Should the US Ban the Highly Toxic Insecticide Naled? 

By Ian Teñido

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In the modern world, humans are constantly scanning through both ancient and conventional methods to develop solutions to their problems especially in healthcare. When humans health are threatened, humans stop at nothing not only in developing solutions but also in defending such solutions despite their glaring impacts to other aspects of life. Naled is such a solution. Naled is an insecticide that was registered in 1959 and since then nearly a million pounds of the organophosphate pesticide has been used in the control of mosquitoes. The insecticide is used primarily for the control of adult mosquitoes but it is also used in feed crops and has extensively been used in greenhouses. For mosquito control, ULV sprayers dispense small fine aerosol droplets that suspend in the air and eventually kill adult mosquitoes upon contact. This article looks keenly at the impacts Naled insecticide has.

Even today, just like several decades ago, gardeners and farmers face a common problem of mosquitoes and thus the need to develop and use a safe and effective insecticide not only to deal with the existing mosquitoes but also to reduce their chances of reproduction.  Naled, since its registration in 1959, has accordingly been the ideal attacker of adult mosquitoes; in fact it is classified as an ‘adulticide’. Normally it is applied by tracks or planes and it works by inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase which is an important enzyme in transmitting nerve impulses and without the enzyme, paralysis and death results.

Because of this very aspect of inhibition of AChE, Naled is naturally a menace to a wide range of environment. To start with, Naled has been studied to cause nausea, headaches and diarrhea in humans. In insects, it has been reported to cause their death; it should be noted that insects are an integral part of a diverse environment in a beneficial way and their death reduces not only the environmental stability and integrity but they also make the environment less adaptive to changing environmental health concerns.

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For instance, Honey Bees have been reported to be highly susceptible to Naled’s effects because it acts on their AChE the same way it does to mosquitoes. Both the Alkali and Alfalfa Bee species have been reported to die upon contact with Naled yet they are known to play an important role as both a diverse species and a pollinating agent. In addition, Naled kills wasps that lay eggs in several juvenile insects. Naled limits the diversity of all insect life because it barely selects out only mosquitoes but kills all that it comes into contact with. Furthermore, fishes like lake trout, cutthroat and catfish are affected by Naled due to its high levels of toxicity. The effect also spreads to birds with Canada goose laying fewer eggs after it inhales Naled. The effects of Naled touch on almost all life forms on earth.

The debate over the use of Naled has sprawled in the last two years when Zika virus became imminent in South America and some few reported cases in the US. Concerned environmental activists have been waging a war against the use of Naled, but the government has remained adamant over its use. I would say that while this debate takes new turns every other moment, it should be handled with care considering both its benefits and the risks it introduces in the environment. While at it, I support the use of Naled provided another better alternative is presently unavailable. While the impacts of Zika, Malaria and other diseases caused by different species of mosquitoes are real, the US government through its research institutions should ensure that the impacts of Naled to passive species like bees are minimized. Unless they come up with ways of preventing blanket of deaths of all insects, birds and even plants, pressure to ban Naled use will gain a larger momentum. The real issues must be addressed even as we want to control the menace caused by mosquitoes.

Risk Mitigation

In order to support a re-registration eligibility decision for Naled, the following risk mitigation measures are necessary: [EPA 738-F-02-007, 2002]

I. To mitigate risks to agricultural workers:

  • Require closed mixing/loading systems for all agricultural uses (except greenhouses and handheld application) and public health uses involving control of mosquitoes and black flies.
  • Require enclosed cabs for ground application or enclosed cockpits for aerial application, for all agricultural uses and public health uses involving control of mosquitoes and black flies.
  • Prohibit manual activation of hotplates.
  • Prohibit manual activation of ventilation equipment in greenhouses.
  • Delete backpack sprayers and hand-held foggers.
  • Delete the greenhouse heat/steam pipe painting use.
  • Delete use in apartments, motels, hotels and drive-in theaters.
  • Reduce the maximum application rate for use on almonds and peaches to 1.875 lbs ai/A and prohibit aerial use on almonds and peaches.
  • Prohibit ready to use formulation.
  • Delete wet and dry bait uses.
  • Delete spot treatment for cockroach control.
  • Prohibit human flaggers.
  • Establish 48 hour reentry intervals after application to field crops.
  • Establish 24 hour reentry intervals after application in greenhouses.

II. To mitigate risk to residents and children, the following measures are needed:

  • The sole manufacturer of pet collars (Sergeant’s) has requested voluntary cancellation of these uses.
  • Prohibit all residential uses either by resident or professional applicator. Use in residential areas by mosquito control districts would still be allowed.

III. To mitigate risk to non-target species:

  • Reduce application rates for control of black fly from 0.25 to 0.1 lbs/ai/A, and reduce rates on peaches and almonds from 2.8 to 1.875 lbs/ai/A.
  • Require buffer zones around permanent bodies of water to reduce runoff.
  • Establish spray setbacks to reduce spray drift for agricultural uses.

Article Download Link: Should the US Ban the Highly Toxic Insecticide Naled_Ian Tenido_PDF

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References

Myers, T. (2002). Naled for Mosquito Control. Retrieved on October 21st, 2016 from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

US EPA (2002). Naled Fact Sheet. EPA 738-F-02-007. Retrieved from https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/reregistration/fs_PC-034401_1-Jan-02.pdf.

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