Pesticides should be use sparingly | Letter

Apr 16, 2017

I totally agree with the recent letter from Rebecca J. Wolfe (“Cartoon on yard toxins was timely," April 6).

As a retired professional biologist specializing in entomology who worked at a state university in the Southwest for over 30 years, I am well aware of the problems of urban pesticide use.

Pesticides, if applied at all, should be always be used very sparingly (the least is best pesticide strategy), and should never be applied for uses other that listed on the label.

In fact, it is illegal to use pesticides for purposes not included on the label. Pesticides can easily contaminate nearby streams, ponds and lakes if applied in the wrong way and, here in the Pacific Northwest, one is almost never far from such bodies of water.

As a professional entomologist, I was assigned the writing of the state Future Farmers of America contest in New Mexico. As part of that activity I had to include questions on how to apply pesticides correctly.

I tested over 2,000 teenagers from rural parts of the state over 30 years of contests. Unfortunately, most people do not know or understand proper protocols when applying pesticides, especially around the home and yard.

As an entomologist, I got calls regularly from people asking me questions about chemical treatment, although I was primarily involved in biocontrol and basic research. These included a woman who treated her entire house with Chlordane because she heard that the government was going to ban it.

Another person treated their entire house, including the furniture, with Kelthane (a industrial strength miticide), under the mistaken impression that they were infested with invisible mites.

Most people are not that delusional, but in a world where are water, air, soil and wildlife are threatened, it is vitally important to avoid such dangerous chemicals as much as possible, use them sparingly when actually needed and avoid contaminating runoff.

David B. Richman


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