One week prior to Spring Break, I noticed a truck spraying herbicide on a well-used portion of the campus Mall. It was 11 a.m. The man driving the truck was wearing a gas mask, but there were no warning signs for the students sitting down and eating lunch five feet away.
Two requests to the Grounds Department for information about "Barricade" (the herbicide sprayed) went ignored, but I finally got information from the Arizona Center for Poison Control. It seems that Barricade is harmful to rabbits that inhale it. It also irritates their skin and eyes. (Tests have never been done on humans.)
Students from the Student Environmental Action Coalition later interviewed Assistant Grounds Supervisor Ron Underhill with questions about the incident, specifically, and also about the university's pesticide policy in general. Grounds does not have a written policy concerning caution signs, though Ron did express his concern that Ä when students see someone spraying something Ä they "stay clear of it."
I do not believe that students and others in this community are adequately warned, and I would like to see publications like the Wildcat play a leading role in turning that around. I would like to see a detailed schedule of when, where and what is being sprayed. I would also welcome some serious reporting about whether or not the pesticide sprayed is even necessary in the first place.
For students interested in learning more about pesticides in general, I recommend Empty Harvest, Diet for a Poisoned Planet, and of course Silent Spring.
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