Victory for anti-spray coalition:
NYC concedes spraying against mosquitoes may be dangerous to health

UPdate Summer 2007

For seven years, the No Spray Coalition and other environmental groups have battled the City of New York in Federal Court. At issue was the City’s “massive and indiscriminate” spraying of toxic pesticides, including the organophosphate Malathion, in response to mosquitoes possibly carrying West Nile Virus.

On April 12, 2007, the parties reached a settlement. In the agreement, the City of New York admits that the pesticides sprayed may indeed be dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment.

Contrary to earlier statements from the City, the agreement states that pesticides may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose, cause adverse health effects, kill mosquitoes' natural predators, increase mosquito resistance to the sprays, and are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

Mitchel Cohen, coordinator of the No Spray Coalition sees the settlement agreement as a "tremendous victory" for health and environmental advocates. "Thousands of New Yorkers were made seriously sick by the spraying," Cohen said. "A number of members of our coalition, including several of the plaintiffs, died from pesticide-related illnesses. Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying. We are very glad that the new City administration has to some degree acknowledged that pesticides are extremely dangerous to human health. They need to be rejected as a way of killing mosquitoes."

As part of the settlement the City agreed to pay $80,000 to five grassroots environmental and wildlife rehabilitation groups. They will also meet with the plaintiffs to review an extensive list of concerns that the Coalition provided. The Coalition says that the resolution of the lawsuit begins a new phase in its activities. The Coalition is proposing a Community Environment and Health Council which would make recommendations on environmental health impacts of pesticide use and propose alternative measures.