Tempers flared during a community meeting in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego on Tuesday over concerns regarding mosquito pesticide spraying in the area.
San Diego County workers sprayed mosquito pesticides in the neighborhood to prevent the Zika virus from spreading after a suspected case in the area. By law, the county can spray on private properties to kill mosquitoes capable of spreading the Zika virus.
On Tuesday night, resident gathered at Grape and 30th streets to voice their concerns, saying they weren’t notified of the spraying and are worried that the chemicals may be harmful.
“Seeing men in yellow suits a block away from my house and I’m supposed to go to work,” said South Park resident Selena Isela.
Mount Hope resident Brad Michels told NBC 7 that he attempted to stop county workers from spraying but was told he could be arrested.
“They said ‘you’re not letting us spray, you're violating a court order and we have the right to arrest you’,” Michels said.
Officials from the San Diego County Vector Control Program said they are trying their best to involve residents but ultimately have to prioritize public safety.
“The dose at which we are applying is so low it really is just targeting those small insects like mosquitoes. The half-life is really so low. It degrades rapidly,” Supervising Vector Ecologist Chris Conlan said.
According to Conlan, the county usually gives residents two to three days’ notice before spraying and on the day-of, they knock on doors and leave letters for residents.
But he said they need to spray in a timely manner because it takes 10 days for an infected mosquito to transmit the Zika virus to a person.
“Time is a luxury in this case we just don’t have,” he said.
He told NBC 7 that they have sprayed multiple times already throughout the county and will continue to work with residents.
Conlan recommends that residents stay indoors and keep pets inside while pesticides are being sprayed.