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[SPAM?:#] NoSpray Newz: NYC settles anti-pesticides lawsuit brought by No Spray Coalition


Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>


Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>


Sat, 28 Apr 2007 15:37:20 -0400





text/plain (491 lines)

No Spray Coalition
"Fighting Against Pesticides since 1999"

PO Box 739
Peck Slip Station
NYC, NY 10272-0739


City admits that pesticides may remain in the 
environment beyond their intended purpose and may cause adverse health effects


For seven years, the No Spray Coalition and other 
environmental groups have battled the City of New 
York in Federal Court in opposition to the 
Giuliani administration's massive and 
indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides, including Malathion.

On April 12, a federal judge signed a settlement 
agreement in which New York City admits that the 
pesticides sprayed may indeed be dangerous to 
human health as well as to the natural environment.

The settlement agreement states that, contrary to 
the City's prior statements, pesticides

- may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
- cause adverse health effects
- kill mosquitoes' natural predators
- increase mosquito resistance to the sprays, and
- are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

This settlement agreement is a tremendous victory 
for health advocates and a rebuff to the 
anti-environmental polices of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Thousands of New Yorkers were made seriously sick 
by the spraying. A number of members of the No 
Spray Coalition, including several of the 
plaintiffs, died from pesticide-related 
illnesses. Many suffer from Multiple Chemical 
Sensitivities (MCS) or Asthma caused or 
exacerbated by the spraying. We are very glad 
that the new City administration has to some 
degree acknowledged that pesticides are extremely 
dangerous to human health. They need to be 
rejected as a way of killing mosquitoes.

In particular, the use of insect repellents 
containing DEET should never be used, especially on children.

The settlement agreement stipulates that the City 
meet with the Coalition for two 3-hour sessions. 
We will be discussing that and other concerns with the City when we meet.

One plaintiff in the lawsuit, artist Robert 
Lederman, notes that in 1999 and 2000 then-Mayor 
Rudolph Giuliani and other City officials claimed 
that the spraying was "safe" and was used as "a 
last resort" in its effort to kill mosquitoes 
said to be vectors for West Nile encephalitis.

"This agreement represents the latest rebuff to 
the notion that Giuliani was a good Mayor," 
Lederman said. "In 1999 and 2000, while 
repeatedly spraying the population of NY with 
pesticides derived from Nazi-era nerve gasses, 
Giuliani appeared in daily press conferences 
claiming that the chemicals were completely 
harmless. The City of NY has now admitted that 
these chemicals are harmful, that they persist in 
the environment and that much more caution will 
have to be used if they decide to ever spray them again."

Attorneys for the No Spray Coalition -- Joel 
Kupferman, (NY Environmental Law and Justice 
Project, and National Lawyers Guild), and Karl 
Coplan and Daniel Estrin (PACE Environmental 
Litigation Clinic), announced that as part of the 
settlement the City agreed to pay $80,000 to five 
grassroots environmental and wildlife 
rehabilitation groups and meet with the 
plaintiffs in several sessions to review an 
extensive list of concerns that the Coalition 
provided. The Plaintiffs are not permitted, under 
the terms of the Clean Water Act, to receive a monetary settlement themselves.

The resolution of the lawsuit begins a new phase 
in our activities. In our letter of concerns to 
the City, which is officially attached to the 
lawsuit settlement and available for reading on 
our website, the No Spray Coalition seeks to win 
official approval for a proposed "Community Health and Environment Council."

Should the City approve this new Council, it would

- make recommendations on environmental health 
impacts of pesticide use and alternatives
- review and propose alternative, nontoxic control of mosquitoes.
- critique the city's official mosquito control plan
- offer new plans to replace adulticides with safe materials
- assess agents chosen with regard to interaction 
with all toxins in our living environment.

There is currently no testing of chemical or 
biological agents in combination, and these 
chemicals often have synergistic or cumulative 
impacts on health and the environment that fall 
below the officially designated danger zone when examined separately.

While we hope that the City would approve the 
proposal to establish the Community Health and 
Environmental Council, we recognize that it will 
probably take another prolonged struggle to 
achieve that, the next step in our fight to make 
the City accountable environmentally and 
health-wise to the people subjected to these toxins.

We expect that the terms of the Settlement 
Agreement will be especially helpful to those 
fighting against pesticide spraying elsewhere. 
Indeed, we consulted with many organizations not 
only in the U.S. but in Canada and Mexico as 
well, and we negotiated clauses in the Agreement 
with the needs of other locales in mind.

The No Spray Coalition initially attempted to get 
a Temporary Injunction to stop the city from 
massive spraying of pesticides on July 20th, 
2000. Over two days in a federal courtroom in 
Manhattan, expert witnesses provided riveting 
testimony concerning the dangers of 
organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides to 
public health and to the environment, as well as 
to the reckless nature in which the spraying was 
conducted. One witness had videotaped the spray 
trucks as they drove down 125th Street in Harlem 
spraying kids and pregnant women with pesticides; 
after the judge permitted this to be shown in 
court, it was aired on all the TV news channels. 
The lawsuit eventually was narrowed to the City's 
violations of the Clean Water Act, because 
citizens cannot sue over FIFRA; it went through 
various stages up to the Court of Appeals and is 
now ending, after seven years, with this settlement between the parties.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were:

No Spray Coalition
National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
Disabled in Action
Save Organic Standards - New York (by its president, Howard Brandstein)
Valerie Sheppard (Rest In Peace, Valerie!)
Mitchel Cohen
Robert Lederman
Eva Yaa Asantewaa.

Please go to website for full text of Settlement 
Agreement. (And please be patient with us. If it 
is not up on the website by the time you get there, it will be there shortly.)

VIA CREDIT CARD OR PAYPAL or go to and click on "Make a Donation" in the top left-hand corner.

hotline: 718-670-7110
email: [log in to unmask]
listserve: [log in to unmask] (you 
are welcome to join, share your knowledge and gain new insights)

Do You See What I See?
Photographer Laurie Tümer shows the hidden paths of pesticides

By Karin Kloosterman
01 Dec 2005

In a segment last fall, Good Morning America 
simulated pesticide exposure in a New York City 
classroom. Using a powder visible only under 
black light, the program showed how far chemicals 
could spread through an activity as simple as child's play.

The eye-opening exercise wasn't news to Laurie 
Tümer. The photographer has been making images 
that expose the presence of synthetic pesticides 
since 1998, when she suffered near-fatal 
poisoning after her New Mexico home was sprayed. 
While recovering, Tümer discovered a muse in the 
work of Richard Fenske, an environmental 
scientist at the University of Washington. Fenske 
uses fluorescent tracer dyes and ultraviolet 
light to demonstrate how pesticides can spread to 
agricultural workers' skin, even when protective gear is worn.

By spraying tracers on her shoes and walking 
through her garden, or superimposing dyes onto 
landscape-scale canvases, Tümer uses a similar 
technique to illustrate how and where pesticides 
travel. The result of her work, a growing 
collection she calls "Glowing Evidence," is at 
once startling and stunning -- she compares the 
patterns in it to constellations. Critics who've 
seen her images exhibited in Santa Fe have called 
them eerie, compelling, ingenious, and haunting.

Tümer's 25-year photographic career, including a 
current collaboration with a blind poet, has 
focused on "seeing the invisible," and was 
featured in a 2003 documentary of that name. But 
as work like hers becomes more visible, she says 
so-called political art is really nothing new. In 
fact, she traces her work to cave drawings. Like 
that ancient art form, Tümer says, her 
photographs are a forum for processing 
information, conveying dismay, and warning others.

Go to 
to see a gallery of Tümer's photographs.

- - - - - - - - - -
Karin Kloosterman, a freelance journalist and 
former entomologist from Canada, is currently 
based in Tel Aviv as a writer for Israel's 
Jerusalem Post. She has also contributed to 
Canada's National Post and National Geographic, 
and can write on topics from bugs to Bedouins.

October, 2006 (Adapted from Rachel’s Health and 
Democracy News, # 871, Sept. 7, 2006)


by William Crain and Junfeng Zhang

A new generation of synthetic turf is becoming 
popular in the U.S. The new brands are springier 
than the old AstroTurf and feel more like real 
grass. New York City is so attracted to the new 
synthetic turf that it is installing it in 79 
parks, often substituting it for natural soil and grass. (1)

However, the new artificial grass raises health 
concerns. In particular, most brands include 
recycled rubber pellets that could contain 
harmful chemicals. What’s more, we have observed 
that on many New York City fields, the rubber 
pellets are commonly present on the surface. When 
one of us (William Crain) was picking up some 
pellets by hand, a boy told him that after 
playing in the park, he finds the pellets in his 
shoes at home at night. Because the rubber 
pellets are much more accessible to children and 
athletes than we had supposed, we decided to 
analyze a sample for two possible sets of 
toxicants­polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and toxic metals.

We collected our first sample from a new A-Turf 
surface in Manhattan’s Riverside Park in May, 
2006. To gain information on the reliability of 
our results, we gathered a second sample in June, 
2006 from a different part of the park.

The PAHs were extracted in a Soxhlet apparatus 
with organic solvents. The metals were extracted 
by means of nitric acid with the aid of a 
high-efficiency microwave oven (Marsx Microwave). 
Both methods were used to estimate the maximum 
amounts of the chemicals contained in the bulk 
material (rubber pellets). The analyses were 
conducted at the Environmental and Occupational 
Health Sciences Institute of Rutgers University.

The PAH results for our first sample are listed 
as Sample 1 in Table 1, below. As the table 
shows, six PAHs exceeded the concentration levels 
that the New York State Department of 
Environmental Conservation (DEC) considers 
sufficiently hazardous to public health to 
require their removal from contaminated soil 
sites. (2) It is likely that all six PAHs are carcinogenic to humans. (3)

The PAH results for Sample 2 are also listed in 
the table. Although the concentration levels in 
Samples 1 and 2 varied somewhat, the results for 
Sample 2 replicated the finding that the 
concentration levels of the six PAHs are above 
the DEC’s tolerable levels for soil.

