Details emerge on aerial mosquito attack plan

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 13 at 10:27 PM

DALLAS — The chemical already being used for ground spraying in Highland Park is similar to the one that would be used for aerial spraying in Dallas County.

It's called Duet, manufactured by Clarke, a Chicago company that makes and applies pesticides and herbicides. Clarke has had contracts with dozens of municipalities from California to Massachusetts for mosquito control.

Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said the widespread use of Duet means it's safe.

"They're chemicals that have been used in other communities in the United States when they've had outbreaks of mosquitoes," he told News 8.

Dynamic Aviation of Virginia is Clarke's partner, and will supply at least two aircraft that could be ready to fly by Thursday.

Other planes could come from other parts of the country where they are currently being used. Only two-engined airplanes are certified for spraying over cities in case of engine failure.

The question remains: What parts of Dallas County will the flights be over?

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is waiting for cities within the county to decide whether they will participate or not.

"Once they make a decision, public works has to 'grid' that for the airplanes," Jenkins explained. "Once a grid has a lot of angles and shapes in it — or holes in it — it becomes very difficult for a plane to be that precise."

The aircraft typically spray at an altitude of 200 to 400 feet, and can treat 20,000 acres per hour per plane. The flights would happen at night, when mosquitoes are active and other insects are not.

The City of Dallas hasn't decided whether to back the spraying yet; neither has Highland Park. So we'll have to wait until Wednesday to see if these preparations go forward.

Health officials suggest keeping your windows closed and fans turned off during spraying. Cover or shield your outdoor ponds and bring pets inside.

If your skin or clothes are exposed to the pesticide, wash them with soap and water.

And be sure to rinse any homegrown fruit and vegetables that may be exposed to spraying prior to consumption.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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