Residents of the Hope Ranch area say
that several people are sick from a pesticide that was sprayed in
their neighborhood to eradicate Oriental fruit flies. Two weeks
ago, biologists found three Oriental fruit flies – which threaten
crops – in Hope Ranch traps. In response, the California Department
of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) launched an eradication program that
uses a mix of the chemical dibrom and an attractant to lure and
kill male fruit flies. According to CDFA spokesperson Steve Lyle,
dibrom yields the best results with the least amount of pesticide.
But Estelle Foster of the Pesticide Awareness and Alternatives
Coalition said that the chemical is too hazardous for use in
residential areas and less drastic measures should have been taken.
“It just went from finding the flies to nuking the area,” said
Foster, who has spoken to a number of people who suddenly fell ill
soon after the dibrom (also known as Naled) was applied to trees
and telephone poles in the area, unbeknownst to some residents. In
light of these concerns, the Santa Barbara City Council plans to
formulate a notification system to alert residents of affected
areas to future spraying.