Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock advised members of the Tallassee City Council city will no longer spray mosquito control effective immediately. Hammock said the city would have to spray the pesticide later than it currently does and the city is not in a position to make those adjustments.
“Because of the very vocal outcry of some, and some people calling the Department of Agriculture,” Hammock said. “(The DOA was) back in my office last week. They said someone from a residence on Sims Avenue called them and said they had to go to the doctor because of mosquito spray.”
According to Hammock, the city could face still penalties if certain guidelines are not followed when using the pesticide.
“Because of that, now if we don’t follow the Mosquito Master 412 suggestions — not requirements, suggestions — if we do not follow the suggestions for use then we will be fined $5,000 every time he catches us not doing something,” Hammock said. “They suggest spraying this at dusk.
“I don’t think I suggest having someone out there from 8 o’clock at night until 1 o‘clock in the morning. I think it’s going to create a lot more problems than it’s worth. I think it’s dangerous. I think we will have a lot of people complaining about the noise because they are trying to sleep. Dogs will be barking.”
Hammock then asked councilmembers what they thought.
“I agree with you,” councilman Jeremy Taunton said. “One problem is going to lead to a lot more.”
Councilmember Darryl Wilson said, “I am not for it, but what choice do we have?”
Council member Bill Godwin said the city has more pressing issues to deal with than mosquito control.
“It’s just so controversial,” Godwin said. “Blame it on bureaucracy. It’s too restrictive. There are pros and cons to spraying and there are pros and cons to not spraying. We are tired of the hassle and we have bigger fish to fry.”
John Smith, who is a resident and also the city attorney, said he hasn’t encountered an issue with the spraying.
“I’ve lived here for 27 years and they have sprayed for 27 years and I have never had a problem,” Smith said.
According to Hammock, several of the residents with bee colonies have complained about the mosquito spray. However, Smith said he has been studying bee laws.
“My investigation into bee-law, it says everyone that has an aviary has to have it
registered with the state department of agriculture,” Smith said. “I hope the citizens of our town are following these bee laws.”
Godwin suggested mosquito control now be a personal liability to spray or not to spray.
“Tell everybody to go out and buy their own spray and go outside and barbecue and be done with it,” Godwin said.
According to Hammock, the city has utilized the same popular mosquito repellent, Mosquito Master 412, which has been used in the U.S. for more than 50 years.
Hammock has already expressed concern about potential mosquito-borne illnesses.Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include malaria, dengue, West Nile virus chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, tularemia, dirofilariasis, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Ross River fever and Barmah Forest fever.
There is a new mosquito-born illness that has officials in Northern states taking extra precautions, such as dusk to dawn curfews and dispersing mosquito repellent via crop dusters. The virus is commonly called EEE and is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause brain swelling and leads to death in about 30% of those who catch it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. On Aug. 29, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health warned of a "critical risk" of the virus in 28 communities there with another 37 at high risk. Massachusetts has four confirmed cases.
According to the Mosquito Master 412 label, the pesticide is harmful to humans and animals if swallowed or absorbed through the skin. It is toxic to aquatic organisms including fish and aquatic invertebrates. The product is also highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds.
Mosquito Master 412 has two active ingredients, chlorpyrifos and permethrin.
Chlorpyrifos, sold under many brand names, is an organophosphate pesticide used to kill a number of pests including insects and worms. It is used on crops, animals, and buildings. Permethrin has been used much longer than chlorpyrifos and appears to be much safer than its counterpart. It is on the World Health Organizations List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.
While Permethrin has been in use for years and is considered to be “effective and safe,” the same cannot be said about chlorpyrifos.
Only about half of the Tallassee’s neighboring municipalities use mosquito control. The Town of Eclectic and the City of Tuskegee do not spray mosquito control. The Town of Millbrook does spray mosquito control and the City of Wetumpka uses mosquito control in pellet form rather than spraying for the pest.
Hammock said the city will continue the use of larvicide in areas.