Tuesday August 21, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The mosquito spraying that will take place in parts of Berkshire County over the next two weeks is safe and should not present a risk to the public, according to Chris Horton, the executive director of the Berkshire County Mosquito Project.

The chemical spray is called Duet, a combination of two pyrethroids called sumithrin and prallethrin. Pyrethroids are synthetic insecticides similar to pyrethrins, which are naturally occurring in chrysanthemum flowers.

The Berkshire County Mosquito Project started spraying earlier this month to kill mosquitos after the recent discovery of West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. Areas in Pittsfield and five other towns will be sprayed again starting on Wednesday.

"The spray is made and labeled to be specifically used in residential areas," Horton said. "We over-emphasize the safety standards because of the work we do. Mosquito control is the only insecticide used in public areas. It's a unique application."

Duet will be applied at a significant dosage of .62 ounces over an acre.

"That's such a small dosage that there's little chance of significant exposure," Horton said.

Even in the areas with a higher concentration of a mosquito population because of their wetland locations -- Coolidge Playground and Clapp Park are two examples -- .62 ounces will still be uniformly applied to all areas.

Still, in a news release, the Berkshire County Mosquito Project listed steps to avoid unnecessary exposure including closing windows and doors; turning off fans and air conditioners; staying inside during the application period between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.; rinsing any produce grown outside with water; and bringing in all laundry hanging from clotheslines.

"Our goal is to target the mosquitoes -- not people, their houses, their laundry, or their pets," Horton said.

Nearly 30 residents have requested the areas near their homes not be sprayed, Horton said.

"There's always a handful of people that are worried. Some are extra-sensitive to chemicals being sprayed near them," Horton said.

One person with reservations is Jean Wren, who lives on Lebanon Avenue and within the boundaries being sprayed with Duet on Wednesday. She is currently under going chemotherapy and radiation for a cancer that she's not sure how she got, so chemical spray makes her a bit uneasy, she said.

"I don't feel good about it, I don't know what it will do," Wren said, as her and her husband James stood on their front porch and occasionally swatted what was possibly a mosquito.

"They're horrible out here. I'm OK with them spraying," James Wren said. "Nobody out here wants it, but I don't see a problem with it. I used to ride my bike through it when I was a little kid."



Spraying schedule, locations

The Berkshire County Mosquito Project will be spraying for mosquitos starting Wednesday and continuing to Aug. 28 in Pittsfield and several other area towns. Spraying has already taken place in Pittsfield after mosquitos tested positive for West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephilitis. The spraying will take place between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., weather permitting, within a one-mile radius of where West Nile-infected mosquitoes were detected and within two miles of where EEE-infected ones were pinpointed.

The spraying locations and schedule are as follows:

Wednesday: Southwest Pittsfield. Areas south of West Street and west of South Street. Two-mile radius from West Housatonic Street at Callahan Drive.

Thursday: Southeast Pittsfield. Areas south of East Street and east of South Street. Two-mile radius from Elm Street at Williams Street.

Friday: Northeast Pittsfield. Areas north of East Street and east of North Street. One-mile radius from North Street at Crane Avenue. One-mile radius from Coltsville Corners.

Saturday: Northwest Pittsfield. Areas north of West Street and west of North Street. One mile-radius from West Street at Forthill Avenue.

The following towns were also listed for the adulticide spraying applications:

Thursday in Sheffield.

Friday in Stockbridge and Tyringham.

Monday in Hinsdale.

Tuesday (Aug. 28) in Otis.

In a news release, the Berkshire County Mosquito Project said residents may want to take steps to avoid unnecessary exposure to the spray. Those steps include closing windows and doors; turning off fans and air conditioners; staying inside during the spraying; rinse vegetables from the garden with water; and removing laundry from clothes lines.

For more information, the Berkshire County Mosquito Project can be reached at (413) 447-9808 or on Facebook. Residents can also call that phone number to request to opt out of spraying near their homes.