Zika- Get OFF our Kids | Duke Pharmacologist Animal Studies On DEET’s Brain Effects Warrant Further Testing

DURHAM, N.C. — A Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist is recommending caution when using the insecticide DEET, after his animal studies last year found the chemical causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use. Mohamed Abou-Donia, Ph.D. has also called for further government testing of the chemical’s safety in short-term and occasional use, especially in view of Health Canada’s recent decision to ban products with more than 30 percent of the chemical. Every year, approximately one-third of the U.S. population uses insect repellents containing DEET, available in more than 230 products with concentrations up to 100 percent. While the chemical’s risks to humans are still being intensely debated, Abou-Donia says his 30 years of research on pesticides’ brain effects clearly indicate the need for caution among the general public. His numerous studies in rats, two of them published last year, clearly demonstrate that frequent and prolonged applications of DEET cause neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration. Moreover, rats treated with an average human dose of DEET (40 mg/kg body weight) performed far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks requiring muscle control, strength and coordination. Such effects are consistent with physical symptoms in humans reported in the medical literature, especially by Persian Gulf War veterans, said Abou-Donia. “If used sparingly, infrequently and by itself, DEET may not have negative effects – the literature here isn’t clear,” he said. “But frequent and heavy use of DEET, especially in combination with other chemicals or medications, could cause brain deficits in vulnerable populations.” Children in particular are at risk for subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in the environment, because their skin more readily absorbs them, and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems, said Abou-Donia. Commonly used preparations like insecticide-based lice-killing shampoos and insect repellents are assumed to be safe because severe consequences are rare in the medical literature. Yet subtle symptoms — such as muscle weakness, fatigue or memory lapses –might be attributed erroneously to other causes, he said. With heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides, humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath, said Abou-Donia. His earlier research, examining the brain effects of three chemicals used during the Persian Gulf War, clearly demonstrated that chickens exhibited similar signs that the Gulf War veterans complained of upon returning from service. (Journal of Toxicology and Experimental Health, May, 1996, Volume 48, p. 35 – 56). Such overt symptoms are not seen immediately after use but may manifest themselves months or years after exposure, making a cause-and-effect relationship difficult to establish , said Abou-Donia. By studying animals such as chickens and rats, however, researchers are able to compress the time between exposure and the onset of symptoms: 10 months of a rat’s life is several years in a human’s life. Moreover, researchers can study layers of the rats’ brains at various stages after exposure to measure the chemical’s effects on the brain. Indeed, Abou-Donia’s two most recent studies demonstrate the severe brain and behavioral deficits that rats experience after two months of daily skin applications with DEET and permethrin, another common insecticide, (Experimental Neurology, 2001, volume 172 , p.153- 171); and following 60 days of exposure to DEET and permethrin, and 15 days of pyridostigmine bromide, an anti-nerve gas agent (Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 2001, volume 64, p. 373-384). Both studies examined the effects of each drug alone and in combination. In each study, the treated animals initially appeared to be normal, just like the control group, said Abou-Donia. But when challenged with neurobehavioral tasks that required muscle control, strength and coordination, the rats demonstrated serious impairments. Moreover, a detailed analysis of their brains clearly showed that large numbers of brain cells were dying within three critical brain structures: the cerebral cortex, which controls muscles and movement; the hippocampal formation, which controls memory, learning and concentration; and the cerebellum, which synchronizes body movements. In addition, many of the surviving brain cells showed signs of degeneration and damage consistent with the presence of harmful byproducts called oxygen free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species), which can damage DNA and cell membranes in the brain and the nervous system. The most severe brain cell changes and sensorimotor deficits were seen among rats exposed to combinations of DEET, permethrin and the anti-nerve gas agent pyridostigmine bromide, which reduces the body’s normal ability to inactivate pesticides. Such findings confirmed Abou-Donia’s 1996 and 2001 animal studies demonstrating that harmless doses of these three chemicals proved highly toxic to the brain and nervous system when used in combination. “The take home message is to be safe and cautious when using insecticides,” said Abou-Donia. “Never use insect repellents on infants, and be wary of using them on children in general. Never combine insecticides with each other or use them with other medications. Even so simple a drug as an antihistamine could interact with DEET to cause toxic side effects. Don’t spray your yard for bugs and then take medications. Until we have more data on potential interactions in humans, safe is better than sorry.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Zika- Get OFF our #Kids | #Duke Pharmacologist #Animal #Studies On #DEET’s #Brain Effects Warrant Further Testing

