Tampa resident wants golf course to avoid pesticide Curfew

pesticide Curfew
View of Babe Zaharias golf course, Tampa. By Kalbbes [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Tampa resident is worried that the Tampa Sports Authority will fumigate a public golf course in her neighborhood with a toxic pesticide. Debra McCormack, CEO of the marketing company Tampa Communications and past president of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association and wants to make sure the chemical Curfew (with 1,3-dichloropropene) doesn’t get used at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course.

Listen to the full interview here:

“The Tampa Sports Authority used a chemical called Curfew to fumigate the golf course. I believe it was 2008. It’s a fumigant, which is slightly heavier than air and I believe they only put the spikes 5-inches into the ground.

“What happens is that it rises and then because of wind drift, it goes into the neighborhood and into people’s yards. The active ingredient in Curfew is 1,3-dichloropropene. It is 97.5% of the product, so that’s pretty close to 100%. That means that you’re breathing the active ingredient. The active ingredient is on the American Cancer Society list and I could bring up a lot of other organizations, such as it’s been banned in the EU–the European Union.

“The biggest issue is, when I spoke to the gentleman from Dow Chemical, he said: ‘Well, what about hot dogs?’, and this was only a few weeks ago. I said: ‘People have the choice of whether or not they eat a hot dog. They have a choice of whether or not they buy organic or [non]organic produce. They don’t have a choice when you fumigate them in their own houses.’

“There are buffer zones. The EPA reduced it from 300-feet to 30-feet. We’ve been unable to find out the when, where or why’s of the situation. I did find one article that said that Dow encouraged agricultural users to write their senators and congressmen, etc., but, with the EPA kind of in a shut down mode right now, we’re having a hard time finding that information, as to when they changed the buffer zones.”

And you’re concerned that The Tampa Sports Authority might spray this on the golf course again?

“They have it on their agenda to do it in mid-April. We’ve already voiced our concerns about this and they did do it in Roger’s Park in June of 2016. I have the notice that they gave to Roger’s Park residences. In that notice, they did not fully disclose what Curfew is. They did not say that Curfew is a known or reasonably anticipated human carcinogen. Because if those words followed every “Curfew” use in a notice or otherwise, then I think that people would pay more attention. So, I don’t think it’s a full disclosure situation.

“We aren’t concerned so much with, besides fumigating the residents of Forest Hills and using this really close to the Hillsborough River over in Roger’s Park, the basic thing is, you know, it’s not that we’re afraid of getting cancer ourselves, we are absolutely against fumigating people who don’t know. They don’t know the half of the science behind it. But, we also stand for the fact there is enough cancer already. If it’s a known carcinogen, why add more to the environment?

“Tampa’s image as a green city–which I do believe this city has a department, headed by Thom Snelling, I’ve talked to him about this already–that touts that Tampa is a green city. Well, I don’t think a green city puts carcinogens in the ground with spikes.”

And the purpose of this is to kill nematodes, kill these worms?

“Yes. And the other question is that when it is? But, Curfew is almost like the nuclear bomb of pesticides. Not only does it kill the nematodes, it kills everything else. It’s toxic to fish. It’s toxic to wildlife. If you read the supplemental labeling on the product and also many internet sources, again, it kills avian life, fish, it kills the nematodes, it kills everything else.

“And again, the carcinogenic properties: we’ve had an argument back and forth over the fact that mostly Florida is Karst geology, which you know means a thin layer of limestone over a fairly shallow distance to the ground table water. I don’t know the exact numbers or how this would work, from a scientific perspective, but, just from a laymen’s perspective, I don’t think that shooting carcinogenic chemicals into the ground table water makes a lot of sense. These are our concerns.

“We plan to, at this particular point in time– the last time we fought this, Dow Chemical left on the basis that they were getting too much publicity and did not want the spotlight shined on their product. I’m only making the assumption that, you know, it would put their product at risk for possibly being pulled off the market.

“Right now, it’s currently only used I believe, in 5 southern states. I don’t have the exact numbers or reasons, in terms of what’s going on in the other 45, but, I do know that Curfew and 1,3-dichloropropene is mostly for agricultural use, which is why setting it off in a residential area doesn’t make sense, when there are nothing but houses that surround this particular golf course.

“I don’t think that we can fight the battle for every single place on the planet or every single area that they use this, but, perhaps we can bring attention to the product and simply say we’re against cancer. That’s it, bottom line is: green grass is not more important than a human being.

“And the Precautionary Principle states that if there is a chance of doing harm or not doing harm, from a moral point, choosing the do no harm perspective is really the right thing to do.”

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