More news on softball field spraying in Moreau, New York that hospitalized 37 people
Thanks to No Spray Coalition
June 29, 2001
1. Pesticide spraying sickens 34 at town park
By JIM TRACY
MOREAU -- More than 30 people at a softball game in the town park off
Route 32 were sickened Monday evening after inhaling a pesticide that was
being sprayed nearby to control mosquitoes.
A total of 35 people -- including nine teen-age girls -- sought
treatment at Glens Falls Hospital after they had trouble breathing, hospital
spokesman Jayson White said late Monday. Some patients were given
oxygen and at least one passed out repeatedly, he said.
Moreau Emergency Squad Capt. Andre Delvaux said the chemical --
identified by the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department as FYFANON ULV, a brand
name for the pesticide malathion -- was being sprayed beyond the outfield
about 6:30 p.m. by a crew from Tree Care by Stan Hunt. Malathion is an
organophosphate, a class of insecticides that are chemical cousins of
About 7 p.m. Monday, people at the town park began complaining of
dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and dry mouth. One woman passed
while being interviewed by an emergency medical technician, Delvaux
"She was talking, and then all of a sudden, she said she didn't feel
fainted," Delvaux said.
The people who were sickened were players and spectators at an Amateur
Softball Association game at Harry J. Betar Jr. Recreational Park. They
told rescue workers they were overcome by a sweet odor emanating from
Efforts to contact Tree Care by Stan Hunt were unsuccessful Monday
Calls to the company's office were answered by a machine. But town
officials said they contracted with Hunt earlier this year to
conduct the town's annual spraying program to kill mosquitoes.
Councilman Larry Bulman said the company was supposed to be operating
under specific conditions. One condition was that the company send out
lead vehicle to make sure each area to be sprayed was clear of people.
Bulman said he was told there was no lead vehicle Monday night. The
condition, he said, was that spraying in public parks and schools would
take place before or after regular park hours to ensure that the least
number of people would be affected.
"I was blown away," Bulman said late Monday. "I was just shocked that
would do that. That's not what we discussed." He said the Town Board is
scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. today, prior to its regular board
and that Monday's incident would likely be a topic of discussion.
White said the people being treated at the hospital each had to disrobe
take a shower to remove the pesticide from their skin. The hospital
in extra respiratory therapists to treat the patients, he said.
"It's gone very smoothly under the circumstances," he said. White said
expected that all of the patients would be released. "We don't
admitting anyone," he said.
Moreau Supervisor Harry Gutheil said he visited the hospital Monday
"I'm sorry that it happened," Gutheil said. "We've had a very
spraying program over the years. People want spraying. We'll know more
about the incident (Tuesday)."
The girl softball players, who were 14 and 15 years old, felt ill and
stopped playing almost immediately, officials said. Spectators also
affected. One team was from the Clifton Park area; the other team
of girls from the Glens Falls area. Police cleared the fields of
and spectators when they
arrived on the scene.
A sheriff's deputy said the Department of Environmental Conservation
oversees the issuing of permits to use organophosphates.
Information on the DEC's Web site warns that malathion is "harmful by
swallowing, inhalation or skin contact" and urges people to "avoid
breathing spray mist" or allowing the chemical to come into contact
skin. The DEC requires people using the chemical to wear long-sleeved
shirts and pants and
wear chemical-resistant gloves.
Rescue squads from Moreau, West Glens Falls and Fort Edward helped take
patients to Glens Falls Hospital. Wilton rescue was on standby. The
incident remains under investigation by the Saratoga County Sheriff's
2. Town halts spraying program for now. Officials fault contractor for
By GRETTA NEMCEK
MOREAU -- The Town Board has asked a contractor to stop spraying
pesticides anywhere in town while it investigates an incident in which
people sought hospital treatment after being sickened at a town park
night. The board voted unanimously Tuesday night to send a letter to
Tree Care by Stan Hunt, asking the company to stop spraying until
The town has hired the company in recent years to spray pesticides
town roads to control mosquitoes. But the spraying program went awry
when at least 35 players and spectators at a softball game fell ill as
workers sprayed insecticides near the ballfield at Harry J. Betar Jr.
Town officials on Tuesday faulted Tree Care by Stan Hunt, saying the
contract required the company to notify officials of the approximate
and time when it would be spraying in specific areas. Officials said a
specific time had been arranged for spraying around the park, but they
crews showed up and began spraying about three days early.
Jim Hunt, of Tree Care by Stan Hunt, would not comment when contacted
Tuesday. Hunt and three officials of the state Department of
Conservation met behind closed doors Tuesday morning with town
Harry Gutheil Jr. and Councilman Larry Bulman. Gutheil and Bulman said
meeting could be closed to the public because a quorum of the Town
was not present.
Gutheil said the DEC requested the 11 a.m. meeting to make sure
was in compliance. After the meeting, Gutheil accompanied Hunt and the
officials to the park to show them exactly where the pesticide was
Officials have said the chemical sprayed at the park Monday night was a
pesticide called FYFANON ULV, which is 95 percent malathion. Malathion
an organophosphate, one of a class of chemicals that are considered
chemical cousins of nerve gas.
Town Recreational Director Edward Potter said he spoke with Hunt's
employees Monday evening and set up a time for them to spray while the
was closed --at 5 a.m. Thursday. He said he was supposed to leave the
workers a key so they could enter the park, as the town requires
spraying to take
place only before or after park hours. Instead, the spraying began
evening. Bulman said the town had made extra efforts to prevent
times when people at the park might be exposed to insecticides.
"The DEC doesn't have any regulations when you can (spray)," Bulman
"But the board, for the interests of our children and for our families,
did not want spraying done in that park -- and we do not want spraying
this day forward in that park during operating hours."
At the same time, though, Bulman and Gutheil each went out of their way
praise the work done by Tree Care by Stan Hunt prior to Monday's
Bulman said the firm has done a great job for the town and that no
complaints have ever been filed against them. On the contrary, people
town usually call to request pesticide spraying to kill mosquitoes in
neighborhoods, he said.
Gutheil said Hunt's company was in high demand last year because of the
West Nile virus scare. He also said the applicators intended to spray
the peripheral areas of the park, away from people. "Somehow it ended
the area where these children were playing, I don't think
He said town officials are concerned about the people who were affected
the spraying. "We're sorry that it happened, and we're gathering all
facts," he said. "If we get any other new information, certainly we'll
Bulman also said he feels bad for the parents and families who were at
park Monday evening. "I addressed this when we contracted with Hunts,"
Bulman said. "There was to be no spraying within the confines of the
in any way, shape or form, not even if this ballfield's not being used.
long as the park is open, there was to be no spraying within the town
3. Expert says risk of pesticide worse than West Nile
By JIM TRACY
MOREAU -- A Canadian doctor who has studied pesticides for the last 20
years said Wednesday that the chemical used to kill mosquitoes in
much more dangerous than the West Nile virus that mosquitoes can carry.
Dr. Libuse Gilka, an Ottawa physician who has practiced in both Europe
Canada for 40 years, recommends that a ban be placed on the pesticide,
malathion, which sickened at least 35 people at the Moreau town park
week. She said the recent "hysteria" over West Nile virus has many
bodies using dangerous chemicals to kill insects.
"The problem is people think if something is legally approved and sold,
then it must be safe," Gilka said. "They don't realize that those
these things are only slowly learning about the side-effects."
Meanwhile, town officials and officers from the state Department of
Environmental Conservation are continuing the investigation into what
wrong during Monday's softball game at Harry J. Betar Jr. Recreational
involving 13- and 14-year-old girls. Players and spectators fell ill
contractor, Tree Care by Stan Hunt, sprayed the pesticide along a tree
behind a playing field as part of the town's mosquito prevention
The people at the game inhaled the brand name pesticide, FYFANON ULV,
main ingredient is malathion.
Gilka said malathion is a chemical cousin of sarin, a highly toxic
gas that's been used in war.
Malathion can have dangerous long-term health effects, Gilka said,
the threat from the mosquito-borne West Nile virus is much less
Gilka said that statistics from last year showed that in New York City
seven people died of West Nile virus, but 2,800 died of the flu. She
five of the people who died from West Nile virus were elderly, already
and had weakened immune systems.
The state Health Department also recommended this year that pesticide
spraying be used as a last resort in preventing the spread of the
Part of the Health Department's plan is also to monitor complaints
Scientists from Cornell University's Environmental Risk Analysis
last year said pesticides pose a possible risk to humans and the
environment, and insects could also develop resistance to them.
On Monday night, players and spectators were treated and released from
Glens Falls Hospital after complaining of nausea, burning sensation,
dizziness and shortness of breath.
Coach Jeff Baker said one spectator was admitted overnight to St.
Hospital in Albany.
"We're working with the DEC to find out what happened," Moreau town
Supervisor Harry Gutheil said. "We didn't expect the contractor to be
the park at that time."
The Moreau Town Board has halted mosquito spraying while the DEC
its investigation. "We're looking into the whole aspect," DEC spokesman
Peter Constantakes said. "We're looking into the equipment, whether or
the people were trained and the pesticide application. ... The people
involved have been cooperating, and we're hoping to have answers
4. Woman still in hospital after pesticide spraying
By JIM TRACY
MOREAU -- An Albany County woman who inhaled a pesticide Monday at the
park remained hospitalized Thursday night in Schenectady, and an Albany
firm confirmed she has hired a personal injury lawyer to represent her.
Chris Olsen, 37, was listed in stable condition Thursday night at St.
Clare's Hospital in Schenectady. She was admitted to the hospital
after complaining of dizziness and respiratory problems, a hospital
Olsen, of Altamont, was one of at least 35 people who were sickened
being exposed to the pesticide Fyfanon ULV at a softball game Monday
in Harry J. Betar Jr. Recreational Park. Fyfanon ULV's main ingredient
malathion, a chemical related to nerve gas.
The group was sickened after a contractor hired by the town sprayed a
treeline behind the outfield. Eleven people were taken by ambulance to
Glens Falls Hospital, and many more sought treatment there later.
Sharon Lapier, an employee of the law firm Martin Harding & Mazzotti,
confirmed Thursday that Olsen has retained personal injury lawyer Paul
Harding to represent her.
Olsen's daughter, Renee, is a player on an area girls softball team,
Invaders, that was playing at the Moreau park Monday evening. Terry
Middleton of Fort Edward, another parent of a player on the team, said
Olsen's daughter was among two who missed a game Wednesday because of
exposure to the pesticides.
Both girls, however, are expected to travel with the team to a
double-elimination tournament in Syracuse today, coach Jeff Baker said.
"All the kids seem OK, and all of them plan to go to Syracuse," Baker
Middleton said his own wife and daughter were treated after Monday's
The team is made up of 13- and 14-year-old girls. Meanwhile, town
and the state Department of Environmental Conservation are
what went wrong with the spraying. The work was done by Tree Care by
Hunt Inc., a contractor the town hired for an annual roadside spraying
program to control mosquitoes.
Repeated attempts to arrange an interview with town Supervisor Harry
Gutheil Jr. were unsuccessful Thursday, and DEC officials did not
calls seeking information.
Town officials have halted the pesticide spraying program for now.
previously has expressed concern about controlling the town's mosquito
population, citing the discovery of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus
bird carcasses found in Saratoga County last year. Fourteen people in
New York City area were sickened by the virus last year.
But Dr. Libuse Gilka, an Canadian physician who has studied West Nile
and pesticides, said Thursday that thousands of people in New York City
tested positive for the virus last year but showed no illness. She said
normal immune system can combat the virus, and she contends pesticides
malathion pose a greater health risk than the virus.
5. Town Probes Park's Spraying
By Jim Rogalski - Saratoga bureau chief /Times Union (Albany)
Moreau-- Supervisor says field wasn't to be sprayed during game; 37
The mosquito pesticide that apparently sent 37 young ball players and
spectators to the hospital was not supposed to be sprayed on a softball
field during a game, the town supervisor said. "We wouldn't have sent
anyone in to spray fields with people in there,'' Town Supervisor Harry
Guthiel Jr. said Tuesday, as officials tried to piece together what
By the time the fog cleared Monday evening at the Moreau Town Park, a
of 37 youth softball players and spectators ranging in age from 6 to 52
were rushed to Glens Falls Hospital for respiratory problems from
to anti-mosquito fog sprayed from a truck. Guthiel said private
Tree Care by Stan Hunt Inc. of Queensbury was dispensing the pesticide
Malathion Fyfanon ULV as part of the town's battle against mosquitoes.
Guthiel said the softball field was not scheduled to be sprayed, and he
still investigating what happened.
At the hospital all 37 people received decontamination showers, given
clothes and released, according to hospital spokesman Jason White.
"It was a madhouse at the hospital. Everyone was upset,'' said Michael
Tirado, who was at the game. "It was embarrassing. There were people
masks and shields and gowns, and you're laying there naked.''
One victim, Chris Olsen, 37, of Altamont, was admitted to St. Clare's
Hospital in Schenectady on Tuesday afternoon with dizziness and
difficulty, her attorney Paul Harding said.
She was listed in stable condition and was expected to be admitted to
Intensive Care Unit, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Moreau has ordered anti-mosquito spraying in the spring and summer for
several years, Guthiel said. "We sign a contract with a vendor to spray
an as-needed basis. It's been very successful.''
The softball game was between the 14-under Miss Shen Sparks and the
Invaders, made up of players from around the region.
Officials from Tree Care by Stan Hunt Inc. did not return phone calls