Aerial Naled Spray Over South Dade Scheduled Monday Morning Before Dawn

Aerial Naled Spray Over South Dade Scheduled Monday Morning Before Dawn
Photo by Teo / Flickr
click to enlarge PHOTO BY TEO / FLICKR
Photo by Teo / Flickr
A major study released this month warned that fetuses and babies who come in contact with naled, the hotly debated organophosphate pesticide Miami-Dade County uses to kill mosquitoes, could actually develop motor-skill issues as they get older. The study adds to the growing pile of research that suggests organophosphate pesticide exposure can cause motor-skill issues: Multiple studies over years have shown that Florida farmworkers who came in regular contact with organophosphates (which basically work like extremely low-grade versions of sarin gas) developed vision issues and problems with fine-motor-skills.

Despite this, the county and state say naled is still the most effective pesticide they can use to quickly knock down mosquito infestations. In fact, the county's Department of Solid Waste Management says its planes will spray more naled over huge portions of southern Miami-Dade County early this Monday morning. The planes could fly anywhere from 12:01 a.m. Monday, through 5 in the morning.

The county says it's not spraying to knock down Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus and other tropical diseases — instead, the government is just spraying to kill the Black Salt Marsh mosquito population, which swarms this time every year in South Florida. Those bugs are mostly just annoying.

According to a map the county has released, coastal communities including Homestead, Florida City, the Redlands, West Kendall, Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coral Gables, and the City of Miami:
Miami-Dade County
The area scheduled to get fogged with insecticides is virtually identical to the county's last scheduled spraying mission, which was originally planned for Thursday, June 15, before poor weather delayed the mission.

Independent pesticide experts have told New Times that people living under the spray zones should remain indoors while the planes fly overhead, and pets and children's toys should be brought inside as well. It's best to wipe down any equipment that stayed outside during the spray mission afterwards.

Given the fact that aerial spraying kills bees, butterflies, other pollinators, and can kill fish and birds, in addition to harming humans, numerous environmentalists have objected to the pesticide's use. Naled is also banned in Europe due to what regulators there dubbed an "unacceptable risk" to human health.

The City of South Miami is backing a plan to test out the bacteria Wolbachia, which can kill off future generations of Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said that a vaccine is likely the best way to inoculate Miami-Dade against Zika, but it will likely take researchers a handful of years to develop a working version.

A different organophosphate (which Miami-Dade does not spray aerially over towns) is also in the news this week: The Environmental Protection Agency had planned to ban an organophosphate called chlorpyrifos, which is also demonstrably harmful to children. The EPA then backed off that plan after President Trump's EPA Director, Scott Pruitt, had a closed-door meeting with Dow Chemical, which manufactures the pesticide.

Miami-Dade County is tallying up any thoughts or complaints about the spraying — send them a note at dswm@miamidade.gov.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.