Readers Red Flag Dibrom

The GUARDIAN posted a skeeter spraying story to give concerned readers a place to express their views on the chemical application currently being conducted by Ada County.

One reader told us her doctor and the Central District Health Dept. confirmed through blood tests she has been suffering from the West Nile Virus for three weeks, but is slowly recovering.
Ag Spray.jpg

A report from another reader–one we highly respect–presents information which may be worth following up with regard to spraying with Dibrom. We note the original data is 20 years old, but that should serve to provide more conclusive results about the nature of the chemical. Here is his report:

The following is from the chemical fact sheet found at the Cornell University Pesticide Management Education Program


“- Unique warning statements required on labels:
– The following environmental hazard statement must appear on the
manufacturing-use product labels:
– This product is toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, and
wildlife. Do not discharge into lakes, streams, ponds, or public
water unless in accordance with NPDES permit. For guidance,
contact your regional office of the Environmental Protection

This tells me that a NPDES permit is required if any of this stuff is discharged to waters of the US. I would suggest that people start calling the ADA commisioners asking if they have a NPDES permit for the spraying operation. I would also contact the EPA Boise office and ask if a permit has been issued.

Based on studies available to assess hazards to wildlife and aquatic
organisms, naled (dibrom) is characterized as very highly toxic to bees and
aquatic invertebrates. It is moderately to highly toxic to fish and
slightly toxic to upland game birds and waterfowl. Insufficient
data are available to assess the toxicity of naled to estuarine and
marine organisms.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA needs to follow up on this one.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. James Werntz, Director, Idaho Operations Office (EPA). 208 378-5746 and email address is [email protected]

    in case anyone else would like to contact him.

    Since I will not have time to telephone anyone in the morning, I have sent emails to Mr. Werntz, the Commishes, as well as the Gov’s office asking if the permit was obtained.

    I agree that the media needs to hop onto this one FAST. But it also would be nice if the media would listen to the what the people are saying in other places besides this blog. The cross section of the population represented here indicates to me that a lot of folks besides those in my circle have not been happy about the idea of spraying poison around the county.

    At least the Boise Guardian is here – hey, no more going out of town Dave!

  2. Dibrom (Naled) is among the organophosphates currently at the end of a 10 year review by the EPA to determine safety and efficacy. (http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/op/) These compounds were originally developed by the Germans in WWII as chemical weapons and include some of the most toxic substances around, including Sarin. Many of these substances have already been banned including Dursban and Diazinon. It is absolutely criminal for the County, State and media to repeatedly insist Dibrom is innocuous.

    There is an interesting overview by Nathaniel Hoffman with a link to growing list of municipalities that DO NOT spray here (http://www.newwest.net/index.php/city/article/10921/C108/L108 ).

    It is ironic to me that so many citizens here in Idaho identify themselves as conservative or libertarian yet seem accepting of dousing unwilling taxpayers with poisons of dubious efficacy without even a pretense of public input or adequate examination of alternatives. I am heartened to see so many people taking exception to the spraying itself and the manner in which it is being handled.

    I’m wondering if there really was too much actual wind, or did so many people complained that they decided the political wind had shifted.

    West Nile can be a potentially serious health problem, but aerial spraying is not an effective response. Alternatives include organic methods of early larvae control and (gasp) eliminating stagnant, standing water. If we’d stop trying to turn the Idaho desert into and English garden with millions of gallons of water, we might make some headway here.

    We just need to get over the ides that we can protect ourselves from every single naturally occurring organism through some chemical application. Think about the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent by Monsanto, Dow, Johnson & Johnson et. al to convince us that we simply can’t live without coating ourselves and every surface we’re exposed to with some kind of chemical compound, especially ones as nasty as organophosphates.

    However, the real problem with the spraying is the environmental impact. The MSDS repeatedly state Dibrom is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates and to not apply to wetland areas. We can’t kill off a bunch of critters without some kind of impact.

    Considering pigheaded Idaho approach to federal regulations, I would be surprised if anyone from the State or County bothered to get the EPA permit, if they even were aware one is required.

    Is it November yet?

  3. Another reader asked why folks hadn’t complained about the regular on ongoing ground spraying from the trucks. People in my neighborhood have been complaining to the County about this for some time. I called a few weeks ago after a neighbor told me they had come down our street. I can’t remember the name of the compound right now and can’t find my notes but…you CAN opt out of the ground spraying, or at least they tell you that you can. Ask that your name be put on a no-spray list and you’re supposed to be notified a certain time prior to spraying, as well as no spray being applied within a certain distance of your property. I’m going to post signs as well.

