To Spray or Not to Spray – That is the question?????

is (1)Recently I was reading a FB group posting that criticized a Chicago area community for its lack of mosquito spraying (adulticiding). I could not resist. I bit.

After managing a community mosquito abatement program for more than 30 years I felt a need to inject some facts and information into the discussion.  I explained that many Chicago area communities have moved away from abatement programs that emphasize chemical truck spraying to ones that attack the threat at the larvae stage – called larviciding. There are several important elements to this which are beyond the discussion of this post.

There are a couple of primary reasons that truck spraying is no longer emphasized.   First, spraying chemicals into the atmosphere is not environmentally friendly.    Many folks my age recount running behind the spray trucks, as kids, playing in the chemical mist…  Was this healthy?  According to World Health Organization study titled “Pesticides and Their Application” Sixth Edition 2006 (page 11)” all pesticides are toxic to some degree to humans.  However, at the dosage levels used for mosquito control, the risk of ill effects is not great.  But like many environmental factors some people are more apt to different levels of chemical sensitivity than others. Second adulticide chemicals are only airborne for a short time and therefore lose effectiveness rather quickly.   Spray will kill mosquitoes that it comes in contact with but does not “hang” long enough in the air for continual protection.

If you live in a rural area where your community does not abut jurisdictions that also have well thought out and effectively designed abatement programs the nuisance problem is more likely.    There is also the greater potential of mosquito transmitted diseases health risk, Ironically the “floodwater” mosquito is the one that is most noticed by the public as it is a frequent and aggressive bitter.  The vector mosquito is the type that is more dangerous as it tends to carry diseases like West Nile Virus or Encephalitis.

The vector mosquitoes usually appear in the latter part of the summer when is hot and dry- August and September in the Midwest – but can be found earlier too. The best protection against mosquitoes is insect repellent applied as personal protection.  The Illinois Department Public Health recommends insect repellent with between 10 to 25 percent DEET.  DEET was developed in 1946 by the US Army to protect personnel in insect infested areas.

So the the question that one must ask is not: Should we spray or not spray?  The question one should ask is “spray” what?

The answer is clearly “spray” – insect repellent with DEET as “personal protection”.  It is your best line of defense against nuisance and disease vectors!



[The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and the author solely and not those of others or organizations that may be stated or inferred in the posting.]
© Ronald R. Searl. 2015

Train Kept A-Rollin

Westmont "Tube" Train Station.

Westmont “Tube” Train Station. Circa late 1970’s or early 1980’s

Railroads have served an important purpose in this country and have been known to make or break opportunities for communities based upon track locations by the railroad companies.   Westmont, Illinois  is no exception to this rule.  The Burlington Northern (BN) Railroad (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe -BNSF) has been a great benefit to the community.  In the early days of the community the railroad brought new residents to the area where they constructed their new homes while continuing to work full time jobs in the City (Chicago) to earn enough money to finish their dream living quarters.

Before that the Westmont area, known as Gregg’s Milk Station (the railroad stop designation) was ideally suited on the highest point of the BN tracks between Chicago and the Mississippi River.  After the Great Chicago Fire this fact combined with plentiful good clay soils for brick manufacturing meant that the railroad was used to transport rebuilding material into the City.

Today, the Westmont commuter stop on the METRA line into the City of Chicago is one of the busiest in the Western suburbs.

When I came to Westmont in 1982 the “ultra modern” tube style train station was over due for replacement.  While the design showed the “progressive” side, in keeping with the community’s long time slogan, it had to be retro fitted after, initial construction to “cap” the ends of the tubes.  Apparently the designers did not take into account that the prevailing winds tend to blow from West to East.  The wind tunnel affect had to be corrected and end walls were added.

The next problem that was identified with the design was the “plastic” panels were not easy to clean.  The many commuter and freight trains traveling daily through town created a “reddish” brake dust.  This made cleaning of the panels difficult.  Removal of the dust caused scratches that made it difficult to see through the panels.  Not very aesthetically attractive either.

So one of the projects I began to work on was a Federal Grant application to rebuild the station to return to a brick style (see photo to the right).

Old Commuter Train Station (circa 1970's)

Old Commuter Train Station (circa 1970’s)

Once the Federal Grant was secured the new station (picture below) was designed to sit on top of part of the foundation of the old Tube Station.  This saved taxpayers money.  The new station (the one we have today) was designed to have about 900 square feet for commercial retail.  For a variety reasons the space was initially used for other purposes.  At one time it housed the Village’s  Chamber of Commerce office, and when it was eventually vacated it had become cost prohibited to use for retail.  Building codes and Federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made updating the space too expensive.

Westmont Train Station - Looking East

Westmont Train Station – Looking East

[The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and the author solely and not those of others or organizations that may be stated or inferred in the posting.]
© Ronald R. Searl. 2015

Hi Neighbor- I Does this Warrant a Visit?

An interesting case was decided by the US Supreme Court recently. (Read: Carroll v. Carman ).  Apparently, at least in Pennsylvania, a police officer, if he is approaching a house, without a warrant, to do a “knock and talk” he must do so at the front door.   Don’t get me wrong I will be the first to stand up and defend individual rights and freedoms in our Country.  But in this case the officer approached and knocked on the Back Door.  Apparently a “no – no” without a warrant in PA.

How many of us approach a house and go to a door in the garage (because the garage door is open), because it appears to be the “door of main use” by the occupants.  But we are not “Arms” of the State.  We are not in a position to violate someones civil rights by knocking on this side door in garage (or a back door as a police officer may).   We are probably just friendly neighbors.  Maybe even bringing some pie or cookies.

Of course Police Officers have their jobs to do that does not involve “social calls.   But this ruling strikes me as odd to say the least.  Apparently in PA is also a legal right to have equal access to escape an approaching Police Officer by restricting his or her approach to the house without a warrant.

Given this logic maybe the State Legislature can simply pass a law requiring all new construction only have one entrance/exit – the front door.  Seems like a simple work around.  If the occupant still needs Constitutional protection for escape they have would have windows I presume.  Oh…I forgot the local Fire Departments may have some fire codes problems with this.  What to do …. What to do….

Apparently warrants in every case are the ONLY answer…..


(c) Copyright.  Ronald R. Searl 2014

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