A chemical used for mosquito control in South Florida has been the source of controversy in recent weeks, after a study showed it could be linked to developmental delays in infants.
In large doses -- much larger than the one to two tablespoons per acre used for mosquito control -- the pesticide Naled can cause muscle spasms, seizures and severe neurological and respiratory problems.
But a representative for the main company that provides Naled to South Florida mosquito control departments says when it's used following the guidance set forth by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled is a safe and highly effective means of mosquito control.
Brian Maddox represents AMVAC, which makes the Naled-containing pesticide Dibrom.
"It’s a matter of relative risk," Maddox said "What’s really worthwhile is to learn more about each of those complex risks so that you that can come to your own conclusion about whether it’s a sensible tradeoff. But it should be based on science. And it should be also based on what regulatory authorities have done."
Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Naled -- in conjunction with an organic pesticide -- to kill the mosquitoes that were carrying Zika in South Florida. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved Naled for controlling black salt marsh mosquitoes, which don’t transmit diseases to humans but are aggressive biters.
But Naled isn’t approved in the European Union. Maddox says that’s because AMVAC did not pursue an application to have it registered for use there. He says there aren’t as many mosquitoes in Europe as in the U.S., and aerially spraying insecticides for agriculture or mosquito control just isn’t that common.
"There's no market there," he said. "To get the product approved in any market is a very costly endeavor. And AMVAC’s not a huge company."
The EPA is currently conducting a routine review of its guidance on Naled. Revisions, if there are any, will be available for public comment by the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, Broward officials have responded to requests for more aerial spraying. County mosquito control plans to spray Naled over parts of Weston on Friday and Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines on Saturday. That's after some town leaders and residents complained that a surge of black salt marsh mosquitoes has made it impossible to go outdoors without being immediately swarmed and bitten.
The spraying will be conducted between 4 and 6:30 a.m.
This post has been updated with information about aerial spraying scheduled for this weekend in Broward County.