    I don’t know if this policy has changed since the onset of the WNV outbreak (if so, when and how) Here is the contact info and links for the County.

    Contact Ada County Commissioners
    200 W. Front St.
    Boise, Id 83702
    phone: (208) 287-7000
    fax: (208) 287-7009
    e-mail [email protected]

    Contact Mosquito Abatement
    5610 Glenwood St. Garden City, ID 83714.
    Office hours 7:30 am. till 5:00 pm
    (208) 577-4646

  4. Hey now, Here’s a thought. What’s the stuff they spray from the small trucks when slowly driving throught the neighborhoods?? They’ve been doing that for years….ineffectively I might add.

  5. Since the main concern with WNV is becoming seriously ill with encephalitis, take a look at an 11 year research project from the New York State Department of Health which shows that spraying actually increases the incidence of encephalitis carrying mosquitoes by 15 fold. So perhaps the spray trucks have been working … against humans.


    “The bottom line – every time a mosquito spray plane or truck sprays these proven genetically damaging pesticides (dibrom and malathion) over the area, they are very likely increasing the amount of subtle genetic damage in the mosquito population, and hence, increasing the number of mosquitoes with genetic flaws which could in theory, allow he encephalitis virus to take hold and grow more rapidly.”

    “Therefore, the chain of events which could explain the increases being seen in Brevard County’s Encephalitis Animal Monitoring program include:

    1) Mosquito Control sprays pesticides over the area – which causes –
    2) More subtle genetic flaws in mosquitoes – which causes –
    3) More mosquitoes now vulnerable to encephalitis – which causes –
    4) More mosquitoes developing encephalitis – which causes
    5) More bites on humans by encephalitis mosquitoes – which causes –
    6) More humans becoming infected with encephalitis.”

    “So while we are given warnings about wearing long sleeved shirts and plenty of bug repellant, there may now be one more prevention strategy we can use – Impose an immediate moratorium on pesticide spray operations until at least more research can be completed and concentrate our current energy and efforts on effective alternatives.”

  6. Why is it only mosquitos die from this spray. Logic says that if it is high enough concentration to effect mosquitos, why wouldn’t it have some kind of other effect?

  7. I was unfortunate enough to be outside watering my flower beds when the plane went over last night. I was under a tree and thought I might be safe enough. Then it came back, even closer. And then, sure enough, it circled over yet again, right above me. At this point, my wife made me get in the house and into the shower. Eerie. And smelly– like bad food being cooked in a dirty house. It’s too late for my neighborhood, but count me in the “no spray” contingent. I’d rather take my chances with West Nile.

  8. According to a fax from Ada County I was privy to receiving –

    “you ARE NOT (sic) likely to smell the pesticide”

    “Things to do during aerial spraying operations:
    Go about your regular routine
    Leave air conditioner units running
    There is no need to close windows
    At its rate of application, the pesticide is NOT harmful to humans, pets, birds, fish or other large insects.”

    Now my issues of the Stateman have all said to turn off the ac, close the windows and stay inside during the spraying.

    I hear the sounds of back-peddling……

    Ok, now if you want to buy that after everything you have read then close your eyes, cover your ear with your cell phone and keep on driving – and “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

  9. TG’s experience is odd indeed, since they scrubbed the overflights due to weather conditions. (Time to get Art Bell involved???)

    I’m no expert on pesticides. Nor do I want to be. This I know… we as a society agreeably expose ourselves to a myriad of ’em pretty much every day, since we prefer our apples without worms, etc., etc. Is the cure worse than the disease? Heck if I know.

    I’d like to see some T-shirts available:
    I survived West Nile Virus…
    And then I survived Ada County Spraying!

  10. bikeboy the headline was not the full news –

    “Crews sprayed for about 30 minutes in north Ada County before wind gusts and approaching thunderstorms prompted officials to call off the operation at 10 p.m. Areas sprayed include Hidden Springs, the North End, Downtown and the east side of Eagle.” TG must live in one of those areas.

  11. Bike – they scrubbed the overflights, but not before they hit Hidden Springs, Downtown, North End and Eagle, if you believe the local rag. I live on the bench above Anne Morrison Park, and they definitely sprayed our area right at 9:15. Today I am finding a variety of dead bugs all over the front walk, and a dead dove and a dead squirrel (not squished) in the street. The dove and the squirrel could be from West Nile, but the bugs? Scorched earth, anyone?

  12. Red vs Blue
    Aug 22, 2006, 2:13 pm

    Are these party-line skeeters? Looks like the North End must not have any mosquitoes. Do they think that mosquitos only live in certain areas of the city and county.

    Or did the Mayor just want the RED neighborhoods sprayed and not the BLUE ones? I wonder if you look at the election results if there is a correlation?

  13. Bikeboy, they did a half hours worth of spraying last night which I understood to include the north end since you doubt the veracity of TG’s post. Also I wonder why the City of Boise is so silent on the issue since it seems to be within its jurisdiction. The City has a sensible policy except for abdicating this spraying authority to the County.

    Also there are many of us educating ourselves on the harms of chemicals in our food and water supplies and we purposefully avoid such toxins in any amount. When you’ve watched a loved one die of cancer you can understand why many of us choose not to ignore the health risks associated with these chemicals. The prevalence of of organic gardening demonstrates the significant amount of the populace sharing the concern. You’ll note the County is avoiding registered organic farms but are doing nothing for the multitude of backyard organic gardeners.

    I would say that other folks uneducated on the topic are not so much “agreeing” to be exposed but are passively exposed due to their ignorance the topic, yours appearing to be willful. But the big issue here is that few of us had an opportunity to heard on the issue before the County chose to take this drastic, ineffective but expensive measure. Thanks HH for spurring us on to comment. I’m expecting little from my efforts with the County and would urge others to contact the City as well as the County in trying to address our concerns.

    Anyone get an answer on the NPDES permit?

  14. BoiseCitizen
    Aug 22, 2006, 4:13 pm

    Sorry, I live in the North End and they flew over my house,TWICE. I have had a hankerin to watch FAUX News today, hmmm, I wonder….

  15. Red v Blue – well, either the skeeters don’t travel much and they know where the infected ones live or they figure a lot of drift of the poison or they don’t spray over certain homes. Perhaps we need to look at the map and see where the Commishies fit in….

    Did anyone make it to the meeting at 1:30? I was not able to break away from work and I’ve not received any word. I have also not heard back from the EPA. Anyone call?

    I would still like to see this stopped.

  16. Strange!
    No one objects when they bait and spray poison on Mormon Crickets?
    Why is that?

  17. Ahhh…the sweet sound of the bug killer! Hopefully it’ll kill off all those black flies too. Anything they can spary to shutup the neighbor’s dog in the morning??

  18. Nobody has mentioned this. WNV is growing at an exponential rate in our area. Why? Because very few have immunity. Spraying may help slow the spread of WNV so the local populace can build immunity over time (couple of years?) without tens of thousands becoming sick all at once.

    If many thousands become sick all at once, and make no mistake, WNV can knock you on your butt, then our local economy will be devastated for several weeks or months. Who will shop at the mall? Who will drink at 6th an Main? And to the northenders who are chicken-little-ing about the spraying—Who will pickup your dog’s droppings in Hull’s Gulch? Oh wait, nobody does that now.

    The following could be a whole separate post:

    I’m not too worried about the organophosphates. As someone pointed out they’ve been used since WWII and yet life expectancy has increased in that same time. People are not dropping dead due to organophosphates.

    Someone made mention of the diazinon and dursban ban. What they failed to mention is those 2 organophosphates are still available just not “over the counter” at Walmart and H. Depot. Why? Because joe homeowner was abusing his/her organophosphates. Instead of mixing 1 oz per gallon, joe homeowner would use 10 oz per gallon. More is better right? Wrong. Read the label and follow the directions, chemical engineers are not complete idiots. Are the corporate marketers and accountants for such products idiots, well, that’s a different story.

  19. Did Ada County get an EPA permit? They needed one to spray over the Boise River. Should local governments have to follow the rules, the laws or are they above them? Our Ada County Commishes do have a reputation for acting as if they are above the rules. This is just too tiring!

    Here is the email I recieved from James Wernz, EPA.
    “Thanks for your inquiry. I’m out of state today, but wanted to let you know that no NPDES permit is required, as long as the applicator is applying in accordance with the FIFRA label. The relevant exerpt from the EPA policy fact sheet is below:

    What do the interpretive statement and proposed rule say?
    The application of a pesticide to waters of the United States consistent with all relevant requirements under FIFRA does not constitute the discharge of a pollutant that requires an NPDES permit in the following two circumstances:

    1. The application of pesticides directly to waters of the United States in order to control pests. Examples of such applications include applications to control mosquito larvae, aquatic weeds or other pests that are present in the waters of the United States.

    2. The application of pesticides to control pests that are present over waters of the United States, including near such waters, that results in a portion of the pesticides being deposited to waters of the United States. Examples include aerial applications of insecticides to a forest canopy where waters of the United States may be present below the canopy or applications of pesticides over or near water for control of adult mosquitos or other pests.”

