Gateway Green Alliance

Greens Ask University City to Forgo Pesticides

For immediate release: June 2, 2003

Green Party representatives will join other University City residents to ask its City Council not to use pesticides for mosquito control in summer 2003. Each municipality in St. Louis County decides if it wants to contract for spraying from County Vector Control. Differences of opinion concerning whether University City should be the first municipality in the St. Louis area to change to a "no spray" policy have been so strong that the City Council is holding a public hearing to air the controversy.

What: Public Hearing on Pesticide Spraying for West Nile Virus in University City
When: 7:30 pm, Monday, June 2, 2003
Where: University City Hall Chambers, 6801 Delmar, University City, Missouri

The Green Party relies heavily on information from Dr. David Kennell, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Kennell insists that pesticide spraying poses risks to human health and urban ecology but that "there is no evidence that spraying decreases the risk of West Nile Virus. Pesticides are harmful to those with breathing disorders such as asthma, workers who operate spraying equipment, and children."

According to Dr. Kennell, "Those cities and states that did not spray in 2002 actually had a more successful record of protection than comparable ones that did, and did so by using their resources to educate the public on preventive measures."

Dr. Kennell is concerned that University City could adopt a policy of "limited" spraying for "extreme" cases. He maintains that creating such "wiggle room" would allow officials to respond to every mosquito bite as an "emergency" and lead to unlimited spraying.

Don Fitz, Spokesperson on Toxins for the St. Louis Green Party, claims that pesticide sprays can actually increase the incidence of West Nile Virus. According to Fitz, "Pesticides compromise the immune system. A weakened immune system makes a person more vulnerable to viruses. The pesticide used by St. Louis County includes the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO). PBO damages the blood-brain barrier, which makes it more likely that the flu symptoms of West Nile will become a dangerous encepahalitis."

Missouri Green Party Chairperson Barbara Chicherio resides in University City. She feels that spraying is a "monumental waste of taxpayer money. Mosquitoes don't gather on streets waiting for spray trucks to go by. They are in back yards where less than one part per million of the sprays reach them. The rest of the spray is left as residue to poison us and the insects, birds, fish frogs and bats that would eat mosquitoes if we would just let them do their job efficiently, for free."

Last updated 11 January 2004. Contact: