Health experts insist aerial spraying in Dallas is 'safe'

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 14 at 5:04 PM

DALLAS — The aerial spray Dallas County is poised to begin using in its battle against disease-carrying mosquitoes is very similar to what is already being used to fog North Texas neighborhoods from the ground.

The bottom line is: According to experts, the aerial spray is not a health hazard in the extremely low doses that will be used.

The brand name of the chemical which will be used is Duet. It's derived from the synthetic family of chemicals called pyrethrin.

Developed in the 1980s, it was approved by the EPA as an insecticide in 1995, and is used in pest control products throughout the world.

According to the EPA, "exposures from the many current uses of pyrethrins ... do not pose risk concerns for children or adults."

State Health Commissioner David Lakey says the public should not be overly concerned about the health risks from the aerial spray. "They are chemicals that have been shown to be very safe, shown to be effective chemicals that have been used in other communities across the United States," he said.

Former Dallas County Medical Director John Carlo says he also feels the chemical spray is safe. "The Environmental Protection Agency and others have found the benefits of reducing West Nile virus infection risks outweigh public health risks from insecticide applications," he said.

However, according to OSHA, there are risks of direct exposure to Duet. It's harmful if swallowed, can cause skin irritation, temporary eye irritation, and can cause nasal and respiratory irritation.

Lakey said some common sense protections the night of the spraying should prevent any ill effects.

"Before that happens, bring your pets inside," he urged. 'Pets should be fine, but that's just being careful. Vegetables have been shown to be safe. The chemical degrades really quickly."

Lakey also says homeowners who have tomatoes or other backyard vegetables exposed to the chemical fog should simply wash them before eating them, as they normally would.

Aerial spraying for mosquitoes is common; it's been done around the U.S. for years. It was done in Dallas as far back as 1966.

Every doctor we've consulted said there will be no negative health effects on humans or animals.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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