In cased you missed it, the City of Toronto announced that it will be aerial spraying insecticide to deal with an infestation of gypsy moth larvae. The spraying began on May 18th and is scheduled to continue until June 10th. The City has been spraying via helicopter between the hours of 5am- 7:30am daily.
The spraying is primarily in the west end of Toronto, specifically:
- Princess Margaret Boulevard and Kipling Avenue
- Thorncrest Road
- Edenbridge Drive
- Edenbrook Hill
- Valecrest Drive
- North Drive
- Royal York Road and Bloor Street West
- The Kingsway
- Baby Point Crescent/Baby Point Road
- Jane Street and Bloor Street West
With the warmer weather creeping in more frequently (hard to say most times) this is kind of unfortunate news, as city dwellers will have to be more mindful of the air they breath, especially those of us who are prone to allergies and have asthma. In fact, if you noticed an increase in these symptoms, the insecticide may be why.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Foray 48B)
The City has assured residents that the pesticide is not linked to significant health risks to humans but for safe keeping, advises that if you do not wish to be exposed, remain inside during spraying hours and cover any patio furniture prior to spraying.
Despite the reassurance, there are some side effects that are worth mentioning. In a 2003 study conducted by Petrie K, Thomas M, and Broadbent E. from the Department of Health Psychology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, and, University of Auckland, determined that “aerial spraying with Foray 48B is associated with some adverse health consequences in terms of significant increases in upper airway, gastrointestinal, and neuropsychiatric symptoms, as well as a reduction in overall perception of health in the exposed population.”
The study involved 292 residents who were within the spray zone that were recruited by a door-to-door survey of homes. This area was sprayed the most intensively and those recruited were visited ten weeks prior to the first aerial spraying.
62% of the original participants responded three months after the initial spraying and found that “symptom complaints increased significantly following the aerial spraying, in particular: sleep problems, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, irritated throat, itchy nose, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and gas discomfort. Analyses showed a significant increase in symptoms in those participants with a previous history of hay fever.”
The spraying is only supposed to take place over the span of a month so it’s hard to say whether or not residents will be as affected as the people in New Zealand were.
The reason for the scheduled spraying is due to the over-infestation of the gypsy moth and their natural behaviour towards defoliating trees during their caterpillar phase. Repeated leaf loss stresses out the trees and eventually leads them to death.
As described by the City of Toronto: “during outbreaks the caterpillars are an extreme nuisance; trees lose their foliage, caterpillars crawl everywhere, and their droppings rain from trees.”
It seems as though the City has tried less invasive ways only to find it didn’t produce the results it hoped for.
Has anyone noticed an increase in allergies or experienced any of these effects? Have you seen these helicopters spraying beyond the hours they said they would? Are you for the aerial spraying of pesticides? Let us know!
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