State investigates pesticide misuse
The Agency of Agriculture summarily suspended the license of AAA Accredited Pest Control in July. The company is suspected of using a chemical (chlorpyrifos) to treat for bed bugs and other insects. Chlorpyrifos has been prohibited for indoor use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2001.
The state has obtained customer records from AAA from 2012 that show 150 residences, in addition to the 61 originally identified, that were sprayed with various pesticides. The state sent letters to those residents on July 8 asking permission to collect samples in homes for laboratory testing. The state is offering the testing at no cost.
"We're asking for everyone's assistance and patience, and we are grateful to the residents who have had their homes tested so far," said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. "We've been working closely with state and federal agencies and while the scope of our work has expanded, our approach is the same. We want to test the homes and then determine the best course of action to address any possible health concerns."
Chlorpyrifos can remain in a home even if it was treated months or years ago. Symptoms of short term exposure can include runny nose, tearing, increased saliva, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Long term symptoms can include problems with memory or sleep.
The prohibited pesticide was detected in 20 of the 61 homes tested to date.
Recommendations for clean up will be based on the amount of pesticide detected by laboratory testing. Test samples will be collected during the next several weeks.
For any questions about health effects, protective actions or testing call the Department of Health at 800-439-8550 or 802-652-0357.
If you feel sick after pesticide has been used in your home call your doctor or the Northern New England Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 or chat online at www.nnepc.org.
For more questions or information, dial 2-1-1 to call Vermont 2-1-1, United Ways of Vermont.
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