Scientists found evidence that Zika can be deadly to a fetus throughout pregnancy & not just in first trimester.

Keeping Mosquitoes at Bay in the Age of Zika

The chemicals in most bug sprays—including DEET—are considered safe for pregnant women, as long as they’re used as directed, in moderate concentrations.

In a best-case scenario, the United States may still avoid a widespread Zika outbreak this summer.

An epidemic of the mosquito-borne illness in Brazil has linked Zika to thousands of cases of microcephaly and sometimes even death for fetuses. Though health officials have identified a wide swath of the United States where the risk of a Zika outbreak is high, there haven’t been any locally transmitted cases in the United States—meaning, the roughly 350 cases of Zika across the U.S. were brought from abroad, or through sexual transmission, but not from mosquito bites in the States.

A worst-case scenario in the U.S., however, is not out of the question, either. The more scientists learn about Zika, the “scarier” it gets, Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a press conference this week.

“Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring,” she said.

For example, scientists have found early evidence that Zika can be deadly to a fetus throughout pregnancy—and not just in the first trimester. The disease has also been linked to serious infections of the brain and spinal cord among some children and adults, despite its reputation as being a mild illness for adults. The microbiologist Peter Hotez, who develops vaccines for tropical diseases, says Zika could be as catastrophic a public-health disaster as Hurricane Katrina was.

 
For now, the message from the experts is urgent but restrained: Don’t panic, but do be prepared.

Pregnant women, especially, are being instructed to avoid areas where Zika is transmitted locally, and to take extra precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites. That means making sure there are screens on open doors and windows; wearing long sleeves, socks, and pants outside; and using insect repellent once mosquito season gets under way.

But which bug sprays are safe for pregnant women?

Research into the use of various chemicals during pregnancy hasn’t been robust, but there are several studies that support the safety of chemicals commonly found in insect repellents. One randomized, double-blind trial involving nearly 900 women found that when DEET was applied regularly in the second and third trimesters, it could cross the placenta, but it didn’t have any adverse effects on a baby’s survival, growth, development at birth, or development at one year old.

That study didn’t include any women in early pregnancy, but researchers say the results of a separate animal-based experiment conducted in 1994 offer reassuring evidence that DEET is safe in the first trimester. In that study, with one exception, the offspring of rats and rabbits given massive doses of DEET didn’t suffer any ill effects. Because the highest dose was orders of magnitude higher than the normal human dose, researchers wrote in a paper for theCanadian Medical Association Journal in 2003, it appears that DEET is safe when used as recommended.

That’s in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which say it’s safe for women at any stage of pregnancy (and nursing moms) to use insect repellents containing DEET (up to 30 percent concentration), the synthetic compound picaridin (20 percent), or the biopesticide IR3535 (20 percent)—as long as they’re registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. (You can check the EPA database here.)

Shirts and pants treated with the insect-repellent permethrin are also considered safe. (Permethrin is also the active ingredient in many shampoos used to treat lice; and the U.S. Army has treated its combat uniforms with the chemical since 2013.)

 
“The evidence is reassuring that DEET, when used as directed, is safe,” said Peggy Honein, one of the leaders of the Pregnancy and Birth Defects Team for the CDC’s Zika response. “For permethrin-treated clothing, the data is also very reassuring. We would encourage pregnant women to use these methods to prevent mosquito bites, particularly if they’re in  a place where there’s local transmission, but to use them as intended.”

In other words, don’t bathe in the stuff. In fact, the CDC recommends using “just enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing,” and rinsing off once you’re back indoors. Those who want to be particularly cautious could opt for insect repellent with lower concentrations of chemicals, which would have to be reapplied more often.

The Environmental Working Group’s guidelines for pregnant women reflect the CDC findings, but go a bit farther. Because the CDC says repellents containing lemon eucalyptus oil (or PMD, which is the synthetic version of the oil) shouldn’t be used on children under 3 years old, the EWG says pregnant women should avoid it, too.

The bottom line, several medical professionals say, is that EPA-approved insect repellents are safe for pregnant women as long as they’re not overused. But pregnant women should pay attention to their exposure to other chemicals being used to deter insects—especially at larger scales, like in agricultural settings.

“For all other chemicals the potential risks outweigh potential benefits,” said Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist who runs the environmental health program at Hebrew University-Hadassah’s School of Public Health. “Pesticides are intended to harm—hence unless there is clear evidence, they should be suspected as harmful, especially to the sensitive developing fetus … In addition other insect repellent and mosquito-control sprays will not necessarily be effective in practice for prevention of bites and Zika infection. So I suggest precaution regarding using these chemicals.”

Even if Zika outbreaks in the United States are minimal or nonexistent, officials say pregnant women should take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes, which can transmit Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Chikungunya virus, among other illnesses.

The Dangers of DEET & How You Can Safely Repel Mosquitoes Instead | See Pesticide Alternatives to Deet

No one likes getting bitten by mosquitoes. They’re a nuisance and their bites can be itchy and extremely irritating–enough to ruin any outdoor barbecue or picnic. There’s also the risk of the West Nile Virus that has sprung up all over the country in recent years (those most at risk are the elderly, young children or people with compromised immune systems).

However, the most serious danger by far has nothing to do with the West Nile Virus but instead is posed by the pesticides we use to keep the mosquitoes away. And while you likely don’t have much control over the community-wide fogging geared at reducing mosquitoes (other than running indoors and making sure all your windows are tightly shut), you do have control over the pesticides you use personally.

Most insect repellants out there are loaded with toxic chemicals, including the pesticide DEET, which is so poisonous that even the Environmental Protection Agency says you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face. Think about it–if this chemical can kill mosquitoes, it can likely do some harm to other life forms too.

The good news is that there are natural alternatives out there that can keep mosquitoes away while keeping you safe. My favorite is neem-based Outdoor Botanical Gel. It’s made from an organic blend of neem leaf extract, aloe vera base (to soothe bites you already have!), neem oil, citronella oil and geraniol so it’s actually good for your skin–and, unlike DEET, it’s safe for the whole family–even infants and children. You may also be able to find other varieties in health food stores, but be sure to read the label to be sure they’re truly chemical-free.

Other tips to keep mosquitoes away while still enjoying the outdoors this summer include:

  • Staying indoors from dusk to dawn, the peak mosquito biting hours.
  • Wearing long sleeves, pants and socks when possible.

 

Cinnamon Oil Better for Killing Mosquitoes Than DEET: Not only is cinnamon oil useful in baking but it is now being tested as a mosquito pesticide. Find out how cinnamon oil is the safer and healthier alternative to other pesticides and learn about the deadly mosquito repellant that you want to avoid.

What to Use for Insect Repellant–Hint: It’s not DEET: No one likes mosquito bites. But don’t trade permanent neurological damage or even death for temporary partial immunity to mosquito bites.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites: Find out some natural methods you can use to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

How Insecticides Harm You: If it can kill insects, doesn’t it make sense that it might harm you too? Get a clue.

Are Pesticides the Cure or the Cause for West Nile Virus?: Find out why the pesticides being used to fight the West Nile Virus may do more harm than good.

Blowing the Whistle on West Nile: The pesticides being used to prevent West Nile Virus pose a much greater health hazard than the virus itself.

Five Ways to Protect Your Kids This Summer: Learn the five most important precautions you need to take this summer to ensure your child’s safety and find out what to do in the event your child experiences an accident.

Controversial Pesticide Used in New Home Construction Halted by the EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency recently informed Dow Chemical Co. that they would no longer be able to sell the controversial pesticide Dursban used in new homes. Learn what this means for your health.

Reports From Midwest Indicate Possibly Massive Bird Die-Off: West Nile seems to have affected my home state of Illinois significantly, but is it really West Nile that is killing the birds and people?

 

The #Dangers of #DEET & How You Can #Safely Repel #Mosquitoes Instead | See Pesticide Alternatives to #Deet

What is Fox News-doing?  hazards of deet In 1998, the US EPA made it illegal for any product containing DEET…

The Hazards of DEET  

Many people’s response to fears about West Nile Virus (WNV) and the normal
annoyance of mosquito bites is to slather on the insect repellent,  especially on their children. The most common choice is a DEET based repellent. A study released last summer showed some DEET based products to be the most effective, in that they lasted longer than other products. But DEET based repellents aren’t just hazardous to mosquitoes. From a human health point of view, when mosquito bites are more of a nuisance than a serious health threat, choosing a botanical based repellent makes more sense.

DEET is a registered pesticide. DEET is short for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). It is a member of the toluene chemical family. Toluene is an organic solvent used in rubber and plastic cements and paint removers. DEET is absorbed through the skin and passes into the blood. The Medical Sciences Bulletin, published by Pharmaceutical Information Associates Ltd. reports, “Up to 56% of DEET applied topically penetrates intact human skin and 17% is absorbed into the bloodstream.” Blood concentrations of about 3 mg per litre have been reported several hours after DEET repellent was applied to skin in the
prescribed fashion. DEET is also absorbed by the gut.

The most serious concerns about DEET are its effects on the central nervous
system. Dr. Mohammed Abou-Donia of Duke University studied lab animals’
performance of neuro-behavioural tasks requiring muscle co-ordination. He found that lab animals exposed to the equivalent of average human doses of DEET performed far worse than untreated animals. Abou-Donia also found that combined exposure to DEET and permethrin, a mosquito spray ingredient, can lead to motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction.

An emergency medicine bulletin notes that DEET may have significantly greater toxicity when combined with ethyl and isopropyl alcohols and freon which are components of some DEET repellents.  In 1998, the US EPA made it illegal for any product containing DEET to make any child safety claims.  Products with DEET are required to carry instructions that they should not be used at all for children under 6
months.  Additional required warnings state that for children 6 months to 2 years, only concentrations of less than 10% DEET should be used, and only once a day. For children from 2 -12 years old, only concentrations under 10% should be used, and repellents should not be applied more than 3 times a day.

For adults, Health Canada has now banned products with DEET concentrations
over 30%, citing health risks and evidence that increasing the percentage does not do much more to repel insects. Health Canada has also banned two in one products which combine sunscreen and DEET, saying  they create the potential for people be exposed to too much DEET. The ban does not take effect until December 2004, so consumers may want to be careful not to pick up combination products still on store shelves.

Products containing DEET are now required to carry labels which specify:

-Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
-Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
-Do not allow young children to apply this product.
-After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
-Do not use under clothing.
-Do not spray in enclosed areas.

Experts recommend that if using DEET, its best to wear long sleeves and long pants, when possible, and apply repellent to clothing rather than skin to reduce exposure. They state DEET based products should only be applied sparingly; saturation does not increase efficiency. DEET repellents should not be inhaled.  Repellent-treated clothes should be washed, or kept outside living areas to reduce exposure. Following all these precautions reduces risk, but does not eliminate it.

