Concern expressed over spraying for mosquitoes

August 11, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

Sandy Rippetoe's four-year-old may miss his first day of school at Danville Montessori School Tuesday.

His mom is afraid that insecticide residue intended to kill mosquitoes will still be on the school's playground equipment. Monday night the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will spray Danville with a form of the insecticide Dursban to curb the mosquito population. The number of West Nile Virus cases has tripled since last week and Kentucky is one of 16 states that has had human cases of the disease.

Rippetoe said she doesn't have a problem with the spraying but rather with the insecticide, Dursban, which is being phased out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The spray, also known as chlorphyrifos, is the most widely used household pesticide produced in the U.S. and is used in agriculture, home and termite treatment.


Dursban "is part of a class of older, riskier pesticides ... it is clear that the time has come to take action to protect our children from exposure to this chemical," former EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said when the phase out was announced in 2000.

The state has been assured by the manufacturer that the chemical is safe, said Keith Hamilton, assistant director of the Department of Agriculture's division of environmental assistance. He explained that sunlight breaks the insecticide down and it is gone by morning.

Rippetoe is not convinced. She said she has smelled it in shaded parts of her yard.

The Danville City Commission is notified by Code Enforcement Officer Tom Broach every time the city is sprayed.

Hamilton said that people who want to be sure they and their children are safe could wash outside toys, but he again said that the manufacturer said it isn't necessary. He also said people can be their own best defense against the insects. Here are some of the department's suggestions:

* Dispose of old tires, buckets, and other containers that might hold water.

* Don't allow water to accumulate at the base of flower pots or pet dishes for more than a few days. Clean dog dishes regularly.

* Clean debris from rain gutters and remove water on patios or flat roofs.

* Check around air conditioner units and repair leaks or puddles that remain for several days.

* Change water in bird baths and wading pools at least once a week.

* Remove tall weeds and grass in the yard to eliminate the mosquitoes' favorite daytime resting places.

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