Opinion

SOUND OFF Roadside spray endangers us all

We believe that we have a safe and healthy haven here on Whidbey Island — safe from the toxins and tensions “over there.” It’s true, this island could be a comparative oasis. But did you know that we are more toxic than Jefferson, San Juan, Clallam, Snohomish, or even King counties with regards to roadside spraying?

It’s time to stop contaminating our sole source water source!

Those other counties don’t spray (or spray way less than us ). Further use of the Coupeville landfill was banned because our water comes from a sole-source aquifer. What falls from the sky and soaks through the ground is what we drink.

Yet Island County continues to dump $60,000 worth of chemicals along our roadsides each year, and these chemicals stick around for years increasing in concentration (bio-accumulating) for our children and grandchildren to drink.

Did you know that childhood leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma have been shown to be particularly associated with pesticide/herbicide use? Did you know that at least two children on South Whidbey are currently fighting those diseases? Did you know that flu, cough, headache, rash, allergies, or even the Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, and ADHD that you or your loved ones may be experiencing have been shown to be linked to chemical exposure?

Did you know Washington State law recognizes that exposure to the chemicals used in roadside spraying may be life-threatening for certain individuals (for whom gradual or sudden exposure to these chemicals has destroyed the chemical-processing enzymes, leaving these people vulnerable to major illness from seemingly minor exposures)? Did you know that the county and state are required to notify these people prior to spraying?

Can you imagine the potential liability involved in continuing this roadside spraying if just a few of those affected were to take their cases to the courts?

Time is short, but there is still a chance to stop the spraying for 2002. We need to show “county-wide support” to end the spraying! We need to let our commissioners know that we value the long-term health of our water, air, earth, salmon, orcas, ourselves, and our children more than a pretty, smooth roads.

Jefferson County responded to their citizens requests 22 years ago and haven’t sprayed since. Their program of mechanical control is “very successful.” Our county will tell you this costs too much.

What?! People’s lives? Our children’s health? Island County spends $2 million each year resurfacing (paving) our inordinately smooth roads. Vegetation-control money comes out of the same pot as these paving dollars. We need to let the commissioners know that we are willing to sacrifice 15 percent on paving in order to ensure the health, vitality, and longevity of our ecosystem and children.

Roadside spraying is by no means the only culprit here. Farm spraying and home and garden use are equally to blame. Please take the time to learn more, for our children’s sake. Children are more sensitive to the effects of toxins than adults.

What you can do to help:

1. Learn more about pesticides/herbicides and alternatives for your own use (www.pesticide.org).

2. Call or write our commissioners at 678-5111 or Island Co. Commissioners, P.O. Box 5000, Coupeville, WA 98239.

3. Sign a petition, get others to sign. Call (360) 221-4010, or email lauriek@whidbey.com to get a petition.

4. Come to Freeland’s Trinity Lutheran Church (Chapel Room) on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. Elise Miller, director of the Institute for Children’s Environmental Health will speak about the effects of chemicals on children and we will discuss what we can do now to stop the spraying.

5. Come to Trinity Lutheran Church (Chapel Room) on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. to see a video — “Gulf War Syndrome: Aftermath of a Toxic Battlefield” — in honor of Veterans Day.

6. We’ve formed an organization called Whidbey Island No Spray Coalition (WINS Coalition). If you’re interested in getting involved, call Laurie Keith at (360)221-4010.

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