There are a number of effective, less toxic insect repellents available. They need to be applied more frequently than DEET based repellents, but they do not carry the same health risks.  Two botanical repellents which performed particularly well in a Florida study were Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Lotion Insect Repellent ( also marketed as FiteBite Plant Based Insect Repellent) which protected for 120 minutes, and Bite Blocker for Kids, a 2% soybean oil formula, which was effective for 95 minutes.  Citronella products in the study provided about 30-40 minutes of protection.

Pharmacist Peter Ford in Moncton compounds two pesticide-free insect repellents: GUB lotion, which is vanilla based and well tolerated by chemically sensitive people, and The Citronella Spray. Great Ocean Natural Foods in Halifax stocks a selection of repellents based on essential oils including citronella, teatree and eucalyptus. Citronella, teatree and eucalyptus are volatile oils and may trigger reactions in some people, particularly the chemically sensitive. Bug shirts or hats are an excellent,
non-toxic method of protection.

Back yard mosquito control tips: Mosquito coil smoke contains about 70 different volatile organic compounds including allethrin, phenol, benzene, toluene and xylene, all quite toxic especially when burned and inhaled. Using yellow outdoor light bulbs which do not attract insects can help reduce mosquito populations at night.  Another option is to use a fan when there is little wind since mosquitoes are not strong flyers. Planting mosquito repelling plants like lemon balm, catnip, basil and lemon geraniums around outdoor sitting areas and encouraging mosquito predators like bats and dragonflies can help reduce mosquito populations.

 

What is #Fox #News-doing?  #hazards of deet In 1998, the US EPA made it illegal for any product containing #DEET…

49 pregnant women with Zika in New York City; Mayor urges action

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday joined city and health officials to demand that Congress take decisive action to combat Zika and provide funding needed to adequately respond to the virus in the U.S.

Officials say 49 pregnant women have tested positive for Zika in New York City since April, and one baby has been born with microcephaly due to the mosquito-borne virus. Overall, more than 3,400 at-risk pregnant women have been tested under the city’s Zika action plan.
Most people who tested positive in the nation’s largest city were infected while traveling to Zika-affected areas, with a small minority getting it via sexual transmission.

De Blasio said the city has committed $21 million to protect New Yorkers from Zika, and the group urged Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency funding.

Federal health officials say there have been 420 Zika cases in New York City and 530 in the state.

To reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the Zika virus, the city health department will spray in certain Manhattan and Queens neighborhoods this week.

From 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, pesticide will be sprayed from trucks. The neighborhoods include:

Manhattan: Fort George, Inwood, Sherman Creek, Sugar Hill, Washington Heights. Bordered by Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the north; Harlem River to the east; West 155th Street to the south; and Hudson River to the west. Parts of 10032, 10033, 10034, 10039, 10040

Queens: Auburndale, Bayside, Corona, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Murray Hill, Pomonok, Queensboro Hill. Bordered by Long Island Rail Road, Delong Street, Sanford Avenue, Kissena Boulevard, Holly Avenue, 46th Avenue, 157th Street, 33rd Avenue to the North; Francis Lewis Boulevard to the East; 48th Avenue, Fresh Meadow Lane, Long Island Expressway to the South; and Grand Central Parkway to the West. Parts of 11354, 11355, 11358, 11361, 11364, 11365, 11367, 11368
The spraying also is aimed at reducing the risk of the West Nile virus.

The city health department said in a release that it remains “cautiously optimistic that Zika virus will not be found in mosquitoes in New York City.”

Some precautions to minimize direct exposure:
— Stay indoors during spraying.
— Air conditioners may remain on, but to reduce exposure, set the air conditioner vent to the closed or recirculating position
— Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas
— Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water.

