Protect our children or stop the aerial spraying
Community Group says protect our children or stop the aerial spraying
West Aucklanders are appalled at the manner in which aerial spraying against the Painted Apple Moth is being conducted, and a community group is saying the aerial spraying should be halted now if schools and children cannot be protected.
The Painted Apple Moth Community Coalition (CC-PAM) says the community is still reeling in shock from the eleven hour aerial assault on October 23rd that saw children not only sprayed with pesticide both going to and from school, but trapped in closed classrooms for the whole day.
CC-PAM has issued an open letter and an updated spray risk report to schools detailing the specific exposure risks to young children, and challenging schools to ensure the young people in their care are protected.
Co-author and CC-PAM spokesperson, Hana Blackmore, says since their report was first issued in February 2002 the Government, MAF and Public Health have all ignored repeated requests for prudent and responsible action to protect the children.
"For instance official Public Health advice not to spray children on the way to school has been rejected by MAF on every term-time spray day, and even minimal advice for pupil protection has been ignored" says Hana.
The Exposure Risk Report details the information that MAF has not been telling the community, from the elevated health risks that children face from the pesticide, to spray drift and the problems associated with its penetration and persistence in school buildings.
"Children are not small adults - their biology is different" says co-author Meriel Watts. "They are more susceptible and vulnerable to all pesticides and chemicals, and this is not acknowledged in the health risk assessments."
Even more worrying says Dr Watts is the lack of toxicological studies for the inhalation of some of the chemicals in the spray, Foray 48B, and the effect on children of on-going low dose exposure that is being experienced in this aerial spray programme.
The authors say that with an eradication campaign that could continue for another three years, the issues must be addressed now. They conclude that in the final analysis, it may well be that the risks of the spray programme and the inability for the children to be protected, that the aerial operation should be halted.