The Allegheny County Health Department will have crews spraying mosquitoes in the West End and the Strip District sections of the city of Pittsburgh this evening from 8 to 10 o'clock. The spraying is in response to mosquito samples testing positive for West Nile virus in the West End and the Asian tiger mosquito in the Strip District. West Nile is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and not by birds carrying the virus.
However, Patricia DeMarco, executive director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, is concerned about the spraying. She says the pesticide contains a nerve alterer that has been classified by the E.P.A. as likely to carcinogenic to humans if ingested orally......"it will harm not only the target species but any other insects that are in the area at the time, and it is also likely to flow into waterways as droplets fall on the ground and get washed into the water."
But Bill Todaro, the medical entomologist with the County Health Department, says this pesticide has been used safely around the country....."maybe if you spray it down your throat you might get sick" but crews are only using 2 to 3 ounces per acre.
DeMarco says the Health Department could avoid using the pesticide by getting people to eliminate standing water which serves as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Todaro says they've been doing that for years..."We get a lot of complaints from people about neighbors who have scrap auto tires, junk and abandoned swimming pools in their yards. We send out violation notices and bring people into magistrate's court to get them to clean up their yard."
DeMarco is also concerned about the impact of the spraying on honeybees but Todaro says they've checked and there are no honeybee colonies in the area they will be spraying and honeybees do their work during the day, and the spraying will be at night.
Todaro says they plan to spray sections of Homewood, Point Breeze, Bloomfield and Shadyside Wednesday night.