Pesticide in Bug Spray Causes Health Problems for Missouri Man

4 years 10 months 2 days ago Thursday, July 18 2013 Jul 18, 2013 Thursday, July 18, 2013 12:04:00 PM CDT July 18, 2013 in News
By: Sam Hustis, KOMU 8 Reporter

BOONE COUNTY - A Boone County man who said he reacted badly to bug spray said living in Missouri can be a constant battle against nature.

"It's a war," said Craig Gromer. "You stop mowing for a minute and these woods are going to come in and eat you up. You stop on your garden for a minute and it's gone to the wildlife, so you've got to work out here all the time. You've got to defend what you can."

When Gromer saw bugs on his vegetable garden one day, he said, he did what he's done for years and pulled out his bug spray. But this time, he said, the bug spray not only attacked his garden, but him as well.

"We had some bugs on the Kale in the garden," said Gromer. "I was trying to get rid of the bugs and noticed some on the apple tree as well so I misted the apple tree."  A few days after he applied the bug spray, Gromer said, he knew something was wrong.  

"It really felt like just the worst case of flu you could imagine," Gromer said. "It felt like you needed to be fragile when you were walking because something was going to break."

The pain got worse, Gromer said. He described it like being kicked in the stomach by a horse.

He said he went to the hospital and was initially treated for a tick bite. The doctors tested Gromer's blood, he said, and the test came back with high levels of a a type of pesticide chemical, N-methyl carbamate (NMC)

The EPA identifies NMC, in a report that can be found here, as a group of pesticides that affect the same organ(s) or tissue in the body in essentially the same way.

The EPA looked at the three major ways that people can be exposed to NMC, food, drinking water, and contact through residental use, and found them safe to use.

"The Agency concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from exposure to the NMC pesticides covered by this cumulative risk assessment."

Dave Harr, an employee at Lakewood Home & Garden Showplace in Columbia, said there are preventative measures that a gardener can take to help reduce the risk of infection from using pesticides.  

"It's very important to identify the type of pest that you're trying to work with so that you do pick up the right kind of chemical," said Harr. "Bring [a sample] in in a clear plastic bag or go to the Internet and look it up."

Harr gave other helpful tips to keep you safe while using pesticides:

  • Follow and read directions on label
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Wash clothes after using chemical
  • Do not eat before you wash or shower
  • Clean the equipment that you use

Harr said you should also spray in the early morning or before the sun goes down.

"You want to spray when you don't have any wind movement, or just so it's under five miles an hour," said Harr. "Generally you'll find that early in the morning, or early in the evening hours."

Gromer said next time he uses the spray, he'll read the label more carefully.

"There were all kinds of warning all over this thing that I really should have read and did not."

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