Is EAB Killing More Than Trees?
The emerald ash borer has been on the top of arborists’ most-wanted lists since it was first discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002. In the last 10 years, it has spread to 19 states and killed over 100 million trees, costing municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries tens of millions of dollars. While the devastation to our nation’s forests and the financial impact of EAB may be obvious, a new study has examined another less apparent, and perhaps more frightening, consequence of the infestation.
Dr. Geoffrey Donovan of the U.S. Forest Service conducted research to discover what, if any, effect the loss of ash trees has on public health. Donovan and his research team pored over 18 years worth of data collected from EAB-infected areas across the country. The research found that Americans living in neighborhoods that are heavily affected by EAB suffered an additional 15,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more deaths from lower respiratory disease compared to areas that were not afflicted. Overall, the results suggest that loss of trees to the emerald ash borer increased mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness. The research adds to scientific evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits.
See page 7 of this issue for an update on emerald ash borer, and another menace to our nation’s forests, Asian longhorned beetle. Download the study at http://donovan.hnri.info/Studies/donovan_et_al.EAB.pdf.
The Tree Care Industry Association recently released a report on occupational tree care accidents in 2012. The report reviewed 128 accidents that occurred last year, 84 of which were fatal. Sadly, last year’s report shows no major improvement over 2011 (86 fatalities) or 2010 (89 fatalities). While tree care work is inherently dangerous, advancements in safety products and techniques as well as the myriad of training courses and certifications offered by various companies and associations should be contributing to a decline in on-the-job accidents. Unfortunately, that’s not reflected in the statistics. Do your part to encourage a safer industry: educate your crew and have a zero-tolerance policy for unsafe practices. These numbers have to come down, and the whole industry must work together to make that happen. See page 34 for the full report.