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Introduced by Senator McCormack of Windsor County and Senator Lyons of Chittenden County

Referred to Committee on


Subject: Agriculture; pesticide application; West Nile virus

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to establish a public process in developing a plan to address the spread of West Nile virus, to establish guidelines for the development and implementation of mosquito abatement programs, to protect the public from unnecessary exposure to pesticides used in combating West Nile virus, and to educate the public on these matters.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 6 V.S.A. § 1113 is added to read:


(a) Legislative intent. It is the purpose of this section to ensure a uniform statewide and municipal approach to managing mosquito populations associated with West Nile virus, while ensuring protection of the environment and human health from the unintended effects of synthetic mosquito control agents.

(b) Definitions. As used in this section:

(1) "Adulticide" means any pesticide used to kill adult mosquitoes.

(2) "Agency" means the agency of natural resources.

(3) "CDC" means the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(4) "Department" means the department of agriculture, food and markets.

(5) "Larvicide" means a pesticide used to kill aquatic mosquito larvae.

(6) "Task force" means the Vermont arboviral task force.

(7) "Vermont plan" means the state of Vermont West Nile virus surveillance and response plan.

(c) Public participation in program and plan development. There shall be full public participation in the development of statewide arthropod vector management programs, and full public participation in the development of the plan.

(1) Prior to approval and adoption of the Vermont plan, the task force shall conduct regional public information meetings to solicit formal public comment on the development of the Vermont plan.

(2) Prior to adoption of municipal mosquito control programs, municipal

officials will hold public information meetings to solicit public comment on proposed actions.

(3) In all instances, public officials shall prepare and make available formal response to all public comments received at public information meetings held under this section.

(c) Statewide uniformity of mosquito management.

(1) The department shall provide advice to and coordinate municipal mosquito control programs, in order to: ensure optimal regional West Nile virus mosquito management; ensure that municipal control programs are in full compliance with guidelines established by the task force; and respect no-spray requests.

(2) All municipal West Nile virus mosquito control programs shall fall within binding requirements established by the task force. These requirements shall include the following:

(A) All pesticide applications shall comply with the requirements of this chapter.

(B) All applications of adulticides used in West Nile virus mosquito control may be by certified applicators only.

(C) Use of adulticides by municipal health authorities shall be preceded by written approval of the department and the department of health.

(D) All pesticide products and formulations shall be

preapproved by the department and the department of health.

(E) Use of larvicides and adulticides by municipalities other than those specific agents approved for use by the task force is prohibited.

(F) Prior to implementation of any municipal adulticide program,

all least toxic approaches shall be exhausted. These shall include public

education and programs to reduce backyard breeding areas, accompanied by

biological controls to disrupt insects in their larval stage.

(G) Adulticide spray programs shall not be initiated until CDC-approved West Nile virus human, equine, or avian disease thresholds have been reached.

(H) Statistically valid sampling of mosquito populations for presence of West Nile virus to determine species of affected mosquitoes shall be done prior to initiation of any spray programs.

(I) Within 72 hours following all larvicide and adulticide applications, a written or electronic record will be submitted to the department, including the pesticide product name, amount used, date of application, and location of application by name of both parcel and town.

(J) Upon request of an individual or a municipal authority, the department shall monitor pesticide levels in the environment through wipe tests of outdoor and indoor surfaces, checking air conditioner filters, evaluating water samples from bodies of water, and conducting soil and food residue tests from gardens and farms.

(K) The department of health shall alert hospitals about the health effects of the pesticides used, and shall provide information on appropriate treatment measures for those who are injured by pesticide use.

(L) The department of health shall monitor the public for adverse health effects, by setting up a hotline for receiving reports, collecting hospital records, and requiring physician reporting of incidents.

(d) Public notification prior to implementation of mosquito control measures.

(1) Additional public information meetings shall be held prior to implementation of municipal mosquito control programs.

(2) Upon decision to implement adulticide control measures, the public notice shall be issued in order to allow the general public to take precautionary measures to avoid exposure.

(3) Upon a decision to implement adulticide control measures, individuals requesting personal advance notification shall be individually contacted by the department.

(4) Upon a decision to implement adulticide control measures, the department of health shall advise area hospitals, schools and other buildings with especially vulnerable populations to take extra precautionary measures to prevent pesticides from making their way inside buildings.

(e) Spray hotline and web site. The department shall establish a telephone hotline and web site to enable the public to find out where and when pesticides are being used in West Nile virus control efforts, and to record public concerns and requests for spray exemptions.

(f) Public disclosure of all pesticide formulation ingredients. Prior to use of mosquito control agents, the department, on its web site, shall completely disclose ingredients used in all approved pesticides, including inert ingredients.

(g) Individual requests for exemptions from insect control programs. All requests by individuals to be exempt from West Nile virus pesticide spray programs, whether received in writing, over the telephone, by e-mail, or by personal communication to the department or to the municipal authority, shall be considered legal notification of a no-spray request, shall be conveyed to the applicator in a timely fashion, and shall be honored by the applicator. As in all other instances, protection from pesticide drift shall be the ultimate responsibility of the certified pesticide applicator.

(h) Restricted spraying around Vermont schools. Spraying around Vermont schools shall occur only with case-by-case authorization by the department of health, and shall not be left to the discretion of individual principals or superintendents.

(i) Nontarget monitoring before and after mosquito control implementation. Prior to and immediately following implementation of any West Nile virus broadcast aquatic larvicide and chemical adulticide programs, the agency shall monitor aquatic organisms and nontarget beneficial organisms to measure the effectiveness of the programs and nontarget effects.

(j) Sampling. Sampling of target and nontarget populations before and after spraying shall be statistically valid.

(k) Public education campaign about minimizing pesticide exposure.

(1) The department of health shall implement a broad education campaign that shall precede all municipal adulticide operations, and shall include education of the public about precautionary measures such as leaving the area, closing windows, turning off air intake on cooling or air handling equipment, bringing inside lawn furniture, toys and other outdoor items, and covering swimming pools.

(2) The department of health shall implement a West Nile virus pesticide education campaign detailing the potential dangers of home insecticide use, as an essential component of any municipal West Nile virus mosquito control program. The campaign’s focus shall be on nonchemical ways of avoiding mosquitoes, and information about the potential health dangers posed by excessive pesticide or repellent use shall be emphasized.