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Miami Beach Residents Say They're Concerned About Aerial Pesticide Spraying

Miami Beach residents protested against aerial spraying of the pesticide Naled to control mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus.
Kate Stein
/
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Several hundred concerned citizens attended -- and often interrupted -- a heated, last-minute Miami Beach City Commission workshop to discuss use of the pesticide Naled to control mosquitoes that may carry Zika. They say they're worried the pesticide is more harmful than the birth defects that can be caused by the virus.

 

 

"I'm really scared about the ramifications of what could happen," said Sadie Kaplan, who protested outside the Miami Beach City Center with her four-and-a-half month old daughter Riley in her arms. To prevent Zika infections, "you can wear natural bug spray, cover up, try to not go out early in the morning or the evening.

 

"But with the [pesticide] spray, it's just going to blanket everything."

 

Experts at the workshop -- including representatives from the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control -- said Naled spraying is safe because the pesticide is delivered in extremely low concentrations when sprayed aerially, and also breaks down rapidly. But angry residents said they still have questions about specific numbers. Many in the audience also said they were frustrated to not have a say in the spraying decision.

 

 

"It should be our decision if we're exposed to it or not," said Steve Ehrlich, a Miami Beach resident and father of a 1-year-old.

 

When locally transmittedZikawas first discovered on Miami Beach about three weeks ago, officials had said they would not be able to spray aerially because of Miami Beach's high buildings. Now, they plan to sprayNaledover the ocean and use the wind to help disperse the pesticide over the city.

 

A few hours after the meeting, officials announced they had decided to delay Naled spraying one more day. Spraying is now scheduled from 5 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, with additional spraying during the next few weekends.

 

 

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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.