Friday 16 May 2008 | LBAM Spray Bay Area
In the fall of 2007, the women of Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties were subjected to 3 months of forcible aerial spraying of the pesticide called Checkmate. Following this exposure, women began talking to one another about strange reproductive health symptoms they were experiencing. The intention of this article is to document the symptoms experienced by my readers and their friends and relations, and I urgently request that the comments field of this article be used by new readers as a place to add their own experiences of adverse female health reactions if their reports are not mentioned in what follows.
Agent Orange and Endometriosis
During the Vietnam war, the U.S. government ordered the aerial spraying of some 17 million South Vietnamese people with the chemical defoliant called Agent Orange. Some 50,000 birth defects were attributed to this attack. Decades later, the Vietnamese, and the American soldiers who sprayed them, are still dealing with the devastating health harms done to them by Agent Orange. One of the most painful diseases caused by an ingredient in Agent Orange -Dioxin 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) - is endometriosis.
Exposure to TCDD not only caused endometriosis in women directly sprayed with Agent Orange, but it has also been documented as occurring at a high rate in the daughters of American Vietnam Veterans.
Endometriosis is an incurable disorder of the female reproductive system in which endometrial tissues grow outside of the uterus, attaching themselves to internal organs. Surgical procedures are frequently employed to burn away or excise the tissue, but this is a measure which generally only provides temporary relief as the tissues tend to grow back again in time. Women with endometriosis may go through more than a dozen or more of these laproscopic surgeries in a lifetime, looking for relief from the pain of this condition which causes total debility in some sufferers. Hysterectomies are frequently recommended by doctors as the final solution to the agony of endometriosis, even when patients are as young as in their 20s and 30s, despite the fact that the loss of vital organs will cause immense hormonal issues for the women for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Apart from the misplaced growth of endometrial tissues outside the uterus, women with Endometriosis experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Excessively long or short menstrual cycles (much shorter or longer intervals than the typical 28 days)
- Very light and short or very long and heavy menstrual bleeding
- Missing menstrual periods
- Excruciating abdominal pain at cyclical or random intervals, or constantly
- Gastrointestinal pain and distress
- Mental distress, depression
- Headaches, migraine headaches
- Dizziness, disorientation, confusion, inability to focus
- Impaired fertility or infertility
- Extreme fatigue
- Thoughts of suicide due to the stress and life-altering nature of chronic illness
Checkmate and Endometrosis Red Flags
When I first began to hear reports of the women of Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties suffering adverse reproductive health effects following the 2007 aerial spraying, I was immediately concerned. In doing research on the ingredients in Checkmate, I discovered that the chemical 2-hydroxy-4-n-octyloxybenzophenone causes severe hormonal disruption in human beings. It binds itself to estrogen receptors, and, like TCDD in Agent Orange, causes the human body to alter its normal, healthy processes.
I want to state clearly that I am not a chemist, not a scientist, and do not understand whether TCDD and 2-hydroxy-4-n-octyloxybenzophenone are related to one another in their chemical makeup.
Rather, I am a woman who has been living with Endometriosis for nearly a decade, and it is this real-life experience with the symptoms of the disorder that caused red flags to go up for me when I began to hear of what Checkmate was reportedly doing to women’s health.
Symptoms Experienced By Women Following Exposure To Checkmate
What follows is a handful of testimonies given to me by readers. I have omitted the names of the women involved out of respect for their privacy.
The day after the moth spray I had a very bad headache and felt nauseous. My energy level was low and I felt like sleeping. I couldn’t even surf and had to get out of the water. The headache lasted 2 days and that’s very unusual for me. About 3 days later I got my menstrual period 10 days early. I was so surprised that it was so early and had realized that it may have something to do with the spray. I am never that early and mostly right on schedule if anything. Not only was I 10 days early, but it lasted much longer than usual. My cramps were worse and my flow was extra heavy. Unfortunately I did not have the money to go and see a doctor so I decided to see if my cycle would continue to be early/long the next month. The next month I was much closer to normal. I fear for my health if we are to be sprayed again.
Although I’m a post-menopausal woman for over eight years, I experienced bizarre PMS type symptoms which lasted about two weeks right after the spraying. I would have said this was impossible prior to this experience. There must have been some very powerful, heavy-duty, estrogen-type chemicals in that spray to cause these unbelievable symptoms in a post-menopausal woman.
I am 65 and post menopausal. 2 weeks ago I started spotting. I have not had anything like this in 15 yrs. I found the list for symptoms( which I had not seen before )and this was one. I am very concerned for my life if they spray or use any other toxic poisons.
Many menopausal women are experiencing sudden bleeding since the spraying in Santa Cruz. My partner and aunt were both menopausal before the spraying, now there both started their periods again.
After visiting Monterey and Santa Cruz in mid-late November 2007, I missed three periods. I now understand they sprayed the area on November 4-10, 2007. I also got a migraine, which happens to me infrequently. I read that the pesticide can stay in the air for up to 30 days. Until recently, I didn’t attach this dramatic change in my menstruation with LBAM spray, but now I think there’s a link. In my adult life I haven’t missed more than one period in a row. Just thought I’d mention it in case others had similar health impacts. Of course, I didn’t go to a dr. for this, nor do I have proof of the LBAM spray connection but it was very odd for me.
