Several hundred concerned citizens attended -- and often interrupted -- a heated, last-minute Miami Beach City Commission workshop to discuss use of the pesticide Naled to control mosquitoes that may carry Zika. They say they're worried the pesticide is more harmful than the birth defects that can be caused by the virus.
"I'm really scared about the ramifications of what could happen," said Sadie Kaplan, who protested outside the Miami Beach City Center with her four-and-a-half month old daughter Riley in her arms. To prevent Zika infections, "you can wear natural bug spray, cover up, try to not go out early in the morning or the evening.
"But with the [pesticide] spray, it's just going to blanket everything."
Experts at the workshop -- including representatives from the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control -- said Naled spraying is safe because the pesticide is delivered in extremely low concentrations when sprayed aerially, and also breaks down rapidly. But angry residents said they still have questions about specific numbers. Many in the audience also said they were frustrated to not have a say in the spraying decision.
"It should be our decision if we're exposed to it or not," said Steve Ehrlich, a Miami Beach resident and father of a 1-year-old.
When locally transmitted Zika was first discovered on Miami Beach about three weeks ago, officials had said they would not be able to spray aerially because of Miami Beach's high buildings. Now, they plan to spray Naled over the ocean and use the wind to help disperse the pesticide over the city.
A few hours after the meeting, officials announced they had decided to delay Naled spraying one more day. Spraying is now scheduled from 5 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, with additional spraying during the next few weekends.