Editor’s note: The following letter was originally sent to the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees last month, regarding mosquito spraying done by the Des
Dear members of the Oak Park village board,
I just received a call from Paul Geary of the Mosquito Abatement District telling me that we will be doused with pesticides again tonight (Aug. 25). I asked why it was necessary and if that meant the previous spraying didn’t work. I also asked if they do a “count” after the spraying to see how effective the spraying was since it seems that, if we actually eliminated a lot of mosquitoes, there would be less to breed and less flying around now.
Within a very confusing and contradictory response, he told me that they base the “effectiveness” of the spraying on a “long-term” (since 2002) study of the results, but was unable to provide me any information revealing what those studies have shown. That’s because the numbers are all “in his computer.” And not enough time has passed – eight years seems long enough to me.
He could also not tell me what actual temperature ranges would indicate that spraying would not occur – waffling back and forth and unable to tell me what the temp might be tonight having not looked up that information yet. Last night it hit 63 degrees on my home thermometer when 65 degrees was one of the cutoffs (among several) that he mentioned, but they are still prepared to spray. At least now I know that we can call the mosquito abatement district at 708-447-1765 tonight before we go to bed and there will be a message there. The last time they sprayed we called our police department and no one there knew anything … and there seemed to be no other option. Could you at least let people know how to find this out?
I hope you all know that people in our town have not supported this broadcast spraying of toxic chemicals for what is, and now seems even more, an ineffective way of managing an “infestation” or an illness of questionable proportions. The avowed purpose is to protect an extremely small portion of the population who might get sick from a bite, let alone suffer serous illness or death. On the other hand, studies have been done and the results prove that pesticide exposure is dangerous, causing many types of illness.
The numbers of people adversely affected by West Nile Virus is smaller than many other public health threats for which we don’t endanger tens of thousands of people in order to protect a handful … when wearing long sleeves, long pants and staying indoors is the truly best protection anyone can have … and it won’t make the rest of us sick, especially our ever more vulnerable children.
Please tell me why you permit this dangerous practice to continue.
Julie Samuels is an Oak Park resident, former candidate for village trustee in the 2009 election, member of the village’s forestry commission and secretary of the Safer Pest Control Project.