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Toxic Pesticides Assault in Utah

In 2015, I met Blaine Malquist. This was in Florida at the Pesticides Forum of Beyond Pesticides, a national organization fighting for environmental and public health protection from the use and misuse of pesticides.

Mosquito fogging

Malquist lives in Nephi City, Juab County, Utah. He briefly said to me that the careless use of pesticides in Utah has made his life and the life of his daughter unbearable.

Apparently, the Juab County has been sponsoring a regular mosquito fogging program that is out of control, spraying homes, people and the natural world indiscriminately. At least, that’s my understanding from talking to the distressed Malquist. He said to me he complained to the local authorities. Nothing worked, however. The mosquito foggers and their local and state supervisors saw no trouble in killing mosquitoes.

In 2018, Malquist and his daughter spoke to me on the phone and sent me brief statements about their struggle with pesticides and those spraying them.

C. Eileen, daughter of Malquist, described her predicament in apocalyptic terms:

Toxic assault and chemical rape and trespass

“Exposure to pesticides destroyed our lives. I was trapped for approximately ten years as a prisoner in my own home.  I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I knew that I was sick in horrendous ways and I felt even worse outside [my home]. I was / am having severe reactions to something that destroys my life, but I didn’t know what it was. I even collapsed at the county fair when they began spraying it [pesticide]. The suffering is so horrible and vast there aren’t words to describe it. I was literally starving to death – allergic even to my food, including food grown on my own property… I didn’t know if I would survive.  I still don’t…

“It helped when it was discovered there was a connection between my severe reactions and the County Mosquito Pesticide truck that sprayed 2-3 times per week. They spray us, our homes, food, air, land, and water…

“They [the sprayers of pesticides] have toxically assaulted, chemically raped, and chemically trespassed us and our environment….

“In Utah we don’t want minors to use cigarettes, yet we allow them, us, the Earth, and our surroundings to be doused with harmful chemicals and carcinogenic materials.

“This is a big money job for many people in our state and many people are suffering because of it.

“The job of our government has always been to uphold the Declaration [of Independence] and The Constitution with our right to “Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness”, which includes clean air, land, and water.

“Our government has failed and is failing us. They have allowed the chemical industry to infiltrate and destroy our protections. Money has been / is the goal, leaving people and animals everywhere to suffer. They [agrochemical companies, industrialized farmers and mosquito foggers] are causing mass destruction with these chemicals…

“In my case, the UDAF [Utah Department of Agriculture and Food] and EPA did a big cover-up which is obvious in black and white.  We have the proof.  Pesticides are destroying us and our surroundings,” she wrote.

Eileen’s father, Blaine Malquist, agrees with his daughter. Pesticides are threatening their lives. He also accuses the local, state, and federal authorities for covering up the harm mosquito sprays like pyrethroids are inflicting on them and the natural world.

Forcing pesticides on humans

Malquist and his daughter speak with knowledge and passion. They are angry they cannot stop the chemical onslaught against them. They are equally angry the local mosquito foggers act like an incestuous gang, exposing people and nature to danger, while breaking the law.

Malquist’s speech may sound outrageous, but it is not. He and his daughter feel abandoned by environmentalists and, of course, by the government:

“These people [Utah pesticide sprayers and regulatory officials] will lie to you. They do anything they can to cover up their illegal activities… They will tell you they spray the street; they don’t tell you the machine is turned directly to spray the homes, and that they drive down both sides of the street. They will tell you they are staying away, but they don’t. They have two trucks. The other truck sprays so they can say they (one truck) stayed away. They don’t follow federal, state, county, or city laws.

“They completely, and purposely, ignore laws and [pesticide] label requirements. They increase the amounts of pesticides used every year… The law breaking in all these areas is vast. EPA did declare broken laws, but the UDAF covered it up…

“All involved [in mosquito fogging] (past and present) have endorsed, aided and abetted… [and] financially backed the spraying [of pesticides] and [the] illegal acts [accompanying the spraying], [which they] covered it up. [They] have forced pesticides on us…

“Utah Department of agriculture and foods… has been involved with illegal spraying from helicopters, and other criminal activities in violations of the laws… The EPA and UDAF just lied about the [pesticide] labels and evidence [of harm] without even looking at it. Furthermore, the EPA investigator prevented us from entering even more vast evidence we have. She denied us our legal rights. All because she wanted to cover it up,” he wrote.

Reflections

I am not a lawyer to judge the details of who harmed whom and why. But it is obvious Malquist and his daughter are hurting. It is also obvious that corruption is pervasive in the regulation of the mosquito fogging programs in Utah.

Is mosquito fogging worth the illness and psychological stress it causes among humans? Malquist and his daughter are vocal. They discovered the source of danger and they are fighting it and denouncing it. But what about those who never connect their suffering with the fogging of their homes and street?

Is it moral to inflict such pain and suffering, and, possibly, disease and likely ecocide for a failed campaign for a mosquito-free environment? What does the failure of government to protect human and environmental health say about our democracy and civilization?

More articles by:

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of 6 books, including Poison Spring with Mckay Jenkings.

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