|Sickness blamed on moth spray|
|By KEVIN HOWE |
Herald Staff Writer
Monterey County Herald
|Article Last Updated:09/26/2007 08:05:40 AM PDT|
|It may go down in local history as the pheromone flu.
Spraying of artificial pheromones designed to disrupt the breeding cycle of the Australian light brown apple moth has made residents, their children and their pets sick, said a number of speakers who came before the Monterey City Council late Tuesday to ask for the city's support in stopping future spraying by the state.
The Peninsula from Marina to Pebble Beach was subjected to aerial spraying of Checkmate OLR-F, a compound the state Department of Food and Agriculture says is safe for humans, animals, insects and other life forms, but specifically addles the libidos of the moths.
But residents of Monterey and surrounding areas told council members they and their friends have come down with aches, pains, sniffles, sore throats, fevers and influenza-like symptoms in the past week since the spraying took place.
Air Force Maj. Tim Wilcox, a student at the Naval Postgraduate School, said his 11-month-old son got sick the morning after his neighborhood was sprayed Sept. 10 and got worse as the week went by until he was admitted to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula for severe respiratory problems.
"I don't know if the spraying was the cause," he said. "But it's a pretty dang good coincidence that it happened when it happened."
Several adults complained of itching, sneezing, headaches and other problems.
Mike Lynberg of Pacific Grove said he and his wife got sick when their area was sprayed. His wife began sending e-mail inquiries to friends, asking them if they had been affected.
"We got 25 or 30 e-mails," he said, "including parents with sick kids."
He has formed a group, Concerned Citizens Against Aerial Spraying, and set up an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for people to send in their own reports of sickness.
Acupuncturist Gina Renee of Pebble Beach said she is getting reports of symptoms from her patients — "lots of headaches, muscle aches, respiratory problems."
Amy Zyzudis described the pheromone as "poison" that killed six of a litter of nine newborn rabbits at her home and sickened other pets.
"The sunflowers I planted taste funny. The air tastes funny," she said. "It smells."
A number of speakers complained about the state's apparent inability or unwillingness to give definite times when the spraying would take place. Others reported repeated strafing runs of spray planes over their homes during the night. Most remarked that the spraying was done without local approval and despite public protests against it.
All urged that the City Council take further action to prevent planned repeat spraying over the city.
Mayor Chuck Della Sala said the council has already gone on record against the spraying, has contacted state officials to protest it, and has City Attorney Deborah Mall and her staff "burning the midnight oil" to find some kind of legal redress.
But he and City Manager Fred Meurer told the audience that, to make the system work, people who feel they have been sickened by the spraying must go to their doctor, be examined and have their physician report the incident to the County Health Department, which can then forward complaints to the state.
Kevin Howe can be reached at 646-4416 or email@example.com.