Friday, October 28, 2011

Blocking Out the Sun

Recently mosquito planes have been spraying pesticide over Atlantic
Beach. And while generally this activity is legal, its details are
largely unknown and somewhat hidden from the general public. But why?

Just looking at one area for example, the Mosquito Control Division
(MCD) of the Environmental Resource Management Department responds to
mosquito control issues in Atlantic Beach. The MCD controls adult
mosquitoes by applying ultra-low volume (ULV) sprays containing
malathion, Dibrom, Baytex, or pyrethroids. Sometimes these are
applied as a thermal fog aerially. All pesticides used by MCD are EPA
registered and considered “safe for the environment.” The information
about where the MCD is spraying and where they will spray is available
on their website (
According to the website, Atlantic Beach was treated most recently on
August 17, 2011. But not all cities and counties are as open as
Atlantic Beach, and none are required to be.
Both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
and Florida Statute 388 allow for the spraying of pesticides from
planes. And Florida Statute 388 emphasizes balancing the natural
environment with the potential problems wrought by the insects that
affect the public’s wellbeing or causes annoyance, including all
mosquitoes, midges, sand flies, dog flies, yellow flies, and house
flies. This appears to be a good public policy, weighing the
interests of the environment with those of the citizens, so how is it

Every county in Florida has a committee which deals with these insects
and they retain the power to take whatever action the county requires
in dealing with the public health risks. These control measures apply
to public lands and must be approved by the Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services, and performed by the local control agency
consistent with a public lands control plan. The control measures are
meant to insure that the application of pesticides is made only when
necessary by determining a need, such as a potential for a
mosquito-borne disease outbreak. The committees are supposed to apply
the minimum, economically feasible, option to prevent a public health
or nuisance problem while imposing the least hazard to fish, wildlife,
and other natural resources.

More specifically, Florida Administrative Code Title 5 Chapter
5E-13021 and 13.036 allows aircraft applications of mosquito
adulticide along beaches and bay shores only when there is a
demonstrable three-fold increase over a base population. The only way
to check to see if this rule is followed is to get a hold of the
surveillance and adulticide application records, which must be kept on
file for at least three years. There are also special rules applying
to aircraft control activities conducted over private lands when there
is a possibility of deposition of airborne substances. These rules
require that the control activities be conducted in a manner which
minimizes the deposition of insecticide onto such lands. In addition,
there are timing rules in place including, but not limited to, a rule
stating that the spraying for certain insects shall not occur between
two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset. As mentioned
above, after an aerial operation takes place, records shall be
maintained for a minimum of three years which will include at least
the following: the area treated, the application rate and the material
used, the equipment and technique used, the name of the pilot in
command, the date, time, temperature, and general wind speed and
direction, pretreatment and post-treatment records of mosquito
presence. So it is clear that a citizen may obtain records after the
fact, but what about prior notice? What if one is concerned that
their child may breathe in these chemicals when they’re playing in the
backyard? To get advanced notice, get ready to divulge personal

If a citizen wants notification of these activities, one has to
request to be placed on the notification list. This requires showing:
that a physician has examined the person and determined that the
placement of the person on the registry for prior notification of the
application of a pesticide or class of pesticides is necessary to
protect their health; the distance surrounding the person's primary
residence for which the person requires prior notification of the
application of a pesticide or class of pesticides in order to protect
the person's health; the pesticide or class of pesticides for which
the physician has determined that prior notification to the person is
necessary to protect the person's health; and the license number of
the physician. Such requirements certainly have a chilling effect and
it is worth asking, “Who are these rules meant to protect? The
public, or some other group?”

So while the City of Atlantic Beach appears to be upfront with their
mosquito-spraying, the only way to really tell is to request their
records and check them against their internally generated reports.
And if you live outside of Atlantic Beach, you may need to divulge
information about your health, or your child’s health.

-Sloane Tait and Andrew Miller

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Green(er) Workplace

Environmentally conscientious behavior can begin in the home, but what about your other home, the office? There are plenty of easy ways in which you can become more environmentally-conscious in the work place. First, you can pack a waste free lunch. This sounds daunting, but really just involves a few simple changes. Start with a reusable carrier, reusable containers, a thermos for drinks, a cloth napkin, and silverware that you can reuse. The key is that none of these items need to be thrown away. It may cost a bit more up front, but since you use these items regularly, you would be surprised how much you can save, and how much less waste you are producing over time. You can also post a sign in the break room to request people to bring in unwanted silverware, plates, mugs, etc. This way other people can use re-usable items at work, and you get to clean out your cabinets.

Another way you can help create a greener workplace is to encourage recycling. If your workplace doesn’t currently recycle, then talk to management and see if it is feasible to put one into place. It will help to remind management that recycling reduces waste disposal costs. If your office already has a recycling program in place, use it. Get an extra trashcan at your desk, and throw away paper separately, so that it will be easier to put it in the bin later. If you separate paper from your other trash you won’t have to root through the trash to separate it later.

You can also encourage management to utilize recycled materials, such as printing paper. Recycled paper can save money, and it’s especially good for inter-office memos and other in-office items that won’t be sent to clients. If you have input on the office supplies that your office purchases, consider green choices such as the Responsible Purchasing Network, the Green Seal of Approval, the Environmental Yellow Pages, the Green Pages Online, and purchasing environmentally-friendly building products. Your office can also utilize environmentally friendly packing material such as Lock n’ Pop. Another suggestion is to buy refurbished computers which are cheaper than new computers, or suggest donating your office’s used computer equipment. Even if every product your office uses isn’t environmentally friendly, small changes can make a big difference.

Reducing energy usage is another great way to help the environment. Energy Star for Small Business will assist you with an energy audit, and tell you ways that you can reduce your consumption. There are also some common sense techniques such as: unplugging things when they aren’t in use, turning off lights when you leave a room, making sure faucets and toilets aren’t leaking.

These are some quick and easy ways to save energy and help the environment at work. For all the resources used in this article go to:, to assist in your efforts for a green workplace.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Friday, October 14, 2011


An old proverb says that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A New Jersey man has made that true for himself in his capitalist venture. Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, created a company which turns non-recyclable waste into recycled eco-friendly products. They do everything from making juice pouches into school folders and backpacks, and transforming chip bags into couches. He has even incorporated other businesses, such as Old Navy who collects old flip-flops, which TerraCycle then turns into playgrounds.

There are many ways to recycle household items to make them useful. Architecture for Humanity and Rubicon National Social Innovations created a contest encouraging entrants to find alternate uses for mattresses. The winning design was called the Helix, which reused these mattresses as sound absorption devices.

This idea is not new as we have all heard the mantra: reduce, reuse, and recycle, it is just more streamlined and modernized. Today you might find on YouTube a clip from the President of Weisenbach Recycled Products demonstrating how to make jewelry out of bottle caps. Other YouTube videos boast creative recycling options for everything from purses made of gum wrappers to table decorations made from glass bottles or two liter bottles. Recycling decreases the amounts of waste that fill up our land-fills, and these products are creative ways to re-use products for which we have already paid. By re-using what we already have and refurbishing it into something new, there is a satisfaction in gaining a new product, and also an appreciation in saving the environment and your wallet. While we may not all be budding entrepreneurs, these products can change the way that we see trash, and its potential uses in our lives.

See the clips here:

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern