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Last year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts conducted aerial spraying for the first time in sixteen years in order to combat mosquitoes that might carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The pesticide Anvil is used by the Commonwealth for aerial spraying, and is also often used in ground spraying. 


Is Anvil harmless?
Anvil contains sumithrin, a synthetic form of pyrethrum which is a poison made from chrysanthemum flowers.  The fact that the poison is derived from a natural plant causes some people to think that it is harmless.  However, many natural plants are highly toxic, and the fact that pyrethroids mimic a natural poison does not make it any safer.  Anvil also contains piperonyl butoxide (PBO), which increases the ability of the pesticide to kill mosquitoes by preventing insects from detoxifying the poison. 


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Exposure to Anvil can cause severe health impacts
Symptoms of pyrethroid inhalation include
coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, chest pain, or difficulty breathing. 

If pyrethroids get on your skin, it can result in a rash, itching, or blisters. 


 

Asthma
Exposure to Anvil can trigger respiratory inflammation (asthma). And there is one report of a healthy person developing asthma after exposure to Anvil.

People with asthma are cautioned to stay indoors for at least one hour after the spraying has ceased, as exposure to Anvil can aggravate pre-existing asthma.


Long term effects of pyrethroid exposure
These include disruption of the endocrine system (by mimicking estrogen) which in turn can lead to lowered sperm counts in males and abnormal growth of breast tissue in both males and females. 

There is also evidence to suggest that exposure to pyrethroids can lead to tremors, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning.  

There is evidence that pyrethroids harm the thyroid gland, and there is suggested evidence that it is carcinogenic.

EPA states that pyrethrin and pyrethroids are of “toxicological concern.”  EPA recently classified pyrethrins as “Suggestive Evidence of Carcinogenicity, but Not Sufficient to Assess Human Carcinogenic Potential”. This category is described as one “which raises a concern for carcinogenic effects but is judged not sufficient for a conclusion as to human carcinogenic potential.”

Finally, the other ingredient in Anvil, PBO (piperonyl butoxide), is a skin and eye irritant and is also a known carcinogen. It is listed as a suspected gastro-intestinal or liver poison, and a suspected nerve poison, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances.


Cancer and Pesticides
As doctors and researchers unravel the mysteries of cancer, they have learned that cancer can be triggered by a person’s genes, their behavior (for example smoking cigarettes), as well as environmental exposures. 

Many of these environmental causes of cancer are unknown.  However, childhood leukemia and brain cancer are two types of cancer that appear to have an environmental component in their development.  Although this work is still ongoing, pesticides are one of the culprits being studied

Childhood cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death among children in the United States.  Childhood cancer rates are on the rise, increasing at a rate of approximately 1% annually. Because childhood cancer is rare, it is very difficult to link cancer with exposure to a particular environmental contaminant.  Researchers believe that children genetically pre-disposed to cancer can be particularly sensitive to carcinogens, and exposure can trigger cancer fairly easily.  

Children are more vulnerable to toxins than adults.  Given their low weight relative to their adult counterparts, children breathe more air, drink more water, and ingest more pesticide residues than adults.  Children also play closer to the ground, and have more hand-to-mouth activity, which can increase their exposure to pesticides that have been applied aerially or from the ground.  Unfortunately, information on chemical exposures and toxicity available from agencies like EPA are not applicable to children.

Children in utero are also at a greater risk from pesticides.  In a study published in the November 1997 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives , researchers reported a statistically significant association between elevated rates of brain tumors in children who had been exposed to use of flea and tick foggers before they were born.  (see Janice M. Pogoda and Susan Preston-Martin, "Household Pesticides and Risk of Pediatric Brain Tumors," Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 105, No. 11 (November 1997), pgs. 1214-1220).  The most common ingredient in these foggers was pyrethrins and pyrethroid insecticides.

 

 

 

 

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