LA Bus Drivers: Pesticides Are Making Us Sick

Petition calls for end to spraying in buses
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2013 12:03 PM CDT
LA Bus Drivers: Pesticides Are Making Us Sick
LA bus drivers say pesticides are harming their health.   (Shutterstock)

It's probably among the last places you'd expect pesticides to be sprayed: inside Los Angeles County buses. But that is indeed the case, and now bus drivers say they've become sick as a result. Some 110 drivers have signed a petition calling for the spraying to stop; 14 are seeking workers' comp over the issue and three have filed complaints with state health officials since 2011, the Los Angeles Times reports. Among their health allegations: headaches, nausea, and dizziness—which sometimes strike when they're behind the wheel.

A Metropolitan Transportation Authoritiy rep calls the spraying "common" and "standard industry practice" (though the LAT notes that other transit lines use a pesticide gel), something done to rid buses of the insects that munch on the crumbs left by riders. The vehicles are typically sprayed four times a year with pesticides made from natural or synthetic chrysanthemum substances; employees aren't permitted to enter for four hours following the application. And while these types of pesticides have been used in homes and on pets because they're considered safer than other options, state officials are investigating possible substance-usage violations, says an official. There haven't been any known health issues for passengers, but "if the drivers are getting sick, that is enough indication that it is not safe," says a bus riders' advocate. (More Los Angeles stories.)

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