Mosquito season is here, and even though spraying of pesticides to control adult mosquitoes is the least effective and most environmentally damaging method to control mosquito diseases, we’re about to be blanketed with toxic pesticides… If you want to reduce your families and your local ecosystem’s exposure to these toxins, there is an option to “opt-out” from spraying carried out by the Commonwealth. However, there are also some important caveats…

Anyone in Massachusetts can request to be excluded from wide area applications of pesticides through the Dept. of Agriculture (renters must have the permission of their landlord). When someone fills out the form found on the below page, it goes directly to the mosquito control project that services that town and that property will be excluded.

*How to request exclusion from wide area pesticide applications: http://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-request-exclusion-from-wide-area-pesticide-applications

IMPORTANT NOTE: Exclusion requests must be filed EACH CALENDAR YEAR.

Note also that excluded properties should be marked with signage saying “No Spray” as outlined on the above-linked page.

HOWEVER (BIG ONE)… when a public health hazard is declared by the Department of Public Health (which is very likely to happen) and emergency spraying needs to take place,  those exclusions are not honored during the time that is set forth in the DPH declaration, unless the property is a certified organic farm.

If someone has filled out this form, they should be notified if/when spraying occurs (so at least people can take some precautions)…

About organic farms:

The Department reaches out to the certified organic farms at the beginning of the season to gather information relative to their location so that if an emergency application does take place they have their information to include in their mapping. *If someone is in the process of being certified organic with Bay State Organic or another certifier, they are also eligible to be excluded from wide area pesticide applications, even under emergency declaration.* Those who are in the process of becoming certified or were recently certified should fill out the exclusion form and contact MDAR directly to confirm that they will be excluded as an organic operation.

*How to request exclusion from wide area pesticide applications: http://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-request-exclusion-from-wide-area-pest…

Please see the state’s “FAQ” on Exclusions from Wide Area Pesticide Applications, here:

http://www.mass.gov/doc/exclusions-from-pesticide-applications-faq/download

Important: If/when you “opt-out” for your property, be sure to also notify your local town/city officials (ie. Board of Selectman, Town/City Council, Board of Health, Mayor, etc). The more residents they hear from about opting out, the more likely they will support an alternative municipal mosquito disease management strategy.

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The blanket spraying of synthetic pesticides is a threat to the integrity of insect biodiversity and ecosystem health that our farms and gardens rely upon. It also raises serious health concerns, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These chemicals are known to elevate risk factors to our immune and respiratory systems. Not only that, but even even according to the national Centers for Disease Control and US Environmental Protection Agency, spraying of pesticides to control adult mosquitoes is the least effective, and most environmentally damaging method to control mosquito diseases.

Did you know?

*Products containing synthetic pyrethroids are not natural, they are synthetic chemical formulations that also contain other or “inert” ingredients. Neither Massachusetts agencies nor the Environmental Protection Agency test the health or environmental impacts of mixtures of active and inert chemical ingredients.

*Sumithrin, a pesticide often used to control mosquitoes, can result in lung irritation, and has been documented to cause asthmatic responses in those exposed.

*Piperonyl-butoxide, a synergist intended to magnify the toxicity of synthetic pyrethroids, has not been tested in combination with these active ingredients, and is considered a possible human carcinogen by the EPA.

(references for the above three points, respectively):

Donley, Nathan. 2016. Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails. Center for Biological Diversity. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/pesticides_reduction/pdfs/…

National Pesticide Information Center. 2020. Sumithrin. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/archive/dphentech.html#references

EPA. 2018. Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential. http://npic.orst.edu/chemicals_evaluated.pdf

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“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of toxins!”

Mosquito Prevention Tip #1: Seek out and drain all standing water on your property at least once a week to interrupt breeding cycles.

For more ways to control mosquitoes in a proactive and ecological way, please see this blog post from the Xerces Society: http://www.xerces.org/blog/managing-mosquitos-common-sense-solutions