2008-04-10 / Editorial

Time to stop dumping pesticides into our bay


There's frightening news on page one of the Press this week. A pesticide endorsed by the state to kill mosquito larvae could also be killing the lobsters in Narragansett Bay.

The pesticide, called Altosid, is dumped into the storm drains in communities around the bay. By killing the mosquitoes, the state hopes to reduce our risk of contracting deadly diseases possibly carried by the mosquitoes.

But the pesticide travels downstream to Narragansett Bay. The end result appears to be that the lobster population is threatened by shell disease and declining birth rates. We may also be poisoning ourselves.

One expert quoted in this week's story likened the situation to that of Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring" which was first published in 1962. Her book detailed the use of the pesticide DDT and its terrible impact on our fragile ecosystem. Our national emblem, the Bald Eagle, faced extinction.

In addition to threatening birds and animals worldwide, the DDT had entered our food supply. The pesticide was blamed for developmental problems in children.

"Silent Spring" helped create public awareness and DDT was ultimately banned. Only in recent years have some of the endangered species rebounded.

We know little about this latest pesticide threat and its impact on our local fisheries. We know even less about its effect on humans who consume shellfish and fish.

The state should seek alternative methods of controlling mosquitoes and immediately suspend the use of Altosid. The risk to our environment and to ourselves is too great.

- Jeff McDonough

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