Concerned environmental leaders and human health practitioners have denounced as a "whitewash" a report released by State health officials today claiming there is no link between last fall's aerial spraying for the Apple Moth and the hundreds of illness complaints filed shortly thereafter. Today the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a press release claiming that "scientists were unable to find a link between aerial spraying and illness complaints." The press release quotes OEHHA Director Dr. Joan Denton as asserting that "[w]e examined all of the complaints and it was not possible to link the reported symptoms to the aerial spraying." The OEHHA study compiled 463 reports of illness from Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties following the State's aerial spraying of "Checkmate" in those counties in September, October and November 2007. The OEHHA study dismissed more than 90 percent of the 463 symptom reports on the grounds that they "do not contain adequate information for us to determine whether or not there is a link between the reported symptoms and the Checkmate applications." OEHHA Report at 22. OEHHA disregarded the balance of the reports on the grounds that "the reported symptoms are non-specific in nature and . . . quite common among the general population." OEHHA Report at 21.

"The OEHHA report is a whitewash," stated Frank Egger, President of the North Coast Rivers Alliance, a conservation group dedicated to protection of California's coastal rivers and watersheds. "OEHHA never conducted a site inspection of any of the areas of contamination to measure levels of the pesticides." "Nor did OEHHA ever take any samples of water, soil and air from the areas sprayed," pointed out Mr. Egger. "It is not surprising that since it did not bother to look for evidence of a connection between the spraying and the hundreds of illnesses reported in its wake, it never found one," added Mr. Egger.

"The OEHHA report is completely bogus as a scientific document," observed Dr. Sandra Ross, an expert in human health impacts of contaminants in the environment. "OEHHA's report reveals that it never interviewed any of the injured persons, nor their physicians, or nor their family members," noted Dr. Ross. "How the OEHHA can claim there is no connection between the reported illnesses and the spraying that preceded them without conducting even a rudimentary investigation is baffling," added Dr. Ross. "The first step in any responsible investigation of the human health affects of the spraying would be to interview each of the persons reporting symptoms, in an attempt to isolate the cause," pointed out Dr. Ross.

Michael Lynberg, a Silicon businessman who singled handedly collected hundreds of the illness reports from affected citizens and sent them to the State, echoed these concerns. "The whole purpose of the OEHHA report appears to be to 'blame the victim' for failing to prove the cause of the symptom," stated Mr. Lynberg. "The State is attempting to create the impression that there is no connection between the illnesses and the spraying, without actually investigating the illnesses to determine if they are linked to the spraying," pointed out Mr. Lynberg. "OEHHA tries to excuse its inaction by contending that none of the victims presented enough information in the report forms they filled out to conclusively prove a connection. But it is not the obligation of those victimized by the spraying to investigate and establish the cause of their illnesses," pointed out Mr. Lynberg. "Rather, that should be the duty of the OEHHA - a responsibility that it has completely shirked," added Mr. Lynberg.

Keith Andrews, a retired police officer and one of the hundreds of spray victims, summed up the State's report with one word: "Phony." "The State has never been interested in investigating, much less documenting, any of the hundreds of injuries and illnesses caused by the spraying," stated Mr. Andrews. "I have followed all of the prescribed procedures to document my severe respiratory symptoms, but the State has simply turned a deaf ear to them," added Mr. Andrews. "It is high time that the State listened to its citizens, rather than swept them under the rug because they document the many serious health effects of the State's ill-considered aerial spray program,:" added Mr. Andrews.

NCRA attorney Stephan Volker summed up that organization's frustration with the State's failure to conduct a meaningful investigation. "It is a sad commentary on the agency that is supposed to 'watchdog' pesticide spray that, instead of interviewing the spray victims and following up on their leads, OEHHA issued a press release dismissing their illnesses because the forms on which their reports were submitted do not provide enough information to establish causation. Yet these are OEHHA's own forms. If the forms are deficient, then OEHHA should correct them, not blame the citizens who used the State's forms as they were instructed to do," added Mr. Volker. "By failing to interview any of the spray victims, much less investigate the circumstances of their illnesses, OEHHA has turned its back on the very public it is supposed to protect," added Mr. Volker.

OEHHA's Report and Press Release can be accessed at oehha, or may be obtained by calling the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker at (510) 496-0600.

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