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Aug 31, 2009 3:51 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Quogue women say they were mistakenly doused by Suffolk County Vector Control truck

Aug 31, 2009 3:51 PM

While out for an evening stroll with her two sons—Charlie, 12, and Dylan, 11—a few weeks ago, Quogue summer resident Reyne Booth said she experienced an unpleasant surprise.

The three were walking down Assups Neck Lane at about 9 p.m. on August 10 when they heard a strange noise. Ms. Booth’s neighbor, fellow summer village resident Tina Boudreau, also ventured outside her home with her dog Polly to investigate the source of the mysterious sound.

“I was in my house, and there’s this noise,” Ms. Boudreau recalled. “It sounded like a plane or a boat,”

The two women soon observed a large, slow-moving truck traveling down Assups Neck Lane, spraying a mist. Ms. Boudreau said she could smell a chemical being emitted from the vehicle, which she identified as a Suffolk County Vector Control truck, and knew that it was spraying a pesticide.

Ms. Boudreau and Ms. Booth said the truck driver did not turn off the truck’s sprayer as he passed—and both they and Ms. Booth’s two sons were doused in mosquito-killing poison. “It was raining down on us,” Ms. Boudreau said.

The Suffolk County Vector Control truck was spraying a chemical is called Anvil, a pesticide that is used to control mosquitoes, according to Gilbert Anderson, the commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, the division that oversees Vector Control. Anvil contains the chemicals sumithrin, an insecticide, and piperonyl butoxide, a pesticide that increases the effectiveness of sumithrin.

Mr. Anderson said this week that “human error” was to blame for the incident on August 10. He explained that the county’s mosquito control truck drivers are instructed to turn off the mist-spraying devices whenever they pass people. He said that a resident of Rocky Point had filed a similar complaint with his department earlier in the summer.

Though he recommended that those accidentally sprayed with the chemical immediately wash any exposed skin, Mr. Anderson said the spray contains trace amounts of Anvil. “The material is not going to harm humans,” he said.

According to the New York State Department of Health’s website, short-term exposure to high doses of Anvil can harm the human nervous system. The website also states that exposure to the poison can have different effects on people depending on their age, sex and any preexisting medical conditions.

There have been no long-term studies examining the potential dangers to humans associated with Anvil and its use as a mosquito pesticide, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Mr. Anderson recommended that those mistakenly sprayed with the pesticide cover their eyes and immediately wash their clothing separately from other laundry. He also recommended that homeowners shut their windows and doors, and remain indoors whenever the Vector Control trucks are spraying a neighborhood.

Ms. Booth said she and her children took showers and washed their clothes right after the incident. “There didn’t seem to be any symptoms,” she said.

Both Ms. Booth and Ms. Boudreau agreed that what was most troubling about the incident is that the county, which Mr. Anderson said has been spraying chemicals to control mosquito populations since the 1930s, did not warn residents about its spraying schedule. Mr. Anderson said residents can learn about the schedule by checking with his department’s website. They can also call 852-4270.

According to the DPW website, Suffolk County Vector Control has not scheduled any additional mosquito pesticide sprayings for the remainder of the summer. The website also allows visitor to register for the county’s “no spray list.”

Though she and her children did not fall ill after the dousing, Ms. Booth said she still worries about potential long-term health issues.

“Twenty years down the line, I think we’ll know,” she said.

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you are advised of the spraying over all types of public service announcements...

you hear the truck coming down the road...

you identify the truck as a mosquito sprayer...

you remain outside as the truck passes and get doused...

Who is to blame here? LOL

The county should issue night vision goggles to all vector truck drivers.
By politcal pawn (121), Flanders on Aug 28, 09 6:45 PM
2 members liked this comment
A favorite summer evening pastime in my mother's neighborhood when she was a child was running behind the mosquito truck....
By flotsamandjetsam (5), WH on Aug 28, 09 10:29 PM
2 members liked this comment
In '63 we'd ride our bikes thru this heavy fog emitted by a truck, on our block. It turned out it was a vector control vehicle. 40 yrs. later everyone's fine, I think (LOL). I don't know if its the same chemical in use today. It was fun and it smelled great. It controlled the mosquito population and for that I'm thankful. Those were different days. We left our doors open and keys in our cars and our dogs loose and everyone was happy. THE END.
By Johnny Nova (83), Northampton on Aug 29, 09 10:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
this reminds me of the wizard of oz if i only had a brain
By asurest (117), easthampton on Aug 29, 09 12:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
If you are that stupid to file a complaint! You need to stay in the city and inhale all the toxic fumes! You MORON!!
By jonnyhampton (29), Southampton on Aug 29, 09 3:39 PM
maybe they look like big mosquitos?
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Aug 29, 09 5:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree with Jonny-if you are not smart enough to get out of the way - then stay in the city. Your studity is not the drivers fault.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Aug 29, 09 9:13 PM
It's one way to eradicate the pests---both the city ones and the mosquito variety.
By Uncle Fester (61), Southampton on Aug 30, 09 5:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
I grew up with the spray in the 70's...no nerve damage as of yet...
By mjb (14), This Island on Sep 1, 09 10:36 AM
Watch out Suffolk County Vector Control.....I smell a lawsuit from this IDIOT.......she'll be looking for a college fund for her kids..........mark my words.......lawsuit is on its way.........
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Sep 3, 09 12:11 PM
Hold on just a minute, To all these morons putting down this woman - may I just ask what was she supposed to do? She is out for a nice walk on a beautiful street with her two young boys and here comes a truck spraying chemicals ! Where exactly is she supposed to go? Is she supposed to run away, Is she supposed to run into a stranger's yard and seek shelter? Seems to me the moron in this case is the dope behind the wheel of the truck - probably laughed at them or just didn't give a crap! Real ...more
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Sep 5, 09 3:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Bill in Riverhead...ummmm yes she could have run into someone's yard until the truck passed and resumed her walk. I don't think anyone would have had a problem with it.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Sep 9, 09 12:36 PM
You know, we use to think asbestos was harmless. How about DDT or Chlordane. Why do you think it is standard county protocol to turn the sprayer off when people are around? Seems to me you folks badgering this woman may have stayed behind those pesticide sprayers a little too long!
By the way, go to the Peconic Baykeeper's website and read about what these mosquito sprays are doing to our estuaries. There's non-chemical alternatives for reducing the mosquito populations instead of spraying ...more
By Peconicken (1), Hampton Bays on Sep 21, 09 11:30 PM