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Is Aerial Spraying Safe?

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Ginger Allen
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS)  – West Niles poses a serious health risk, but now with aerial spraying, there is a new concern. What could soon rain down over Dallas County may flood doctors’ offices with questions.

Doctor Elizabeth Stevenson is an OB/GYN who says, “Unfortunately, right now, we don’t have a whole lot of information.”

Although Doctor Stevenson has delivered more than 4,000 babies, she, like the rest of us, is waiting to hear what the chemicals that kill mosquitoes could do to at risk patients like infants and pregnant women.

“We are going under the assumption that this will not be harmful to mother or unborn child,” says Doctor Stevenson.

CBS 11 has learned Dallas County will be using Clarke, an Illinois company to spray the pesticide called Duet. Duet contains sumithrin and pralletrin.

“If you ever take Raid and spray on a bug, they basically drop to the ground. That is what they are designed to do. They basically stop their ability to move,” explains Southern Methodist University Associate Professor Brian Zoltowski.

Zoltowski says these are chemicals that the pest control companies have being spraying on yards for years. He says the amounts that will be sprayed will kill mosquitoes, bees and fish. They do not have the protective enzymes to degrade the molecules that people and pets do.

“I weigh around 70 kilograms which means I would need to consume 400 grams for this to be harmful to me. In one acre of land, they are only going to spray 20 grams,” says Zoltowski.

CBS 11 did some digging and found warnings about the chemicals in New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. People with known sensitivities, like asthma and allergies, are encouraged to stay indoors to avoid eye, skin, nose or throat problems.  But health officials in Texas say the chemicals are “safe and effective”. They do warn “people who are concerned” to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid being outside
  • If the pesticide gets on your skin or clothes, wash them with soap and water
  • Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables
  • Cover fish ponds

Swimming pools should not be a concern because the Texas Department of Health says the chemicals break down in sunlight and water.

Doctor Stevenson says she is still waiting for the public notice that typically warns physicians of any health concerns. For now, she says she will likely tell her pregnant patients to take extra precautions and stay inside during the aerial spraying.

CBS 11 also checked with the Environmental Protection Agency. Both the chemicals in Duet are registered. The EPA also warns that they are toxic to fish and bees. It reports the chemicals are only harmful to people and pets if swallowed.

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