia

  • Cinnamon March 18, 2014, 5:28 pm

    My neighbor below me burns every night some kind of insect or mosquito repellant. I smoke cigarettes so I’m outside on the deck a lot. I have all these symptoms and am convinced I may be poisoned by it. I’ve asked the landlord to ask him to stop and he did for about three weeks. Started feeling much better. Now he’s at it again. If he keeps doing it, what can I do to stop him? I’d move if I could afford to…

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins March 18, 2014, 9:19 pm

    Hi Cinnamon

    No, unfortunately, there is not anything you can do to make someone stop using pesticides. I would try talking with the landowner again, but you will probably end up back where you are again.

    In these kinds of situations one typically has to move.

    On the other hand, those cigarettes you are smoking on the deck are poisoning you just as much, just a little slower. You should take a look at the following page

    http://www.holistichelp.net/natural-ways-to-quit-smoking.html

    Best
    Cynthia

  • Michael K. January 1, 2015, 10:31 pm

    Hello,great article on the pesticides.The link was sent to me by a friend,to whom I related the following.While sitting back this NewYears Day,2015, I found myself reminiscing about the”good old days”. I’m a white male,about to turn 48, at the end of next month.I have an excellent long-term memory,and was recalling some of my childhood-the furthest back I can remember is 4 years old.I was in Nursery School then.That would have been 1971-72. I have distant memories of my family’s vacation to Florida,in the summer back then,I remember Nursery School,our playing,our forced naps and our singing there.Around that time,I can very clearly remember it,there were yellow-orange colored municipal vehicles owned by our small city’s public works department that would drive through our neighborhood,fogging up the entire neighborhood with chemicals-supposedly for mosquito/insect control.I would actually run outside when these trucks were in the neighborhood and just smell+inhale the fog!As a little boy,I must have enjoyed it.There was somewhat of a petroleum/sulfur/tar smell to this cloud.Telling my 84- yr old mom tonight of my recollections,she said she remembers these trucks came to spray the neighborhood every Monday.She didn’t yell at me to get in the house I guess because nobody thought the stuff was bad.Additionally,both my parents were immigrants.There was a time that these’foggy’times,were replaced with by a truck that would simply drive by real slow,while the vehicles would spray a much lighter fog,directly into the wooded areas,on the right side of the road.I believe there was some type of side tail-pipe that sprayed this stuff into the woods,without having to fog up the whole neighborhood-so much,that moving vehicles had to slow down,for lack of visibility.I’m guessing,from the google searches,that would have been in ’72 after the use of DDT was banned in the U.S.(I am only guessing the stuff was DDT,that was used). What really surprises me is I spent five hours today,on the iPad,COMPLETELY UNABLE to read anything of those days! I stumbled on a few pages,when I thought I hit paydirt,only to be disappointed with’404-NOT FOUND’- or some other such message.I checked the Univ.of CT records site,this city’s page,and nothing.I know I’m not imagining this,because others also remember those days.By the way,I’m not trying to draw any conclusions or parallels,but I consider myself to be in decent health.I haven’t smoked cigarettes in a few years,but I have very high cholesterol,was just told that a blood test is showing hypothyroidism,and I am being treated for ADD,Bi-Polar II depression,with anxiety+panic disorder,and (Axis II)Borderline Personality Disorder.Sometimes,I have”crappy” days,while others are fine.I would really love to learn as much as I can about pesticides used in southern New England,up to the early’70’s.Everything you wrote was really eye opening,and I hope to read other related articles by you,in the near future.Thanks so much. Michael K.- Milford,Connecticut.(I’m in the same home today that I grew up in)

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins January 5, 2015, 10:23 pm

    You’re welcome Michael. Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, many people can remember a similar story. You can learn more about pesticides on the following page.

    http://www.holistichelp.net/pesticides.html

    And more about depression on the following pages

    http://www.holistichelp.net/causes-of-depression.html

    http://www.holistichelp.net/anxiety-and-depression.html

    Best
    Cynthia

  • Emma April 16, 2016, 4:27 am

    I’ve been living in Singapore for 6 months now and the use of fogging here is stressing me out! Our condo is fogged every Friday afternoon because there is a dengue problem in the neighborhood. I have a one year old daughter. We are on the 14th floor and I close all the windows and stay inside once the fogging begins but my worry is the swimming pools. I don’t use the pool for a few days afterwards but I honestly don’t feel comfortable using it at all because I’m sure the chemicals are hanging around. On the other hand it is such a shame not to be able to bring my daughter swimming when we feel like it.

  • Melissa August 18, 2016, 9:48 am

    This is the first week of the school year and twice this week while the children were standing at the curb waiting for the bus, the city of Bethel Heights, Arkansas, drove by and sprayed a thick fog. I just think it’s ridiculous that they can’t at least wait until our children are at school! I’m infuriated about this.

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins August 27, 2016, 5:34 pm

    Indeed, that is outrageous. Criminal. It should be illegal.

    Best,

    Cynthia

  • Jaya March 20, 2017, 11:15 pm

    Hi There

    I’m glad I found this. We are a defence family that has moved to East Timor. Our compound is fogged 3x a week in the morning. Sometimes I can still smell it with the windows shut.

    We were told in our brief that it is harmless so today I’ve fetched some mint from the garden for an alkaline drink lol
    I rinsed and soaked the leaves however I had an after taste that reminded me of what the fogger smells like.
    I wondered if this was my imagination,

    Can I get your advice on what we should do to keep our family safe as possible in this situation?

    I’m going to make sure the clothes are off the line as soon as I hear that thing start up.

    Kind regards
    Jaya

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins April 11, 2017, 11:44 am

    Hi Jaya,

    It’s not your imagination. Any gardens in the vicinity of the fogging will be contaminated.

    I’m sorry, there is no advice to keep one safe in this situation. It is a toxic situation.

    The best you can do is keep the windows shut. Don’t eat from the garden. Cover anything in the yard. But, if it is going on 3 times a week, it is never having time to break down. So it is present all the time.

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