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Fraser Health says doctors should look out for gypsy moth spray symptoms

Last Updated Apr 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm PST

Gypsy moth spraying in Cloverdale (April 18/15) (Courtesy Twitter @Doom4Life)

Health authority accused of sending mixed messages about gypsy moth spraying

Fraser Health says gypsy moth spray is harmless to humans, but has advised doctors to look for symptoms

SURREY (NEWS1130) – Fraser Health is being accused of sending mixed messages about gypsy moth spraying.

The province continued spraying for gypsy moths this week, with another round scheduled in the next two weeks. But although the pesticide is supposed to be harmless, Fraser Health is still warning doctors about it.

The health authority has said all along that Foray 48B is harmless to humans and only targets caterpillars in larvae form.

But it has now sent a letter to doctors, warning them to be on the lookout for symptoms like eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, coughing, shortness of breath, and other issues that could be related to the spraying.

Dr. Karen Bartlett with the UBC School of Population and Public Health has studied the pesticide.

She says warnings to stay indoors during the spraying are fair, but not because it’s toxic.

“Not so much because the chemical is terribly toxic, but it’s not good to inhale any foreign substance that you don’t need to. So staying inside with the windows and doors closed is a good idea,” says Bartlett, who was part of a study in the 1990s that looked into the effects of Foray 48B.

Ahead of the spraying, the province cautioned anyone with respiratory problems like asthma to stay inside during the two-hour spraying and then another 30 minutes afterwards.

“[The main component] BDK is not at all toxic to mammals or humans. So the recommendation to not be outdoors while they’re spraying is a reasonable recommendation,” says Bartlett.

The last time BC sprayed for the invasive moths was in 2011.