Case A Day: A Daily Profile of a Victim of Pesticide Spraying

October 25 - Over the next two weeks, we will profile individuals who have filed claims as victims of aerial pesticide spraying for the light brown apple moth (LBAM). 

In September, October and November of 2007 the California Department of Food and Agriculture sprayed an untested chemical on the citizens of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties with little notification. One concerned citizen in Pacific Grove created a web address and a PO Box and began collecting symptom forms from local citizens who wanted their health effects recorded. The result is a full report that was issued on January 3, 2008 and included 643 documented complaints of the following symptoms:

  • Skin rashes
  • Vision blurred
  • Eye irritation
  • Sore throats
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sinus bleeding
  • Chest pains and tightness
  • Heart arrhythmia and
  • Tachycardia
  • Headaches
  • An inability to concentrate and focus
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle aches
  • Body tremors
  • Intestinal pain and diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Swollen glands and lymph nodes in neck and under arms
  • Feelings of lethargy and malaise
  • Menstrual cramping
  • Interruption to menstrual cycles
  • Recommencement of menstrual cycles after menopause

Unfortunately, state agencies, including the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), have failed to conduct a truly comprenhensive examination of these claims. The cases below illustrate the frightening stories of individuals that have filed claims of pesticide poisoning:


October 31st - Dr. Belinda Icenhower lives in and practices medicine in Monterey. The day following the first aerial pesticide spray, she felt ill, as did many of her patients. They exhibited a variety of conditions, including headaches, nausea, rashes--all symptoms she believes are connected with pesticide poisoning.
After her community was sprayed, she decided to learn more about the ingredients that were aerial sprayed throughout the Central Coast in fall 2007. "My research of each of the inert ingredients from peer-reviewed reports, EPA reports, and material safety data sheets, determines each of them to be toxic to some degree on their own," she noted. 

Dr. Icenhower is also the mother of two young sons. "My concerns with introducing yet another element, like aerial spraying, into our already overburden environment is that it could pose a threat to the health of the immune-compromised. Children and our elders are specifically at risk."

October 30th - "The day after the spraying we got many phone calls from clients who woke up with a severe cough, sore throats, burning eyes, and skin rashes and itching," said Susan and Jeff Turner, local business owners, residents and health care practitioners, who also felt ill.

"Our hearts break to think of what could happen to the health of our community and beloved environment with long-term exposure to these chemicals," they added.

October 29th - Dr. Doug Hulstedt, MD, FAAP, wife Gloria, daughter Lisa Fritz, and her children, make up three generations of residents living on the MontereyPeninsula. Dr. Hulstead is also one of the areas leading pediatricians. Each week, Doug and Gloria even host their own radio show, which promotes conversations about health and the environment.

Dr. Hulstedt not only regularly sees clients with asthma, but his grandson Lucas has severe asthma. After the first LBAM spraying in September 2007, Lucas had such severe reactions he had to use an inhaler almost daily.  "In my practice there were roughly 15 people who came in with scratchy throats, skin rashes and asthma symptoms directly attributed to the spraying," said Dr. Hulstedt.

The doctor doesn’t mince words when he talks about aerial spraying that took place throughout the Central Coast. "I am disgusted with the gross disregard for human health and welfare shown by CDFA. From a medical standpoint, what medical committee OK’d the experimentation on what will eventually be the spraying of 7 million people?" he asked.

October 28th - Maria Helenius is the mother of a 2-year-old son, a registered nurse and the wife of a doctor. She relocated to the Peninsula from southern California for the quality of life and the clean air. Upon learning of the aerial spraying Maria was shocked.

"As a registered nurse and mother, I am very concerned about the long term effects of exposure to synthetic pheromones and inert ingredients," says Maria. 

"The government should not take any further action until proper consideration of health effects are addressed and assurances are made," she added.

October 27th - "Our son Jack was the picture of health – never sick.  The day after the spray he couldn’t breathe and required emergency hospitalization.  We’ve since been directed to give him daily nebulizer treatments--we fear he may have chronic damage to his lungs," said Sharon Wilcox,  mother of Jack Wilcox.

Despite the family's efforts to report the health effects of aerial pesticide spraying, and ask for further investigation, the state has conducted only a superficial examination.

"After Jack was admitted to the hospital twice, I reached out to a number of different state agencies to report a possible serious and near fatal reaction to the spray. To this day, not one person from the State has ever contacted me nor responded to my pleas," said father and US Air Force Major Tim Wilcox.

“We felt frustrated and powerless in our efforts to protect our son.  The State didn’t seem to care about any health effects and was adamant to continue spraying,” the couple added.

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