February 11, 2000
Q: What kind of "allergy testing" has been done on Btk?
Extensive testing is required by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) before they grant approval of an insecticide in the U.S. but I don't know what specific tests were conducted on Btk.
I can tell you that Btk has a proven safety record —over many years — with people, pets, livestock, birds, fish, and other insects such as bees.
I can also tell you that the Gypsy Moth is now "permanently established" in 17 eastern U.S. states on more that 156 million acres after escaping from a single house in Medford, Massachusetts in 1869.
The Washington State Department of health (DOH) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) advise people with concerns about the exposure to their immune system to contact their physicians for specific advice.
Q: What symptoms should I look for from Btk?
I don't know of any symptoms you could look for that you could attribute to Btk.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture States on Page 5-1, Appendix G of their November 1995 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that the vertebrates [which include humans] are not susceptible to being harmed by Btk.
When applied according to the label instructions, Btk is a safe product according to the EPA and the WSDA.
DOH and WSDA also advises people with pre-existing health problems to remain indoors for at least 30 minutes following spray applications.
DOH and WSDA advises people with concerns about the exposure or their immune systems to contact their physician for specific advice.
(NOTE: To persons opposing the program, we initially don't say anything more than the above. If they claim people have had adverse reactions to aerial spraying of Btk in the past, we will tell them a small number of persons have reported -after aerial spraying - such health effects as mild skin reaction; eye, nose, and throat irritation; and hay fever. The DOH has investigated these complaints and been unable to determine whether these reactions were due to 1) Btk, 2) pollens, molds, or dust disturbed by helicopters, or 3) or were unrelated to the spraying.)
We advise individuals seeking current documentation on Btk to read the study prepared by the British Columbia Capital Health Region on December 31, 1999 of aerial spraying of Btk in the spring of 1999 over 51 square miles of southern Vancouver Island where 80,000 people reside. The study is available at website www.caphealth.org (click on "Medical Health Officer").
Q: What steps can I take to stop Btk spraying ?
We don't recommend you take any steps to stop Btk spraying.
The Gypsy Moth is one of America's worst pest insects, and WSDA's job is to keep the Gypsy Moth from becoming "permanently established" in Washington State.
To accomplish that task, WSDA is proposing the use of an effective insecticide with a prove safety record.
(NOTE: The two points we emphasize to those who are clearly opposed to the Gypsy Moth program and/or state they are going to shut our program down are: 1) The Gypsy Moth has done enormous damage to America's environment and economy in the past hundred years. 2) Btk is an effective insecticide with a proven safety record with people, pets, livestock, birds, fish, and other insects such as bees.)
Q: What laws does WSDA follow before treating a site?
All federal and state environmental laws
(NOTE: To persons opposing the program, we don't initially say anything more than the above. If they persist in wanting more information about what the laws require us to do, we tell them that written information about proposed treatments are made available at selected public libraries around the state for public review. We will tell them to call the Gypsy Moth Hotline for dates and locations of the written information. We don't use the names NEPA or SEPA in referring to the written information nor do we volunteer that they can make "written comments" on provisions of the program. The point we emphasize is that written documents on Btk's safety record and effectiveness is available for review.)
Q: Can you prove that Btk is a safe product?
One can never prove a product is absolutely safe in every instance.
However, many well-read people who support our program tell us a 50-year safety record is "sufficient proof" a product is safe.
The EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington State Department of health, and Washington State Department of Agriculture all believe Btk is a safe and effective insecticide.
Read Bugged in Ballard.