The Burden Of Proof
The challenge that faces all of these women who believe that their enforced exposure to Checkmate may have caused these disturbing health reactions is that they have no way of proving it. Like the veterans who came home sick from the Vietnam War, my readers are up against a government bureaucracy infamous for its denial of health harms caused by the chemicals it inflicts on human beings. It took years for the U.S. Government to finally admit that Agent Orange had caused irreparable damage and fatality to human beings, and any Californian involved in the Checkmate public health crisis will quickly recognize a mirror situation of scientifically unsupported claims of chemical safety followed by denial of damages done.
My chief concern is that the acute (short-term) hormonal anomalies reported by the women of California’s Central Coast are the heralds of long-term damage that may have been done. Endometriosis can only be diagnosed by laparoscopic surgery in which the abdominal cavity is examined for endometrial growths. It is unlikely that any Central Coast women have rushed to a surgeon to be examined in this way following the spray. A more typical scenario is that women will continue to notice irregularities in their menstrual cycles, then may begin to have pain, then may become so burdened with symptoms and pain that they seek medical help. This might happen over the course of a few months, or it may be years before a disorder like Endometriosis appears. The fact that TCDD is now being cited as a potential culprit in the Endometriosis afflicting daughters of Vietnam Veterans shows just how little we understand about the way in which chemical exposures play out in future generations.
What we do know is this: after being forced to inhale and ingest Checkmate, which contains the endocrine distrupter 2-hydroxy-4-n-octyloxybenzophenone, Central Coast women experienced bizarre and immediate reproductive health symptoms. We do not know whether permanent damage has been done to their reproductive systems of a kind to cause disabling conditions like endometriosis or irreparable harms like permanent infertility. We do not know what exposure to Checkmate has done to the female children of the Central Coast and how this may affect their future reproductive development.
Will Checkmate Cause Endometriosis or Other Chronic Reproductive
At this point, our only data is of the kind reported above by the women who were forced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to inhale, eat, drink and absorb a compound of chemicals with documented toxic, estrogenic, endocrine disruptive properties. In short, future effects will take time to appear and every effect caused by the criminal actions of the USDA and CDFA will be a human tragedy. While it is my fervent hope that the USDA and CDFA have not just afflicted thousands of women and girls with the beginnings of endometriosis, Agent Orange continues to rear its hideous head, reminding us of the long-term consequences of our government’s actions.
CDFA and the USDA intend to continue their chemical assault on millions of Californian women in 2008 unless the American people are able to defend themselves and their constitutional guarantee of safety. The Central Coast women will be re-exposed to Checkmate’s toxic ingredients, and Bay Area women will be subjected to their first enforced exposure.
As my readers know, I am striving with them daily to prevent this horrific work of the government, but should the unthinkable happen to us, I hope this article will continue to serve as a document of our unjust sufferings. Again, if you have a personal report to make of symptoms you experienced, please use the comments field. You can use a nickname when you register as a commenter here at Vegan Reader in order to protect your own privacy. I don’t want my list of afflicted women to get any longer, but I also do not want our suffering to go undocumented.
If You Continue To Experience Menstrual Irregularities
If you were sprayed with Checkmate in 2007 and have continued to experience strange reproductive health symptoms, you should seek medical help. That being said, I feel obligated to warn you that my own experience with endometriosis has led me to conclude that traditional doctors often do much more harm than good when patients have this condition. You will be offered painkillers, including morphine, hormonal therapy which may make you a great deal more ill, exploratory surgery and, eventually, a hysterectomy. I parted company with Western medicine because of the damage done to me and further damage suggested to me by the many, many doctors I saw when I became ill. Different paths will be appropriate for different women, but in the end, I decided it was better to accept the illness than go on dealing with the prescribed treatments. As I’ve said, there is no cure for endometriosis, but many women find help for their pain and other symptoms from non-Western sources. I hope and pray you will not have any need of this advice.
Due to my own lack of education regarding chemistry and the fantastically complex workings of the human body, this article can hardly do justice to the gravity of the subject it is attempting to cover. My wish is that others will pick up the thread here. If you are skilled in areas that might allow you to further investigate the link between the LBAM spray, Checkmate, and the chilling female health effects experienced by Central Coast women, I urge you to see that your time would be well and wisely spent picking up where I am leaving off here.
I refuse to insult your intelligence by framing my writing in the way so many journalists have, acting as though the big question is whether pesticides are safe. We are already vastly aware that pesticides are a threat to health and life.
We have not forgotten DDT and Agent Orange, and we have not forgotten that the very same groups who pushed these substances on us are now touting their new pesticide du jour as ’safe’. Yet, we also shouldn’t forget that it was citizen protest and research that got DDT banned and shamed the government into admitting the damage of Agent Orange. It would seem that Checkmate has become our new subject, and we need all the evidence, data and proof we can get to keep fighting the strong fight.
I want to end by expressing my extreme sorrow and empathy to the women and children of the Central Coast. This should never have happened to you. And, I know you will be deeply grateful to anyone who steps forward with special skills here to shed light on what was done to you.