 

#pregnant #women with #Zika in #NewYork #City; #Mayor urges #Congressional action

 

 

Top 15 Cities reporting Deadly Bed Bugs

The top 15 cities* reporting bed bugs this year are:

  1. Detroit, Mich.
  2. Philadelphia, Pa.
  3. Cleveland-Akron, Ohio
  4. Los Angeles, Calif.
  5. Dayton, Ohio
  6. Chicago, Ill.
  7. Columbus, Ohio
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
  10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.
  11. Denver, Colo.
  12. Toledo, Ohio
  13. Oklahoma City, Okla.
  14. Baltimore, Md.
  15. New York, N.Y.

Sending Kids 2 University or College to die? |Bedbugs transmit Deadly Chagas |WOIO: Ohio universities worst?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) – Ohioans beware, because a new study has found several cities rank among the top in the nation for reports of bed bugs.

The study, from Terminix, which provides pest control services, looked at the number of bed bug service requests received at universities across the country. They found that the Cleveland-Akron area is number three in the country for reporting bed bugs, just below Detroit and Philadelphia.

Four other Ohio cities made the list, higher than any other state. Dayton clocked in at number five, Columbus at number seven, Cincinnati at number eight and Toledo at number 12.

“College campuses are very interconnected, making a single infested futon a significant threat,” said Tom Jeffords, regional technical specialist at Terminix.

Terminix recommends college students buy a bed bug-proof mattress or mattress pad and double checking your room on move-in day to help prevent an infestation. They also suggested checking used textbooks  and clothing before bringing them into your new home.

The organization also recommends against used or discarded furniture, which can often have bed bugs, and says not to leave clothes on the floor or let your backpack come in contact with others to reduce the chance of bed bugs finding their way inside.

“By carefully following our tips, students can beat the bite and focus on their studying– or whatever,” said Jeffords.

Sending #Kids 2 #University or #College to #die? |#Bedbugs transmit #Deadly #Chagas |WOIO: #Ohio universities worst?

Pesticide Sprayed Over Wynwood Is Banned in Europe, May Also Harm Fetuses

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tried to spray naled, a controversial pesticide used to kill mosquitoes, over Puerto Rico to stamp out the Zika virus last month, the island’s residents erupted. San Juan’s streets filled with protesters, and Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro García Padilla forced the CDC to return its shipments of the chemical.

But when Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control experts chose to drop that very same pesticide from planes over Wynwood to combat Zika last week, Floridians barely made a peep despite the fact that naled is banned in the European Union. That region’s regulators claim the pesticide poses an “unacceptable risk” to human health.

Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CDC say naled can be safely sprayed in small amounts to kill mosquitoes, some American environmental scientists disagree and say spraying the chemical over a populated area ranges from a “necessary evil” to downright irresponsible.

In a dark twist, some studies have even shown that the family of chemicals naled belongs to can harm a growing fetus — which means the county could be harming the very same pregnant residents it’s trying to protect.

On August 4, Dr. Elvia Melendez-Ackerman, an environmental biologist at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras campus, sent City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado a letter demanding Miami stop spraying naled. (The letter should have gone to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, because the county handles mosquito-control spraying.)

“We all have heard of the intention to fumigate Miami with naled, and with all due respect, we are starting to see in Florida a repeat of what we went through: Public servants not reading the science that is in front of them,” writes Melendez-Ackerman, who was active in the movement to ban naled in Puerto Rico.

In an interview with New Times, she criticizes both the U.S. government and Miami-Dade County for rushing to kill mosquitoes without thinking enough about the long-term costs of aerial naled spraying.

“People don’t know all the risks,” she says. “This degrades into a carcinogen. It’s in the EPA documents.”

However, a county Mosquito Control spokesperson tells New Times the county abides by a host of state and federal spraying guidelines and is doing all it can to keep citizens safe. The county sprays only about an ounce of naled per acre of land, spokesperson Francisco Calderon says.

“Miami-Dade County has been using naled safely for approximately four decades,” Calderon says via email. (The county has mostly used that pesticide in agricultural fields, though, rather than in urban areas.) “We only use it during aerial spraying operations, not handheld or truck spraying, per CDC and [Florida Department of Health] recommendations. The insecticide is registered for use by both the EPA and [Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services]. It can only be applied by a licensed professional, which is what we do.”

Though the EPA says naled is harmful only in large doses, the chemical is part of a controversial family of insecticides called “organophosphates,” which some environmentalists say pose massive health risks to humans, animals, and plant life. A 2013 National Geographic report called organophosphates “common but deadly” and said they attack the human nervous system the same way chemical weapons such as sarin gas attack. The pesticides were blamed for killing at least 25 children in India that year. At acute levels, the pesticide stops a person’s neurotransmitters from working. 

“It’s a painful way to die,” Emory University exposure scientist Dana Boyd Barr told the magazine. “You end up suffocating because you are essentially paralyzed.”

A 2010 study said organophosphates are responsible for killing 200,000 people a year in developing countries.

Though the EPA maintains naled can be sprayed safely in small doses, the organization has asked farms and governments to “voluntarily eliminate” organophosphate usage. The agency also bans organophosphates from home use. Also, naled is specifically banned from use in flea collars out of fear that children will come into contact with the pesticide.

Also frightening, a 2010 Emory University study showed that prenatal and early-childhood exposure to organophosphates can increase the risks of some neurological disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

For years, the Washington, D.C.-based National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has called for reductions in organophosphate spraying. In Miami’s case, the group says that although the seriousness of the Zika epidemic might warrant emergency naled usage, the county needs to do more to let citizens know the chemical could cause poisoning or lead to long-term health effects.

“County officials haven’t been giving complete warnings to people,” Dr. Jennifer Sass, a senior NRDC scientist, tells New Times. “I’ve seen some literature that said ‘no extra precautions are needed’ if they’re spraying. But we want people to take extra precautions to avoid coming in contact with residue.”

According to a county spokesperson, Miami-Dade Mosquito Control sprayed naled twice via plane in the past week — Thursday, August 4, and Sunday, August 7. The county plans to spray the pesticide again, this Sunday, August 14. (Planes have also sprayed a “safer” chemical called “Bti,” which kills mosquito larva.)

The Zika “active transmission zone” includes hundreds of residential homes and apartments.

“When they’re spraying, close your windows, and turn off your air conditioning to avoid drawing the pesticide into your house,” Sass says. “Make sure you take children’s toys inside, and wipe things down before you let people contact them again, especially a slide, barbecue, or pet food bowls, and especially things that come in contact with kids.”

Not all scientists agree that care should be taken during the spraying, though. Dr. Naresh Kumar, an environmental scientist at the University of Miami, says he thinks people are blowing the risks “out of proportion.” Though he agrees that massive exposure to naled is harmful, he says virtually all pesticides are a form of poison and can never be truly administered “safely.” He adds that exposure to pesticides such as naled could cause lower birth weights in infants.

“What do you want to take,” he says, “a baby with a birth defect or a baby with a low birth weight? Everything comes at some cost. There is no safe solution. One has to weigh the costs and the benefits.”

But last month, the Puerto Rican government rejected that argument.

Zika has hit the U.S. commonwealth harder than almost any other area on Earth. But when the CDC announced plans to spray the island with naled, residents protested en masse. The CDC argued that mosquitoes there had become too resistant to “safer” pesticides and, according to the New York Times, clandestinely shipped naled to the island. Residents found out only after a local TV station reported on the shipment.

Given the island’s long, complicated history with U.S. colonization, Puerto Rican officials were incensed. Governor García Padilla accused the CDC of “blackmail” before returning the pesticides. The CDC then apologized.

Melendez-Ackerman, who emphatically fought naled usage in Puerto Rico, says Miamians should not sit idly by while planes soar overhead wafting organophosphates into the air.

“I am not asking you to trust me,” she says. “I am just asking you to read. There is so much science out there, so many studies, but people just refuse to read them.”