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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Ilze Drozds-Russano, a Corolla, N.C. resident was walking her dogs last month near her home when she heard a helicopter above her and then felt a cool mist hit her skin. Russano stated that her eyes immediately began to burn and she couldn’t open them. She quickly returned home and washed herself and the dogs off. But within hours of contact with the spray a rash formed on her skin and she had difficulty breathing. This continued for several days accompanied with flu-like symptoms.

Frank Russano, the victim’s husband, took her to the doctor but the doctor was unable to treat her or make a diagnosis because of the unknown ingredients in the chemicals. It was discovered that the chemical that landed on her skin was the chemical known as Foray 76B which was being sprayed in Currituck County and parts of Dare Count y to control gypsy moths. The ingredients in the chemical Foray 76B is trade secret and is owned by a Canada-based company.

The spraying of the chemicals is done annually to control the gypsy moths from destroying the trees and foliage in the area. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences had previously held a meeting in Barco to inform residents of reasons for the spraying and the schedule of times and places it would be sprayed. According to the report by the it is unclear if the Russano family attended this meeting. However, it is reported that for those that couldn’t attend the meeting where sent postcards detailing the times that the spraying would take place. Russano’s husband stated he did receive the postcard and said, “All the information kept telling us how safe it was.”

On the day of the original spray date the winds were too high to complete the spraying so an alternative date was set. Unfortunately, no postcard was sent to the residents with the new date, nor was there a community meeting held to inform residents. Mr. Russano said there was a small sign at the Carova Fire Station, but stated, “When I go up there I’m not looking for notices about gypsy moths.” He also claims that the helicopter pilot was outside of the service range and therefore the accident should never have happened.

The Russano’s sent a letter to the N.C.D.A.C.S. and to county officials and informed them of the accident and her experiences of illness. County Manager Dan Scanlon stated “I’ve never heard a complaint like this before. I think it’s horrendous.” The county is not involved in the case, but the officials are concerned for Russano. The stated, “John Dalley, eastern district manager for pesticide operations with the NCDACS said he was aware of Russano’s complaint, but could not comment on the details of the case because the investigation is ongoing.”

As an experienced personal injury lawyer it is my concern for victims in cases such as the Russano’s that not only should the illnesses at the time of the incident be a concern but the potential risks of health problems and long term effects that could develop from a potentially harmful chemical.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY, who handle car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. KF

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