The Caribbean daily Acento is reporting that large numbers of people protested the arrival of the insecticide Naled on the island of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico's governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, returned to the island on a plane full of the chemical, which has been linked to increased aggression and not thoroughly tested on humans.
|The people refuse to be guinea pigs. Acento|
Cruz María Nazario, an epidemiologist, told El Nuevo Dia that the Center for Disease Controls had misused studies in order to "terrorize the population and justify the unjustifiable" in promoting the dispersal of Naled.
The Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, went as far as accusing Governor Garcia Padilla of "environmental terrorism," promising to fight in court against the use of Naled, while others are encouraging pregnant women to refuse fumigation attempts in their homes.
César Miranda, Secretary of the Department of Justice on the island, joined in protests against plans to use Naled, asking that Governor Garcia Padilla return the US commonwealth's supply back to the US mainland, citing that the use of such a dangerous chemical constituted a graver threat than the Zika virus it was meant to fight, since it threatens more than just the unborn.
According to the CDC, Puerto Rico not only plans to engage in aerial spraying, but will implement an "integrated vector management approach," which will also rely on localized use of Naled.
The CDC itself admits in medical legalese that Naled can cause asthma attacks if the spraying is not done correctly, and that it breaks down into dichlorvos as it degrades.
In 1997, the US Department of Health and Human Services decried that dichlorvos could enter the bloodstream through inhalation, from where it was carried to every organ in the body, with the chemical having serious effects on acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for brain and nerve function.
Most worryingly, the Department of Health admitted that rats exposed to high levels of dichlorvos died within 3 days, and that they did not know exactly how much dichlorvos was required to cause deleterious health effects in humans, since no experiment had been conducted on live people, although it was admitted that Naled could definitely cause breathing to stop and death.
In one frightening incident, two pesticide workers died after failing to promptly wash dichlorvos from their skin, though it was not certain how much they were exposed to.
Today, the CDC merely writes that there is no evidence that Naled causes cancer, but the EPA calculated that the breakdown products could result in higher rates of cancer in a population if it makes its way to people's drinking water.
Although the risk to humans is debatable, and perhaps not as severe as Zika itself, there is no debate that Naled kills bees outside of their hives. As bees are already highly threatened, even a small risk of exposing them to Naled represents an existential threat to the entire ecosystem of Puerto Rico, and particularly to many of the crops grown by humans.
Even if Naled only affects a fraction of Puerto Rico's bees, it could very well exacerbate the island's financial troubles as the farming sector loses its pollinators.