Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mosquito Policy Violates PMI

Health Department’s New Mosquito Control Policy
Violates Pesticide Manufacturer’s Instructions

Last month, Nashville's Metropolitan Board of Health adopted a new mosquito control policy, which allows drivers spraying pesticides for mosquitoes to leave the spray running when pedestrians are present. Before the Board unanimously adopted the policy, the director of the Metro Public Health Department Dr. William Paul claimed that leaving the spray on when pedestrians were near was “no problem”.

Apparently, the manufacturer of the pesticide does not agree and neither do 152 Davidson County residents who recently filed a motion with the Board to reconsider. Seventeen citizens who claimed they were sickened by the pesticide when their neighborhoods were sprayed and thirty-one people with health conditions varying from asthma, Parkinson's disease, to pesticide hypersensitivities were among those who petitioned the Board to reconsider their decision and amend the policy. Seven members of the local medical and scientific community also signed on stating that they had serious concerns. (Upon your request all documents from for motion to reconsider will be sent via emai.)

Among the documents included in their request to the Board were transcripts from the testimony of two members of the Health Department's Pest Management staff. Both men were specifically instructed during training by the manufacturer of the product about the dangers of spraying people with the pesticide Anvil 2+2. The men claimed, under oath, that they were told to shut off the spray when pedestrians were near. The testimony was part of discovery depositions for recent litigation involving the injury of a Donelson man, Emmett Clifford, who was sprayed at close range by spray truck driver John Primm. [See attached transcript for John Primm pages 18 line 18 – page 24 line 15, and Larry Cole pages 13 line 6 - page 16 line 20.]

The department’s policy at the time was to cut the spray off when pedestrians were present many pedestrians complained that drivers frequently did not do this and some reported experiencing symptoms to the department. By 2005, Clifford and a lawn care crew had filed civil lawsuits against the department for injuries.

After the second lawsuit was filed, the department required a lead and following truck to go out with the spray truck to warn citizens and to radio the driver to cut off the spray if people were visible. However in 2006, citizen Karl Meyer witnessed drivers in his Fisk Park neighborhood leaving the spray running while families with young children were in their front yards, kids were on bikes, and even as they passed a man in a wheel chair. [Karl Meyer: 322-9523] Spray truck driver John Primm was also captured on tape by NewsChannel 5 in 2006 as he left the spray running while a man ran through his front yard trying to get into the house.

East Nashville resident, Davida Hicks found herself in this situation early one evening while working in a friend’s yard. She says that she was close to the street and visible to the driver but the spray truck driver left the spray on as he passed the yard. She could not get inside to escape the spray - the door was locked. She claims she experienced trouble breathing that evening and a fluid congestion.

Attorney Joseph Johnston is representing eight former victims of spraying, two witnesses of pedestrian spraying, and three citizens with pesticide hypersensitivities. He urged the Board to amend the policy so that individual pedestrians and homeowners are not sprayed, for a voluntary registry of individuals who are hypersensitive to pesticides, and asked them to reinstate the opt out option in order to reduce the risk of injury to those portions of the population vulnerable to the effects of mosquito spray.

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