Quit hiding behind euphemisms: We were dosed with pesticide

Tue, 07/17/2007 - 4:14pm
By: Letters to the ...

Having read recently in your publication several stories concerning last summer’s pesticide release in our area, I now feel obligated to express my views on this matter. You see, my family has been greatly affected by this incident as has many others. But let’s get down to the crux of this event.

As your paper accurately reported, these emissions began in late May of 2006. We were told for weeks that it was not harmful, that it was just an unpleasant odor. All official responses to our questions were the same, by EPD, PSC and EPA. They all only mentioned the odor-causing chemical propyl mercaptan.

Yet they all knew, well before the first drop of this material arrived in Fairburn, that it also contained a very deadly component called Mocap or ethoprop. These two words are interchangeable, so don’t be confused. Mocap is simply the trade name give by Bayer to the chemical ethoprop.

No one ever mentioned to the community either name for this deadly chemical until July 19, 2006, although documentation shows that officials knew of this chemical far earlier.

A vice president of PSC stood in the sanctuary of Bethany Church and identified the product causing the stink as “wash water” of the nematicide “Mocap.” Then he proceeded to tell 400 people that it was not dangerous and would not hurt us.

The community was not convinced. Already, we had been inhaling these vapors for over 54 days, daily ingesting into our lungs tiny molecules of various chemicals being emitted into the air from PSC.

Since propyl mercaptan was the only chemical identified heretofore, some of us had gone to the Internet to find information on this chemical and its affect on humans. What we found did not agree with what we had been told.

A material safety data sheet from Arkema Inc., Philadelphia, Penn., says “this material is classified as hazardous under federal OSHA regulations.” “This material has a strong objectionable odor that may cause nausea, headache or dizziness; inhalation of vapor is irritating to the respiratory tract and with extreme overexposure a sense of coldness at the extremities, rapid heartbeat, cyanosis and respiratory paralysis.”

Does this sound harmless to you? So you see, from the beginning, we felt that we had been misled, misinformed and even lied to. Then we went online and found the information for Mocap.

During the week after the July 19 meeting, I pulled from the Internet a complete product label for Mocap. This came from Bayer Crop science in Raleigh, N.C.

The front page was a shocker: Two skull and crossbones, one on each side of the page, big red block letters proclaiming “danger, poison.” And underneath all this was the proclamation, “This product is an organophosphate.”

Now, since the onset of this event, I was being bombarded with words I had never encountered. So the only thing for me to do was to put an online encyclopedia on my favorites bar. I looked up every word that I did not recognize or understand, I made notes, and I printed out definitions.

Ethoprop is an organophosphate insecticide and nematicide used on agricultural crops and golf course turf. (US/EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Health Effects Division (7509C).

From Wikipedia: Organophosphate Pesticides: “In health, agriculture, and government, the word organophosphate refers to a group of insecticides or nerve agents acting on the enzyme acetyl cholinesterase. Organophosphate Pesticides (as well as Sarin and VX nerve gas) irreversibly inactivate acetyl cholinesterase, which is essential to nerve functions in insects, humans, and many other animals. Organophosphate pesticides have tremendous variations in their ability to affect this enzyme, and thus in their potential for poisoning.”

It became very clear, very quickly, that this community had been exposed to a deadly pesticide.

Now, in various meetings, and even in your paper, we were told that the material was only “wash water” and contained a minute amount of the chemical. During this time I was adamant in my insistence that there was little difference in “wash water” and a pesticide solution. Now I will prove my point.

We know from documentation secured through the Freedom of Information Act this material came from Axis, Ala., via tanker trucks at approximately 5,000 gallons per load. At a concentration of one tenth of 1 percent, I wanted to know how much Mocap was in each truck.

A little fifth grade math should do it. One percent of 5,000 is 50 and one tenth of 50 is 5. So there, 5 gallons per truck. This is only correct if the material data sheets accompanying the material were correct. Concentrations could have been stronger.

At this time I would like to through into the equation, a potato field. Why? Because, some years back, people were made ill from vapors coming from a potato field treated with Mocap in California. This incident has been used to show there is no serious harm from inhaling propyl mercaptan vapors.

We don’t know the product concentration used in the California potato field, but the Mocap label is very specific about concentrations for a potato field. In fact, the label gives specific instructions for a host of crops on which Mocap is used. Mocap is so restricted in use the label consumes 12 pages. Now back to the potato field.

The maximum allowable application of Mocap per acres is two gallons and then 5,000 gallons of water.

Any fifth grader can readily tell you that the so-called “wash water” contains two and a half times more Mocap than the pesticide solution put in the field.

Now if you only have a light infestation of nematodes in your field, you are instructed to use the minimum application which is two gallons of MOCAP and 28,000 gallons of water. Now, your “wash water” at one tenth of 1 percent is almost 15 times stronger than the solution used in the field. It is all on page eight; look it up, I did.

Can we now just drop all the little coverup names such as “wash water,” rinsate, waste water and call it what it really is? Plain and simple, it was a pesticide solution.

According to documents in hand, 3 million gallons of it. And in all likelihood every drop has been flushed down the Chattahoochee River and with the blessing of the state of Georgia.

From documents we identified 17 other chemical companies besides AMVAC, all shipping “wash water” to PSC. What else has gone down our river? Who knows? Who cares? Apparently nobody!

Citizens of Georgia, wake up. To be continued.

Earl Hindman

Fife Community

Fayette County, Ga.

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