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  • Myths and Facts of Mosquito Control

    By: Dr. Mark Clifton, Research Entomologist at Collier Mosquito Control District

    This article appeared in the Naples Daily News on September 25, 2016. 

    Recently there has been concern regarding the use of Dibrom (Naled) in the fight against the mosquito that carries the Zika virus. While we understand the apprehension that Floridians are experiencing, the Collier Mosquito District (CMCD) wanted to ease those concerns by dispelling some of the myths surrounding Dibrom.

    Myth #1: Dibrom is a new material brought in to fight against the mosquito that carries Zika.

    Fact#1: The CMCD has used formulations of Dibrom for more than 20 years. It was originally registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1959. With a national track record of 57 years and knowledge that residents may be exposed to Naled from mosquito control, the EPA has made the following statement, “…Individuals in residential areas can be exposed to Naled as bystanders from mosquito/black fly control application, however, EPA does not have risk concerns for these individuals.”

    Myth #2: The CMCD has increased the number of aerial treatments to target mosquitoes that carry Zika.

    Fact#2: The CMCD has not increased the number of treatments made at all in response to the Zika virus. Treatments for mosquitoes are only made after inspections reveal high populations of mosquitoes. This rainy season has seen abnormally high numbers of mosquitoes since January. Collier County saw no real dry season or cold fronts that would naturally reduce mosquito populations.

    Myth #3: Aerial treatments are not effective against the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

    Fact#3: While it is true that the mosquitoes that transmit Zika can be active in the daytime, they are also quite active in the late evening. Research from our partners around the state has shown that aerial treatments with Dibrom do work in reducing populations of the mosquito that carries the Zika virus.

    Myth #4: Naled is banned in Europe.

    Fact #4: Naled is not “banned” in Europe. When a manufacturer wants to win approval for a product many studies and product evaluations must be done. Sometimes the expense of conducting these studies outweighs any potential profits that can be made. Amvac, the manufacturer of Dibrom, declined to conduct the studies necessary to win approval in the European Union. Therefore the registration for Naled was withdrawn in the EU and the product can’t be sold.

    According to the EU, “For the active substance Naled, the notifier [Amvac] informed the Commission on 2 December 2004 that it no longer wished to seek the inclusion of that substance in Annex I to Directive 91/414/EEC. Consequently, that active substance should not be included in that Annex and Member States should withdraw all authorizations for plant protection products containing Naled.”

    Myth #5: Naled is a carcinogen.

    Fact #5: The EU addressed this concern in a registration document from 2011 when they stated, “…it is not expected that Naled is a site-of-contact mutagen and/or carcinogen.” The EPA also addressed the carcinogenic potential of Naled when it stated, “The Agency has determined that there is evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans for Naled…”  After 57 years of use in both food and mosquito control, no clear linkage to cancer in humans has ever been described.

    Myth #6: Some risks to people from exposure to Naled are “unknown” and not included in EPA registration documents.

    Fact#6: According to the EPA, “[The] EPA has estimated the exposure and risks to both adults and children posed by ULV [Ultra Low Volume] aerial and ground applications of Naled. Because of the very small amount of active ingredient released per acre of ground, exposures were below an amount that might pose a health concern. These estimates assumed several spraying events over a period of weeks and also assumed that a toddler would consume some soil and grass in addition to skin and inhalation exposure.”

    Myth # 7:  The risks from Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases are extremely small while the risks from Naled are great. 

    Fact# 7:  In 2006, researchers attempted to compare the risks from both Naled and West Nile Virus and found that the risk from West Nile virus greatly exceeded the risks from exposure to Naled.  They state, “…perceptions that human-health risks from the insecticides used to control adult mosquitoes are greater than the risks from WNV [West Nile Virus] currently cannot be supported by current scientific evidence.”

    Why does Collier Mosquito Control use Dibrom / Naled and not something else?

    The answer is simple. It works very well to control the abundant mosquitoes the landscape of South Florida is capable of producing. Through controlled aerial treatments, the product can be used in exceedingly small amounts to kill mosquitoes, while not exceeding risk thresholds set by the EPA for humans. Naled does not bioaccumulate in food chains and it degrades more rapidly than any other control material available. With nearly six-decades of safe usage, we know that this product effectively protects the public health by reducing the mosquito population and thus, reducing mosquito-borne diseases.

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