New York Woman Drenched with
Pesticide by City
Saturday, September 09, 2000
Artist: I’m A Victim Of Skeeter Spraying
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief
She wanted to make a phone call.
Instead, a Manhattan woman standing near a phone booth on
Eighth Ave. Sunday ended up in the hospital after she said she was drenched,
point-blank, with a blast of pesticide intended to kill mosquitoes carrying West
Bug Spraying in Midtown Manhatten last July
"It burned. It itched. I was coughing, I was
choking," said the woman, an artist who lives in Inwood but asked that her
name be withheld.
"My vision is blurry. I have terrible nausea. I threw
up three days in a row," she said. It was "a straight shot into my
face, my eyes, my nose, my mouth — drenching me."
"I really thought I was going to die."
The case raises questions about the account of city
officials, who as recently as yesterday insisted they were unaware of any
incident in which New Yorkers suffered health problems as a result of exposure
to the insecticide being used to kill mosquitoes, Anvil.
The woman said she reported the case to city and state
health agencies, and said she was given a diagnosis of "pesticide
exposure" at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she was treated Monday.
The hospital confirmed the woman was an emergency room
patient, but refused to disclose her diagnosis because of confidentiality rules.
A city health official confirmed that the woman called the
city's pesticide hotline just after the incident to complain of itching and a
Sandra Mullin, a Health Department spokesman, said the call
was one of 200 complaints from people who suspect they've been sickened by the
anti-West Nile spraying.
"Those are still being analyzed to see if they are
associated with the spraying," Mullin said.
State Health Department spokesman Kristine Smith confirmed
that at least one of four cases of reported pesticide poisoning under
investigation is in New York City.
But she declined to say whether it involved the same woman.
In a letter to Mayor Giuliani yesterday, Manhattan Borough
President Virginia Fields complained that not enough is being done to avoid
According to the woman, she was waiting with a friend to
use a pay phone at 58th St. and Eighth Ave. Sunday at 10:45 p.m. when a truck
escorted by a police car passed just a few feet from where she and several other
pedestrians were standing.
"A car came with police lights, and it's making the
noise like they are escorting a dignitary," she said. "I thought we
were going to see the President."
"All of the sudden, [the truck] comes through the
intersection. ... I see spray coming out of the spray truck ... 4 to 5 feet in
front of my face. ... Everybody goes, 'Oh my God.'"
The Health Department said spraying was conducted in
Manhattan on Sunday between 23rd and 110th Sts. from midnight to 5 a.m. — 75
minutes later than the woman reported being sprayed.
The woman's effort to get help turned into a Labor Day
She said she called a city poison line, only to find a
recording. Eventually, she said she spoke with officials at a New Jersey poison
hotline, who advised her to shower thoroughly and rinse her eyes.
But the effects persisted, sending her to the hospital
Monday. She has visited her eye doctors three times and is returning to the
The woman, who has a form of asthma that reacts to
chemicals, said she is concerned about the long-term effects of the Anvil blast
because she also is at high risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer.
"I'm on the edge of having cancer, and what is this
going to do?" she asked.
Anvil, a pesticide used to kill mosquitoes, contains sumithrin and piperonyl butoxide. Sumithrin is a synthetic pesticide similar to a natural pesticide, pyrethrum. Piperonyl butoxide increases the effectiveness of sumithrin.
Possible side effects from Anvil spraying:
Eye, skin, nose and throat irritation, breathing problems.
Coughing, rash, blurred vision, nausea, tremors, dizziness, swollen tongue.
Long-term health effects:
Sources: N.Y.C. Department of Health,
N.Y. State Department of Health,
Environmental Health Perspectives. Environmental Health Perspectives.
Original Article: http://www.mostnewyork.com/2000-09-09/News_and_Views/City_Beat/a-79389.asp
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