The following comments are to be attributed to City of Greater Geelong Director Planning and Development Gareth Smith:
Is the City aware residents are claiming cancers and auto-immune disease are linked to the spraying program?
We are aware of individuals suggesting a link between mosquito treatment and an impact on human health.
This suggestion has no scientific basis and the City is not aware of any evidence to support the claim.
All of the chemicals used in our mosquito treatment programs have been approved as safe products by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
The suggestion of a link between these products and illnesses in people is irresponsible and has the potential to be harmful for individuals and families who have already suffered from the impact of serious diseases.
Sadly, the occurrence of cancer and immunological diseases is not uncommon in any community and the devastating impacts can be widespread and long lasting.
While we empathise with people affected by serious diseases, the recent analysis by the Chief Health Officer does not indicate a higher rate of cancers in Barwon Heads when compared to the rest of Australia.
Did the City of Greater Geelong’s and now the defunct Shire of Bellarine’s mosquito spraying program during the mid-90s and early 2000s include now banned pesticides at any stage?
– if so during which part of the program?
– what pesticides were used?
The City uses Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) and s-Methoprene for mosquito control.
The products are in a pellet form and are dropped from a helicopter flying at a low height over areas that can’t be reached on foot. Helicopter application has occurred since 2005.
These products only affect mosquito larvae and do not harm people, pets or the general environment. Both products are approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for mosquito management.
Up until 1987 we also used a product called Abate, which was approved for the same purpose. Abate contains the active ingredient temephos, which is still approved for use in Australia and around the world.
Up until 2010, pyrethrum was occasionally applied manually on sections of vegetation within the Barwon Heads Village Park. Pyrethrum is an ingredient commonly found in personal insect repellents and household fly sprays.
Pyrethrum was applied using a method known as ‘fogging’ which is targeted spraying of a fine mist to effectively reach through dense vegetation.
Is the City of Greater Geelong aware of data collected by residents suggesting more than 80 people in Barwon Heads have been diagnosed with cancer or auto-immune disease?
We are aware of an individual collecting information from Barwon Heads community members who have experienced a variety of illnesses over a period of time.
Has council been in correspondence with these groups ?
We have been in email correspondence with a number of Barwon Heads residents.
Has council requested the health department conduct cancer tests to analyse data of diagnosed diseases across this period?
Does council have any planned action to address the concerns raised by these residents?
The City will continue to share the facts about our mosquito treatment program and the findings of the Chief Health Officer’s report to the community.
We are committed to communicate in an open and transparent manner to ensure our community is fully informed about this matter, as we did earlier this year when there was concerns about soil contamination.
As part of an Expert Advisory Group, we will work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to review all available information in response to community concerns.
The advisory group was convened last month to consider cancer rates and environmental testing in the Bellarine Peninsula. The group is providing expert and impartial advice to the Chief Health Officer and other agencies.
An open house was held in February and many of the concerns raised have been addressed through information provided here.