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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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