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West Nile Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Jujly 2004                                    

Howard Garrett says spraying for West Nile Virus does more harm than good

Talk show host and author calls West Nile most overblown threat since killer bees

DALLAS, Texas – West Nile Virus is the most overblown health threat since the “killer bees,” says Howard Garrett, host of the popular radio program “The Natural Way” and author of more than a dozen  books on organic gardening, landscaping and pest control.

“People need to get a grip and try to put things into perspective,” said Garrett, who is known to fans as the Dirt Doctor. “One person has died this year from West Nile. And while even a single death is tragic, thousands more have died from asthma and other respiratory diseases, which can be aggravated by the spraying of harsh chemicals.”

Garrett praises Fort Worth city officials for their approach to combating potential West Nile problems.

“They realize that spraying does more harm than good, so they have focused their efforts on educating homeowners,” said Garrett. “The City of Dallas and other metropolitan areas across the country, however, have been foolish. These cities have listened to the chemical pushers under the misconception that spraying toxic chemicals is helpful in controlling the mosquitoes.”

Garrett argues that spraying toxic chemical pesticides, known generically as synthetic pyrethroids, has become the primary recommendation for control of mosquitoes.

“Besides being toxic, this procedure doesn’t work,” says Garrett. “An adult mosquito spray program conducted late at night, as is usually done, misses the primary activity time of the pests. It also sprays or fogs down streets primarily affecting front yards of residential property. Most mosquito problems are in back yards. When these airborne toxins reach water features, ponds and creeks, a common result is the death of fish.”

The risk of getting West Nile virus is remote, says Garrett, pointing out that a very small percentage of mosquitoes have the virus. An even smaller percentage of people exposed to the virus develop symptoms, and a minute percentage of those people even get sick.

“Well, there are tremendously larger numbers of people who die from asthma and other respiratory diseases,” says Garrett. “Even the experts who push the toxic spraying admit that the pyrethrum and pyrethroid products adversely affect those with allergies and can actually cause those problems.”

Garrett says that spraying may increase the mosquito problem by killing beneficial insects such as dragonflies that help control mosquitoes.

Garrett argues that synthetic pyrethroids such as Scourge (resmethrin) are particularly hard on people with asthma and other allergies. These toxic products now contain piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a synthetic synergist that interferes with the insect’s system of neutralizing toxins. PBO makes the pesticide more effective at killing the targeted pest, but the override of the body’s detox system is also a concern for other animals including birds, lizards, toads, frogs, beneficial insects, pets and humans. MSDS sheets (Material Safety Data Sheets) on these products, which are available from pesticide manufactures, point out that liver tumor increases in test animals have been significant.

Garrett says homeowners can be an important part of the solution by following this effective and non-toxic site management program for mosquito control:

  1. Empty standing water where possible. Even small containers such as pot saucers, old tires, soda bottles and cans hold enough water for mosquito breeding.

Treat water that cannot be emptied with gambusia fish or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis ‘Israelensis’) products such as Bactimos Briquettes or Mosquito Dunks.

For temporary control, homeowners can spray adult mosquitoes with plant oil pesticides and can broadcast finely ground cedar granules where mosquitoes are a significant problem.

Use organic landscape management to encourage birds, bats, fish, dragonflies and other beneficial insects.

Use skin repellents that contain natural repellent herbs such as aloe vera, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, lavender, vanilla, citronella, catnip and other helpful herbs.

DEET products are toxic and should not be used, especially on children – as is stated on the label.


City officials are continuing to order spraying throughout specific quadrants of the City of Dallas.  They are spraying toxic pesticides into our neighborhoods that can and will adversly affect all inhabitants, humans, wildlife, pets, and insects.  Stand up for your neighborhood by calling Dallas'
Environmental and Health Services Office at 214.948.4429 or by emailing your personal protest to the Department Director, Karen Bradford Rayzer at or by contacting the Manager of Environmental and Health Services, R. Jayroe at .

You can also call the Mosquito Hotline for daily spraying updates at 214-670-1733.  You can leave a message with your address and zipcode demanding that your area not be sprayed - this has actually worked for several people, Howard included.




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