Woman wants to stop spraying of malathion

June 29, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

A Saltworks woman who suffers from ailments caused by malathion wants county and Annapolis residents to ask Anne Arundel officials to end the state contracts that allow the pesticide to be used to spray mosquitoes.

Ruth Berlin, 45, has organized a meeting for 7:30 tonight at the Annapolis Landing Marina. A representative of the Rachel Carson Council of Chevy Chase, an environmental group, will be among the people discussing the potential hazards of the pesticide.

Ms. Berlin said she became critically ill about four years ago when she was living in Los Angeles and malathion was being sprayed to control the Mediterranean fruit fly.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture sprays statewide and took over the county's spraying program last year.

This year, the county pays $50,000 for the program, and Annapolis pays $2,000. The state matches the funds.

In Anne Arundel, the state monitors and sprays mosquito-prone areas unless individuals and communities ask not to be sprayed, said Cyrus Lesser, chief of the Mosquito Control Section.

Spraying is done in Anne Arundel mostly for people's convenience; there has not been a case of mosquito-borne TC encephalitis in a person in the county in recent memory.

The state's last occurred in 1989 in Dorchester County, Mr. Lesser said.

"The cure is worse than the ill," Ms. Berlin said.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency regulates the use of malathion, though it has not concluded studies on it. Mr. Lesser said the dose his office uses is below what is available in hardware stores for home use.

The purpose of tonight's meeting is threefold: To disseminate information, to form a coalition opposing malathion spraying and get people to sign a letter asking the County Council to end spraying, Ms. Berlin said.

"I think it's a terrible idea to spray. It's a poison," said Steve Carr of Annapolis, an environmental consultant and Democratic candidate for delegate in District 30. "It kills insects; why would you assume that it does nothing to persons?"

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