Assignment: Risk Assessment
Currently Genericville city council has been debating a proposal regarding the use of the pesticide Malathion within the city. This proposal has been brought up due to the increase in West Nile Virus within the city. The city council is now responsible to make an informed decision that would be in the best interest of the residents of the city, as well the tourist population that visits during the summer.
A season of heavy rainfall has created a good breeding ground for mosquitoes, and recent studies have been conducted on the wetlands in the city. These studies show that there could be 50 cases of West Nile Virus in Genericville with two fatalities. Currently the population of the city is 100,000 and the study results mean that about one out of every 2,000 or so people will likely become infected this year without something being done about the mosquitoes. It is believed that the Malathion pesticide program could reduce the number of cases from 50 to five, with less than a 20% chance of a fatality. Numbers in which are far too significant to just ignore.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry bother the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administrations have approved the use of the pesticide in gardens, on crops, and other areas that mosquitoes are a problem. Also, the pesticide is commonly used on humans for the treatment of head lice (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2003). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Malathion can be used for public health mosquito control programs without posing unreasonable risks to the general population when applied according to the label” (Environmental Protection Agency, 2008).
Another concern with the residents of the city is the harmful effects that Malathion may have on humans that are exposed to it. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry mentioned that people exposed to the pesticide in allowed levels by both the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have been found to experience few to no health problems as a result of exposure to the pesticide (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2003). The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry findings also state that, “Malathion and its metabolites do not tend to accumulate in the body, and leave mostly in your urine within a few days” (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2003). Those that are mildly affected by the aerial spraying are likely those that live or work near the treated areas, or the sprayers of the pesticide. Not much of the Genericville population will be exposed to the pesticide.
Currently, there is no sufficient evidence that Malathion causes cancer in humans. There is also no evidence that the pesticide exposure causes any human birth defects, or affects a persons ability to reproduce. However, the pesticide can become a potential health hazard if a person is exposed to higher doses than the approved levels of the pesticide. If a person is exposed to high amounts receives proper treatment within a reasonable time then they are likely to fully recover. It is my belief that these potential problems can be eliminated, or at least greatly reduced by educating the community about Malathion, sending out safety information to all residents and making it readily available within the community. Also taking proper precautions against overexposure could help in avoiding these problems. Chemical sprayers should wear protective