Lawsuit against Vector Control dismissed by judge – The Mercury News

2022-09-23 19:13:18 By : Ms. Sara Huang

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A local group advocating for alternatives to pesticides will be appealing a recent court decision that dismissed a lawsuit against the Santa Clara County Vector Control District.

Retired county planner and Saratoga resident Cheriel Jensen, along with the group Healthy Alternatives to Pesticides, sued Vector Control on the basis that the county needed to conduct an environmental review for the spraying of Zenivex, a new EPA “reduced risk” product. The lawsuit also claimed that the fogging or spraying of pesticide illegally encroaches on private property.

On March 20, the Superior Court of Santa Clara County dismissed both claims without a trial, according to HAP’s environmental lawyer, Alexander Henson.

“I hope that the court of appeal will readily see the judge was giving inadequate attention to the real harm of what the wholesale of dosing the community with pesticides is doing,” Henson said.

HAP, a San Jose-based group of scientists, doctors, lawyers, parents and residents, suggests using alternatives such as aquatic organisms that feed on mosquitoes such as ants, birds, bats, frogs or fungi to combat the mosquitoes naturally.

While disappointed in the court’s decision, Brandi Madison, a co-organizer of the group, says she is prepared to continue to fight.

“Even if I have to take it to the [U.S.] Supreme Court, I am not going to give up,” Madison said.

Madison said she has personally witnessed bees dying and people getting sick, including herself, during foggings.

Vector Control uses insecticides to kill adult mosquitoes in instances when some of the insects have been infected with West Nile virus.

Vector Control uses a truck-mounted fogger to spray an amount of insecticide at what the district calls an ultra-low volume, the equivalent of spraying less than three tablespoons of liquid across an entire football field, or about an acre of land.

Because Vector Control is applying about 1.5 fluid ounces per acre, there should be no significant risk to residents and therefore no need to relocate during the fogging, the district reports.

The court’s decision “serves to vindicate the fact that these programs have been thoroughly analyzed and that, in part, we have a 30 year track record of safety,” said Russ Parman, assistant Vector Control district manager. “And as we have been saying all along, fogging is just one small component of a much larger program.”

Parman said that while last year was a record-breaking year in terms of West Nile cases in birds, less than 1 percent of the Vector Control program involves the fogging operation. The rest focuses on larval control and public education.

“There is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes, where the real program is,” Parman said.

Three dead American crows have tested positive for West Nile virus in the South Bay so far this year. Birds were found on March 19 and 20 in the San Jose ZIP codes 95124 and 95123, and on March 20 in Cupertino, according to a report this week by Bay Area News Group.

For information about West Nile virus prevention and vector control in Santa Clara County, visit

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