HIGHTOWER: Dousing Air Travelers With Pesticides

So a flight attendant comes down the aisle of your plane and offers: "Coffee, tea ... or pesticides?"The problem is, if you're flying most major airlinesÜincluding American, Continental, Delta, TWA, US Air, and NorthwestÜyou don't get a choice, since they all admit that they spray their planes with pesticides. "It's for the safety of our passengers," declares a Northwest spokesman, claiming that they don't want insects bothering their frequent fliers.Well, of course not, but there's no evidence that airlines have an insect problem that would require regular dousings with toxics. Besides, what about the safety question of sucking-up pesticides? As one environmental group pointed out to Mother Jones magazine, airplanes are poorly ventilated, with half of the air in the cabin being recycled over and over during the flight, so passengers [quote] "are sealed in a chamber that has been gassed, and sit there for hours."No problem, say the airlines, these chemicals have been okayed by the manufacturers and the government. Well . . . not really. Northwest airlines says it sprays with a product called Saga, but its manufacturer says this chemical is not even registered with the EPA for use on planes. Nor does the FAA OK the stuffÜ"We have no role in approving the use of the chemical, nor do we have a role in monitoring or tracking its use," says the agency.Somebody should monitor it, since Saga's active ingredient is a DDT-like toxic that can cause reproductive defects and cancer. As one noted toxicologist told Mother Jones, "Airlines have no business using it. It's stupid."Stupid to the max, especially since there are plenty of alternative ways for the industry to deal with the occasional bug without poisoning its passengers.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . To help stop this stupidity, contact the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides at 541/344-5044.

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