Zika no longer a global emergency and yet, the pesticide spraying of known neurotoxins continues in Florida.
According to a new study out, naled- the pesticide widely used to fight Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Florida and across the nation- has been linked to deficits in motor functions in Chinese babies. Authors of the study say it’s the first to examine real-world exposure to naled outside of workplace accidents or lab experiments. The University of Michigan study was published in the journal Environment International.
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Using cord blood from 237 mothers who gave birth to healthy babies at a hospital in southeast China between 2008 and 2011, researchers found that at six weeks, the babies displayed no problems. However, at nine months, the babies suffered from slight problems with coordination, movement, and other motor functions. 1 (Researchers used standard motor-skill tests that look at reflexes, body control, movement, and hand and eye coordination to assess problems; as exposure to naled increased, deficits also rose.)
Although the study was only a close snapshot of a particular group of mothers, the authors rightly pointed out the need to take a closer look at using naled.
Naled has been used for decades in Florida to control marsh mosquitoes. It’s sprayed by plane “mostly over suburban fringes bordering marshes and mangroves before dawn.” However, last year (thanks to people like YOU) it drew more attention and quick opposition when Miami-Dade County and other urban areas “battling Zika” started using it: 2
- In South Florida, protesters prompted the county to put off using the pesticide in Miami Beach to give the city more time to notify residents.
- Federal officials backed off a plan to use naled in Puerto Rico after its governor protested.
- Europe had already banned naled in 2012.
- But of course, the CDC recommended its use in combination with organic larvicides that kill mosquito eggs in standing water.
But, back to China. How did women end up with the poison in their cord blood? Especially given the fact that Amvac, the U.S. manufacturer of the pesticide, has no record of selling naled in China?
“Silver said it was impossible to determine how the Chinese mothers ended up with naled in their blood, although she suspected it was used on crops or mosquito spraying. The team used cord blood collected between 2008 and 2011 by co-author Betsy Lozoff for another study that looked at iron deficiency and brain development. They found a number of pesticides but focused on five that occurred in traceable levels.” 3