  20. I was somewhat concerned about the spraying but am going to have to say the affects appear, at this point, not as serious as I had been lead to believe.
    I was sprayed last night in SE Boise, and this morning as I hosed down my garden, I noticed the a grasshopper still plague’ing my eggplants.
    I suspect if the chemical spray had been as dangerous as reported by some, all signs of insect life would be gone from my backyard.
    Hope it got the mosquitos.

  21. But James, wouldn’t it be nice if the local govenments actually followed the laws – such as the EPA regulations? Perhaps they have, but are just keeping it a secret from us, the taxpayers.
    Perhaps the EPA regs are silly and do not have any reasoning behind them so do not need to be looked at at followed?
    Perhaps only you and I and other citizens (not the elected few) are the ony ones who have to be aware of the laws and follow them. If that’s the case, well then I’d like that be openly stated “except when an elected official or body does it, then it’s ok to not follow this law”.
    The EPA laws are sometimes for accumulated effects. You know – Just how much poison does it take before the lab rat start developing symptoms – having deformed baby rats, miscarriages, cancer, lowered immunities, more frequent heart attacks, etc? At what point do the hummingbirds eggs no longer have shells hard enough to allow them to mature into baby hummingbirds?

  22. I live in the North End and saw the plane both nights. Both nights I was sitting on my back patio drinking a glass of wine with my wife. Shortly after, my eyes started tearing up and the air smelled horrible.

    Just kidding! I noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

    Think about those wanting to perserve the rural lifestyle out in Star. Crop dusters are a part of the living in country. I guess they don’t mind the spraying as much as us city folk. Complaining out there would be the equivalent of buying a house in the flight path of the airport.

    I guess nobody has ever noticed the line item property tax we pay EVERY year. I do not know how long the district has been around, but I am guessing at least 20 years. How many people posting here or writing to the daily have ever taken the time call the Mosquito Abatement office to ask what they have been doing for the last 20 years.

    Tax Distric 43
    Levy Rate 0.000029309
    MOSQUITO ABATEMENT 208-577-4643
    Tax Paid on $250,000 house= $7.33

  23. Yes, we were lucky enough to get hit Monday before it was called off, and then they hit us again last night. My wife was convinced it was a conspiracy to wipe out left-leaning voters in Ada County (this being the North End and all). This time, though, I was safely inside with all doors and windows shut. And whatever the risks/not risks, I’ll verify that the stuff has an odor. I stuck my head out after the plane went by and smelled the same stench as Monday night. Anyone else notice it?

  24. “I love the smell of Dibrom in the morning. It smells like… VICTORY!”
    – Team Dave (nod to Robert Duvall)

    EDITOR NOTE–In the interest of fair play it is the Ada Commishes, not team Dave, who are conducting the bombing raids.

  25. TG – perhaps the stench you noticed is that of the rotting away of democracy both locally and federally as well as the flowering of double standards. The stench of the Ada Commishes, yet again, (as HH has pointed out) following their own ways and not the laws. I could wax on, but you get the drift – again.

  26. FYI –

    # of aircraft deployed:                        2
    Gallons of pesticide applied:            300

    I am impressed that there is such an exact science to aerial spraying drift. not

    But then my yard doesn’t get sprayed by perma grren kind of chemicals, my apple tree supports apples for my family as well as a few worms and my garden is – was – organic and bugs were not a pest.

    excuse me but I have a lot of early harvested basil awating to be made into pesto.

  27. TG you were not the only folks hit. In the park behind St. Lukes there was a ball game. Familys were in the thick of the spray. But it’s ok, nothin’ to worry about.

    I’m gonna mosey over to see slim jim’s pesto when I get home….we both live on the Bench. So does HH. Us tree hugging dirt worshipers are everywhere, not just in the North End. Northeneders just are the folks living in the houses we fixed up back in the 70’s.

  28. Here’s a copy of a Dibrom label:


    It has similar verbage but does not mention NPDES permit. Instead it says “Do not apply directly to water except when used over water as labeled for adult mosquito, blackfly, or housefly control”, and later goes on to discuss what that means. Evidentally EPA labeling requirements have changed with regards to the low volume of chemicals required to kill mosquitos, see http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ppdc/2003/mosquitocont.htm

    I suppose there’s room for complaint over this given the EPA says it’s bad for water, and bad for fish, but to go ahead and use it over water, as long as you don’t use very much.

    I prefer people who fear West Nile buy personal bug repellant. I noticed “Off!” and all the other brands now have splashes on the labels about WNV. Now With West Nile Protection… I bet Off! only costs $2 more than last year. Unfortunately there’s still no spray for car accidents, or for whatever’s actually killing my age group these days.

