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Manufacturer Responds To Concerns Over Use Of Pesticide Naled; Spraying Scheduled In Broward

Dozens of people protested officials' decision to use Naled against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus in Miami Beach in September 2016.
Kate Stein
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A chemical used for mosquito control in South Florida has been the source of controversy in recent weeks, after  a study showed it could be linked to developmental delays in infants.

In large doses -- much larger than the one to two tablespoons per acre used for mosquito control -- the pesticide  Naled can cause muscle spasms, seizures and severe neurological and respiratory problems.

But a representative for the main company that provides Naled to South Florida mosquito control departments says when it's used following the guidance set forth by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled is a safe and highly effective means of mosquito control.

Brian Maddox represents AMVAC, which makes the Naled-containing pesticide Dibrom.

"It’s a matter of relative risk," Maddox said "What’s really worthwhile is to learn more about each of those complex risks so that you that can come to your own conclusion about whether it’s a sensible tradeoff. But it should be based on science. And it should be also based on what regulatory authorities have done."

Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) recommended Naled -- in conjunction with an organic pesticide -- to kill the mosquitoes that were carrying Zika in South Florida. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved Naled for controlling black salt marsh mosquitoes, which don’t transmit diseases to humans but are aggressive biters.

But Naled isn’t approved in the European Union. Maddox says that’s because AMVAC did not pursue an application to have it registered for use there. He says there aren’t as many mosquitoes in Europe  as in the U.S., and aerially spraying insecticides for agriculture or mosquito control just isn’t that common.

"There's no market there," he said. "To get the product approved in any market is a very costly endeavor. And AMVAC’s not a huge company."

The EPA is currently conducting a routine review of its guidance on Naled. Revisions, if there are any, will be available for public comment by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, Broward officials have responded to requests for more aerial spraying. County mosquito control plans to spray Naled over parts of Weston on Friday and Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines on Saturday. That's after some town leaders and residents complained that a surge of black salt marsh mosquitoes has made it impossible to go outdoors without being immediately swarmed and bitten.

The spraying will be conducted between 4 and 6:30 a.m.

This post has been updated with information about aerial spraying scheduled for this weekend in Broward County.

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Manufacturer Responds To Concerns Over Use Of Pesticide Naled; Spraying Scheduled In Broward

Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.