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Residents would need to be notified of aerial sprays five business days in advance, under new bill


New state house legislation would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to give residents more notice before conducting aerial sprays.

The legislation is in response to the state’s use of aerial sprays to kill mosquitoes in an effort to keep Eastern Equine Encephalitis from spreading across Michigan.

The state has reported five people have died from the virus.

Republican State Representative Brad Paquette introduced the measure. He said many of his constituents raised concerns about the spraying.

“I started asking my colleagues about it as well and they had a lot of folks that were chirping in saying they didn’t know exactly what was going on and they didn’t know the chemical that was being sprayed,” he said.

Paquette said the state did its best to respond to an evolving situation.

“There wasn’t enough transparency,” he said. “It fell over the weekend with the notification period. So this legislation requires that there are at least five business days giving residents a chance to ask questions and make informed decisions within the opt out process.”

The state did host a website which included a list of scheduled spray dates - but that list was flexible to allow for weather related delays.

Under Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development rules residents are allowed to request an opt out 48 hours prior to an aerial spraying. An area of 1,000 by 1,000 feet around the residence of a person who opted out was not sprayed.

Lynn Sutfin, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said opting out does reduce the effectiveness of the aerial treatments.

Sutfin said that the department is reviewing the legislation and does not have a comment on it at this time.