The Washington Post continued its crusade against the fumigant methyl bromide in an editorial attack on Chevy Chase Country Club for using the chemical. But as we’ve pointed out previously…
… methyl bromide is a particularly useful soil fumigant and pesticide. Were ship cargo holds properly fumigated as a matter of course, pests like the Asian Longhorn beetle, for example, might not be in North America.
Moreover, “ozone depletion” is and always has been a nonsense. Check out ozone’s natural seasonality here and note that the heavily irradiated tropics rarely have as much “ozone protection” as the weakly irradiated polar regions and yet life thrives in the tropics. Even if humans did influence the seasonal change in polar stratospheric ozone levels (and there is no empirical evidence that we do) there is no known negative consequence from that. It’s just another of Ozone Al’s fabricated “emergencies”.
In its favor, the Post did have the courtesy to run this letter calling the paper’s coverage “junk science.”
The Sept. 19 news story on a golf course pesticide [“For golf courses, last shot at favored but noxious weedkiller”] stated the following: “Like all pesticides, methyl bromide washes into nearby waterways when it rains.” This statement is misleading and irresponsible.
Some of the several hundred active ingredients in pesticides have been detected in streams, lakes, etc. But research that we and other scientists published in peer-reviewed journals has demonstrated that detection of pesticides in surface water adjacent to golf courses is a relatively rare event, and — for pesticide uses in general, including agriculture, etc. — it is false to state that all pesticides run off into waterways. The reasons are complex.
The Post is considered an authoritative source by many, and it should be careful not to inject junk science into a public discussion.
Stuart Z. Cohen, Wheaton
The writer is president of Environmental and Turf Services, a risk assessment firm.