Table 1. Concentrations of PAHs (ppm*)

Sample 1                 Sample 2                 DEC
Turf                              Turf                Contaminated
Rubber Pellets    Rubber Pellets        Soil Limits

Benzo(a)anthracene 1.23     1.26     1.0

Chrysene 1.32     7.55     1.0

Benzo(b)fluoranthene 3.39    2.19     1.0

Benzo(a)pyrene 8.58    3.56     1.0

Benzo(k)fluoranthene 7.29    1.78     0.8

Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene 3.52    1.55    0.33

                * ppm = parts per million

The analyses also revealed levels of zinc in both 
samples that exceed the DEC’s tolerable levels. 
Lead and arsenic also were present, and many 
scientists believe that these metals should not 
be introduced into the environment at all.

We want to emphasize that the findings are 
preliminary. PAHs in rubber might not act the 
same way as in soil, and we do not yet have 
information on the ease with which the PAHs in 
these rubber particles might be absorbed by 
children or adults­by ingestion, inhalation, or 
absorption through the skin. However, the 
findings are worrisome. Until more is known, it 
wouldn’t be prudent to install the synthetic turf in any more parks.

We have informed the New York City Parks 
Department of our findings, but as far as we 
know, the Parks Department has not altered its 
plans to continue the installation of synthetic turf in numerous parks.


(1) New Yorkers for Parks. Spring, 2006. A New 
Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City’s Parks­Special Report.

(2) 6 NYCRR Subpart 375-1, General Remedial 
Program , Draft Revised June 14, 2006. Department 
of Environmental Conservation, Table 375-6.8 (a).

(3) International Agency for Research on Cancer 
(IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of 
Carcinogenic Risk to Humans, PAHs, Vol. 95, 2006.

Note on authors’ affiliations:

William Crain, Ph.D., is professor of psychology 
at The City College of New York and president of 
Citizens for a Green Riverside Park. [log in to unmask]

Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, Ph.D. is professor and 
acting chair, Department of Environmental and 
Occupational Health, the School of Public Health, 
the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New 
Jersey and Rutgers University. [log in to unmask]


We are pleased to note that in response to the No 
Spray Coalition's persistent suggestions, the 
Chair of the Brooklyn section of the NYC Dept. of 
Parks, Julius Spiegel, has told us that he will 
be sending out letters to all school principals 
concerning the City's herbiciding of the 
perimeters of all City parks and playgrounds.

The Parks Department says that it needs to spray 
because the City has cut personnel by more than 
70 percent, and there are not enough workers 
anymore to weed the sidewalks around the parks in any other way.

Of course, the position of the No Spray Coalition 
is that this cosmetic herbiciding with Monsanto's 
RoundUp and other toxins is unnecessary and 
should simply not be done. We will continue to pressure to achieve that end.

In the meantime, upon seeing the pretty yellow or 
green-dyed spraying -- the dyes put their to WARN 
people away from the area -- many children are drawn to it and play in it.

We are hopeful that principals will notify all 
students to stay away from the herbicided areas.


We are adding a number of new sections to the No 
Spray website and could use some volunteer help 
from folks who have website skills. In addition, 
we need help in simply going through the ton of 
mostly on-line material on this and related 
matters every day (much of it on our listserve, 
[log in to unmask] . Feel free to join it!).

If you would like to help select articles for 
placement on the website in one of these areas, 
or edit, forward and follow-up on items for 
NoSpray Newz, please write to [log in to unmask]


While we are very proud that our persistence and 
that of the wider community has resulted in 
prying loose from New York City $80,000 for five 
grassroots environmental and wildlife 
rehabilitation organizations as part of the 
settlement agreement, the final resolution of our 
lawsuit does not relieve the Coalition's 
all-volunteer participants of our large financial 
burdens. Please keep in mind that the plaintiffs 
in the lawsuit ourselves do not receive a cent from the settlement.

We've run this anti-pesticides venture all these 
years on our activists' shoestrings, accepting no 
corporate money; we've relied solely on the 
generosity of ecological activists such as 
yourself who understand the significance of what 
we are doing and the importance of continuing with that work.

We have, as you might expect, debts to repay. And 
we also are hoping to EXPAND our work, produce 
new literature, reach into new neighborhoods, 
participate in national and even international 
gatherings, expose the dangers of pesticides (and 
those who profit from poisoning the earth), and 
involve ourselves in related areas of struggle, 
such the fight against genetic engineering 
(directly related to pesticides), and the effort 
highlighted above to document the dangers of 
artificial/synthetic turf, which is becoming much 
more widespread (one ridiculous argument we've 
heard used by the industry is that ithe use of 
artificial turf will lessen the need to spray pesticides!).

Anything you can donate is greatly appreciated, 
and will be put to excellent use.

Please help us continue our work!

VIA CREDIT CARD OR PAYPAL or go to and click on "Make a Donation" in the top left-hand corner.

OR, send a check to

No Spray Coalition
PO Box 739
Peck Slip Station
NYC, NY 10272-0739

Thank You!

to report on) IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

[log in to unmask]

We will add them to the website -- we want the 
website to be useful for activists and 
researchers everywhere, not just in New York City 
-- and send them out as part of the next issues of NoSpray Newz.


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