  29. does anyone actually remember the point of the movie Erin Brockovich? The fact that the contaminated drinking water did not create obvious symptoms overnight?
    I am not saying that we are all gonna die soon, but that we do need to be aware and not just trust every chemical company that breezes into town offering a “solution” to a problem, takes our tax dollars, leaves a fast poison and leaves. As much as we may like it to be, it’s not the Lone Ranger, folks. It’s a way to earn a fast buck and laugh all the way to the bank. And who fell for it instead of investigating another, less poisonous way…..who….who….yep the servants of the people – Ada’s Commishioners and soon Canyon County. What is with this? Are they just too lazy to do their job and ask their employees to see what other options are out there?
    Vote ’em out, out out – well Judy’s already out.
    Don’t forget this.

  30. You all have your head in the sand if you think this is your primary source of exposure. Perhaps a high visibility event….But good grief, how many of you buy bugspray in a can and use it without gloves and mask?? Did you wash your cloths and shoes afterword?? Read the lable on HornetKiller anyone?? Who here has rubber gloves available for application of all that super-green lawn stuff??? Or even the flee and tick repelant on pets. Get it? My personal favorate is the jug of stuff in the garage, left to slowly evaporate into the houses inside-air over a period of months or years. No doubt chemical exposure will make illness, but start with your own spill zones first.

  31. Great point, j.
    Issues like this become a powerful lightning rod that draws complaints while we are likely exposed to much more hazardous things on a daily basis (vehicle exhaust, anyone?)
    I did smell the spray last night, though. It wasn’t pleasant. Still have to check the garden to see what affect it had on my insect crop.

  32. Lousy point J. You are accusing all of us of not only using pesticides but handling them just like you do, I must assume. Some of us follow the instructions or avoid them completely. One of the topics being addressed is that the decision to spray was made with little notice and with no opportunity to opt out. But beyond the toxicity issue, what about the issue of the effectiveness of the procedure. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on killing adult mosquitoes and all their natural predators on 20% of the County seems like a waste of money to me. The CDC calls it the least effective technique for combatting the spread of WNV. Its like holding back the tide rather than grappling with reality.

  33. Sis, we’ve (the county community) been spending and spraying for years from the ground with little effect, many sick and dead as result from WN. Why be upset with a more effective method. At least we had some warning….I’ve had that damm truck drive by with no warning at 7pm while I was walking the dogs. Having grown up in bugville (midwest), you locals have no idea what real bug control looks like…When it got real bad they would use large transports. Kinda looks like the application of agent orange in VN did.

    I do use the protective messures and the directions….many many don’t just look around while people do yardwork in the evenings. Recomend a separate temp. controled out building for storage of nasties as well as take old stuff to hazmat dump because some formulas mutate with age.

  34. Just like I said said, it could be worse. We lived in CA. when they used helicopters 16 abreast to spray Malathyon ( help spell) all over everyone. The stuff not only smelled, was oily and if it got on your car, would take the paint off! And the Med-fly wasn’t a threat to human life like the mosquitos are.

  35. I agree j – so I do not buy bug spray, don’t use Hornet Killer, run from the super-green lawn stuff etc. When I go to Freddy’s or Home Depot thinking of getting some kind of poison I just cannot stand the smell of the aisle – so I just don’t buy that stuff. However, I do feel like I am evil when spraying Agent Orange every time I Round Up the goat heads!

    Someone told me today that Ada County Citizens suffered NO deaths from WNV – other than those who have been flown in for medical care. Hmmm. Has anyone kept track of this? If it is true, then there is yet another reason to question the sanity of what was just done.
    By the way – got a skeeter bite last night.

  36. J, I think the (or at least a) point is that some of us voluntarily and very consciously avoid the use of all pesticides and/or chemicals in our gardening efforts. Having a pesticide I would never use myself dropped on my head is just as annoying as the neighbor’s Perma-Green treatment blow over into my yard. Unlike the monolithic County, though, I can at least go over and kick my neighbor in the ass.

  37. What a wonderful dream to have TG, to be able to walk up to our politicians and to be able to physically kick them in their collective asses. Ahhhhh – “I have a dream” – do I start locally and progress or just start at the top and kick my way down? May I kick the asses of those elected in other states or am I restricted to those I am allowed to for or/against? It’s my dream so I will go for national as well as international ass kicking.

    Thanks for the new dream TG!!

  38. Below is a link that is only three years old. Much better than a twenty year old fact sheet.


Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: