Tulsa residents fuming over pesticide sprays

Sunday, August 3rd 2008, 10:25 pm
By: News 9

By Chris Wright for NEWS 9

TULSA, Okla. -- In an effort to guard against West Nile virus, some counties are spraying pesticide over hundreds of square miles, but one family experienced the spray firsthand.

The Fox family spends many of summer evenings strolling around the neighborhood but during a recent walk, they claim they were soaked by a passing pesticide truck.

"Kind of just a little bit irritating to the skin, and to the eyes, and I could taste it which wasn't that pleasant," Tulsa resident Katie Fox said.

More irritating to Fox was the fact that her two small children were exposed.

Her daughter is only one-month old, and she believes the pesticide inflamed her two-year-old son's respiratory condition. Fox said this could have been avoided with a simple heads up from the Health Department.

"There's no reason there couldn't be notification. There definitely should be notification of the areas and when, so people can prepare," Fox said.

Of course, we are in the midst of West Nile season. To combat the virus, the health department sprays over 800 square miles in Tulsa County each year.

Where it chooses to spray is based on the number of mosquito-related complaints, as well as wind conditions.

Officials said that makes it tough to plan ahead.

The Health Department said it doesn't know which neighborhoods, like this one, it's actually going to spray, until late in the evening. Officials said it's just pretty much impossible to notify everybody.

And if the pesticide posed a danger to people, the Health Department claims it wouldn't use it.

Still, the Fox family would prefer to avoid getting doused while walking around the block.

"I hope that next time, next year at this time, I won't have to have this concern. Hopefully this can be rectified," Fox said.

The Tulsa County Health Department said t does its best to avoid spraying pedestrians, but sometimes they simply can't be avoided.