Schools, cities weigh washing mosquito spray from playgrounds

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 7:13 PM

DALLAS — Cities and schools have taken different approaches on whether to wash playground equipment, swing sets, and outdoor water fountains after aerial spraying for the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

On Friday, hours after the spraying ended in University Park, the city sent employees to hose down and then wash off all eight of its public playgrounds, along with with tables, chairs, and its public swimming pool.

"Just as a precaution, if you're going to use a drinking fountain, it's probably a good idea to let the water run a little bit in it before you start using it, but we've tried to hit them all," said University Park City Manager Bob Livingston.

Highland Park and the City of Dallas, both also under the mosquito mist on Thursday night, said they decided not to wash down playgrounds since the insecticide is supposed to break down in sunlight after 24 hours.

"According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Duet, the chemical being sprayed, is approved for use in outdoor residential and recreational areas," said Dallas Park and Recreation Director Paul Dyer.

University Park, the only city cleaning the oil-based chemical, said it took the extra precaution to make sure it doesn't exacerbate anyone's allergies or asthma.

"One of the first things I checked this morning was if we had any medical calls last night," Livingston said. "We had virtually no medical calls after 8 p.m., which is a really quiet night for us."

By Friday afternoon there did not appear to be any widespread medical problems. No one suffering an adverse reaction to the chemical mosquito mist had sought treatment at Parkland, Children's or Texas Health Presbyterian hospitals.

Dallas ISD said it would scrub playground equipment after the aerial spraying ends. Plus, if it doesn't rain soon, Richardson ISD tells us it will do the same thing before school begins on August 27.

"This is our green okra," said Mark Wootton as he walked through his large organic garden in East Dallas, which serves his restaurant, The Garden Cafe, in the 5300 block of Junius Street.

While he didn't like the spraying, Wootton said there's no need to waste vegetables.

"We'll let [the chemical] break down in the sunlight today and then tomorrow, if we do use anything, we'll double-wash it," he said. "We'll wash everything by hand."

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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