Pesticide spraying chases couple out of Grand Lake
August 2, 2009
To the Editor:
I kept my suitcases packed by the door. When the trucks pulled up with the huge tanks of neurotoxins, I was ready to go. As the men in masks and white suits jumped out, I hustled to my car, thankful that I was well enough to walk that far.
Six times since May 26, I left town as neighbors had their lodgepoles sprayed with pesticides, saturating huge areas with great plumes of the toxins soaring 60 feet into the air with overspray drifting into my yard. (And we thought second-hand smoke was bad.) I stayed away for days to avoid another neurological setback.
Getting on the “sensitivity list” costs a minimum of $160 for a trip to the doctor to have her fill out a form for review by the state. In return, all you get is 24-hour notice. You still have to leave town if you are like me, one of the many immune-compromised in Grand County. I skipped that ineffective, costly step and kept my eyes open instead, and my bags packed.
We often hear about protecting our “high-value trees.” But what about high-value humans? How about high-value children, high-value pregnant women, high-value elderly people, and high-value immune-compromised friends and family members? They are all more vulnerable to these neurotoxic, carcinogenic pesticides, like carbaryl and permethrin. Have greed and pride made us uncaring and apathetic?
And to add insult to injury, the pesticides are obviously not saving our trees.
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Meanwhile, my attempt to avoid the toxic spray failed. I was driving down Grand Avenue one beautiful day with the windows down. I didn’t see the man with the spray-gun along the roadside until it was too late. Before I knew what was happening, I got a lungful of pesticides. I rolled up the windows, drove home, took a shower, but my breathing had already slowed down. Shortly afterwards, the convulsions began. Within three days, I had spiraled downward again until I was unable to walk. Now I am in a wheelchair again. A neurological disease does not withstand exposure to neurotoxins very well. I’m back on medication to stop nocturnal seizures.
My husband and I have finally made the difficult decision to leave this lovely, formerly healthy town. So long, Grand Lake. We’ll miss you. But right now, I miss walking and breathing more.