Letters to the Editor: January 23, 2020

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Do The Right Thing

It is very heartening to read that Sag Harbor Village is seriously contemplating a partial ban on gas-fired leaf blowers [“Village Considers a Leaf Blower Ban,” January 16]. In addition to their assault on the rights of residents for peace and quiet in their own homes, and the issue of noise pollution, leaf blowers are very damaging to our environment in numerous ways.

According to the Sierra Club, gas leaf blowers disrupt the ecology of your property and all of its species by kicking up fungal spores, insect eggs, mold, animal excrement, fertilizer and heavy metals. This can have family health implications as well, especially for people with respiratory conditions. Exposure to particulate matter has been linked to many serious diseases; the particulates raised by gas leaf blowers can take hours, if not days, to settle.

Birds and other wildlife trying to survive amid human populations are impacted adversely by this obsession with leaf blowers. Nesting birds and their young are dramatically disrupted by the powerful blowers, at a time in our history when bird fatalities have been found to be astronomical.

Many native plant species also are damaged by these blowers, along with pollinators and beneficial insects that we need. Pollen, seeds and butterfly cocoons may be desiccated. The products used to maintain the blowers, from lubricants to degreasers and many other chemical compounds, pollute our soil and water. The emissions from the blowers themselves pollute our air, and the gasoline used, of course, produces greenhouse gases. Gas also is spilled every day on Sag Harbor lawns from these polluting machines, much to the detriment of our regional ecology.

We managed with rakes for centuries on end. Gas leaf blower use should never have become the new normal — but we have the power to reject this once and for all.

Respect your neighbors and don’t let landscapers use these damaging blowers on your property, for which you ultimately are the steward. Respect all the species on and around your property, and please do the right thing for them, too.

Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker, Sag Harbor

Why I Am For Vaccines

I read with interest the Viewpoint by Maude Wilson, Rienna Russo and Lily Wilson in the January 16 editions [“School Board’s Letter Dismisses Real Science”], because it brought back horrific memories of a terrible illness, which occurred many years ago in my family.

I know that many people have extremely strong views against vaccines, but, along with the three women mentioned above, I must tell the readership why I am for them.

We were living in New York City in November 1973 when our middle son, who had been frolicking happily in a playground a few hours previously, at 6 p.m. developed a very high fever and began having difficulty breathing, retracting his chest with every try. I called our pediatrician, and she said to take him into a steamed-up shower. He got no better, and repeated calls to that doctor resulted in the same advice.

Finally, our son stopped breathing.

Somehow, my husband got him breathing again, and then we rushed him to the Emergency Room at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where a tracheostomy was immediately performed by a pediatric surgeon. We were told that our son had a Beta Haemophilus infection throughout his body, and that he would probably not survive. He was put into Intensive Care, and we sat by his bedside day and night, praying for a miracle.

Our prayers were answered, and three weeks later the trach was removed and we took him home. He quickly resumed his activities as a toddler and has gone on to lead an active life.

We, of course, changed pediatricians, and our new one told us that in 1989 there was now a vaccine against Hib meningitis, which had been discovered by Dr. John B. Robbins, with the collaboration of Dr. Rachel Schneerson. The disease has largely become a part of medical history.

We applaud the efforts of Dr. Robbins, who died recently. If his vaccine had been available in 1973, we would never have the nightmares we still get from our son’s disease.

Carey Millard, Bridgehampton

Dangerous Arsenal

A January 12, 2020, article in the Los Angeles Times summarized why a federal court continued the longline fishing ban off the California coast. Like many other decisions regarding longline bans, the justification was bycatch: Leatherback sea turtles, which are one of the many unintended catches of longline fishing, was the justification for the continued ban in California.

Oddly enough, a July 21, 2019, article in Newsday about the Montauk commercial fishing industry promoted local longline fishing as though it was something to be proud of.

Like longline fishing, gill-netting is utilized locally, even though it has been banned in many states, as well as around the world. Gill-netting was banned because of bycatch; it is known to kill many species other than the intended catch. A July 18, 2019, article in The East Hampton Star summarized many of the consequences of gill-netting.

Isn’t it past time for the local fishing industry to voluntarily remove longlines and gill nets from their fishing arsenal? Wouldn’t it be the right thing to do from a variety of perspectives?

Randy Johnston, East Hampton

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