Gateway Green Alliance

Compost Dispatch, January 2004
City Health Department Fails Dragonfly Project Test

by Michael Allen, Green Projects Coordinator

The Gateway Green Alliance’s Dragonfly Project gives the St. Louis City Department of Health an “F” for its 2003 pest control program. Although the Department of Health did not begin fogging pesticides to kill mosquitoes until the West Nile hysteria returned in late summer, it did so with abandon. The Department sent its white trucks around the city streets at dusk, often fogging near restaurants with outdoor seating. This measure was taken in addition to the less visible components of the department’s pest control program, which includes spot spraying and larvacide.

Despite the rhetorical description of the Department of Health’s pest control policy as being an “integrated pest management” approach that uses pesticides minimally, the practice always seems to involve toxic chemicals and plenty of them.

What is particularly disturbing is that the Health Department did nothing in 2003 to respond to the concerns of citizens. The Gateway Greens invited the Health Department to send a representative to forums on pesticides that it held in February and August, but the department declined to do so despite their advertising that they will send representatives to any public meeting. The department also would not disclose to the Gateway Greens the so-called inert ingredients of its adulticide, Anvil 2+2, informing us in a letter that such information is a “trade secret” of the adulticide’s manufacturer.

Maybe the pesticides are clouding the brains over at the Department of Health, because they continued to ignore complaints that pesticides harm humans, especially the city’s large number of asthma sufferers, pets and wildlife. Also, the department must not have noticed that dragonflies, bats and goldfish are ready to eat mosquitoes and mosquito larvae, which pesticide sprays usually don’t affect.

Apparently the success of the Dragonfly Project’s pilot youth education program in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood was a bit too much for the health department to take, because they have yet to respond to a letter informing them that the program is available to complement their integrated pest management program.

While the youths in that program all got high scores for retention of knowledge and good behavior, the Health Department definitely fails the Dragonfly Project test.

In January, the Department of Health will likely make its pesticide purchases for 2004. Greens should call Mark Ritter, Vector Control specialist, at 314-612-5309 and urge him to reconsider purchasing any pesticides.

With some careful instruction, we can help the department get a better grade in 2004.

Ca'aira and Quantrell work with Michael Allen during the summer 2003 Dragonfly Project program.

Last updated 7 January 2003. Contact: