Headaches, bloodshot eyes, nausea, a bloody nose, diarrhea and dizziness are just some of the symptoms Marie Denbow said she’s battled since a cropduster spraying pesticides flew over her home.
“You could smell and taste it,” said Denbow, who lives in the Turtle Mountains near Highway 450 north of Lake Metigoshe.
“It was on my skin and in my hair. Initially you feel burning skin, burning eyes and a burning mouth.”
On Aug. 17, Denbow videotaped the plane flying over a group of homes adjacent to a canola field.
“I didn’t see spray coming out of his plane in the video, but the field is close to the homes and even though he might have shut it off the wind would have carried it forward,” said Denbow, adding there was a 20 km/hr wind in her direction from the field that day. “When he flew over top of me I immediately tasted it in my mouth.”
Denbow described the taste as “metallic” and said she had to take a shower ease the burning sensation she had on her skin.
She’s experienced similar situations in the past when farmers have sprayed crops in the neighbouring area, but this time was different.
“I don’t feel well and I have a hard time breathing,” Denbow said. “My eyes are always bloodshot and it has really taken a toll on me.”
Denbow’s four-year-old granddaughter also got sick and experienced symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea until she left the area.
Even the wildlife — mainly birds, squirrels and dragonflies — were affected, she said.
She also found her cat, which has since passed, vomiting after spending time in the yard.
While she isn’t happy, she insists she’s not against spraying.
“I’m not opposed to all spraying, but when it affects me I’m opposed to it,” Denbow said. “Keep the spray on your field and pick conditions where we don’t have to taste it and eat it and live in it.”
Anthony Raes, who owns the canola field, said he contracted Southeast Air Service to handle the spraying.
It was the first time he’s used the company.
“They are sort of new to the area,” he said.
Raes stopped at each home prior to spraying to “explain the situation and what was going to happen.”
Raes said he rarely ever sprays, but that it was absolutely necessary this year because of an infestation of bertha armyworms.
“The bugs were so bad that we would have lost our crop.”
A brand of chlorpyrifos was used to combat the pests.
Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide that kills insects upon contact by affecting the normal function of their nervous system, according to the National Pesticide Information Centre.
Exposure to humans may result in initial symptoms of blurred eyes, runny nose, increased saliva and sweat production and nausea.
Signs of progression include vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and muscle twitching.
Calls to the Altona-based spray company garnered no response as of press time.
However, Steven Kiansky, of Southeast Air Service, told the Manitoba Co-operator he couldn’t confirm if one of his applicators sprayed the homes, but said it’s sometimes necessary to fly over yard sites.
This is the first complaint of spray drift this year, and added that his company maps “sensitive” areas.
“We mark those fields off on the map and we’ll never be back there for the rest of eternity,” he said. “We don’t need the trouble, nor do we need the work that badly.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 20, 2013