A toxic overreaction to Zika virus threat
To the editor:
Sherwood Greens Road District in Becket is a road district as defined by the commonwealth of Massachusetts and has a governing body, the prudential committee whose mission is to maintain the roads and lakes within the district as defined by state law in 1997. The prudential committee has put forth an article (Article 3): "To see if the district will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $1,800 to proceed with mosquito spraying throughout the Greens for the prevention of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne disease."
The Greens is a lake community and has extensive wetlands. The synthesized chemical which would be sprayed if this article is approved by majority vote at the annual meeting on June 4 is pyrethroid, and according to the state's own public health fact sheet FAQ about spraying and mosquito control "the pyrethroid adulticides are considered highly toxic to fish and bees. Therefore, these products are not permitted to be applied to or near open water bodies or in sensitive environments such as wetlands."
Furthermore in a 2006 journal study by the Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana pyrethroids were found to be highly toxic to honey bees. Honey bees are the chief pollinators for fruits and vegetables and necessary for a sustainable ecosystem.
The prudential committee has not sought any advice or permission from the Becket Conservation Commission to this author's knowledge. Nor has it put out a general inquiry to the residents (part-time or permanent) of the Greens of the proposed aerosol spraying of potentially harmful chemicals throughout the Greens.
The likelihood of a Zika strain-carrying mosquito coming into the Berkshires or any other New England state is very slim. The only cases of United States citizens infected by the Zika virus have been travelers abroad who returned to the states after contracting the virus elsewhere. It is my opinion as a resident and prudential committee member that the residents of the Greens should vote No on Article 3 and reject the prudential committee's attempt to subject our neighborhood and the surrounding area to this noxious, potentially harmful chemical. The risk to our honeybees, which are already suffering from colony collapse disorder is too great.
Michael Lavery, Becket The writer is a member of the Sherwood Greens Prudential Committee.