Students get rashes, UD’s pesticide use questioned
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 00:10
After lying on The Green reading a book before class, junior Kelsey Crane stood up to find something surprising.
“I noticed there was this weird rash on my legs which wasn’t there before I was on The Green,” Crane said.
Crane said she has played soccer her whole life, but this was the first time she had an adverse reaction to grass. She said a rash appeared on her legs immediately after coming into contact with The Green. Crane said she did not seek treatment for it, and it faded by the end of her class that day.
Crane said she had no way of knowing the grass she was lying on had been chemically treated less than 24 hours prior to her coming into contact with it. The day before, the university grounds crew was seen in hazmat suits, spraying chemicals on the North and South Green.
Crane said she was not notified that the grass had been chemically treated. She said she did not see any signs restricting people from the area.
University Spokesman John Brennan stated in an email message that workers are not required to post signs when areas are sprayed because the chemicals are not harmful when used properly, and personnel are trained in how to apply them.
Brennan said groundskeepers use herbicide sprays called Basagran T/O and PowerZone to treat weeds on The Green. He said the sprays are commonly-used commercial products and are registered for use with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“They are recognized in the industry as safe when applied as directed,” Brennan said.
Sophomore Dylan Lecce said when he was exercising on The Green approximately two weeks ago with a group of people, he came in contact with the grass. He said minutes after contact, he and a majority of the group noticed their faces were irritated. Lecce said his eyes were burning as well.
“My skin was pretty much on fire,” Lecce said.
Like Crane, Lecce said he does not have a grass allergy. He said the irritation lasted about an hour, and then it went away.
Brennan said the university policy is to follow the best environmental practices when applying herbicides and other related products because safety is a priority. Grounds Services personnel are trained to use a low rate of application, only apply herbicides when necessary and spray them at times when there is not a large amount of people in the area, Brennan said.
“Safety of the general public on campus is a top priority, which is why Grounds Services personnel are trained to stop spraying if there is a concern for exposure and will resume at a later time when the area is deemed safe to apply the herbicide,” he said.
PowerZone’s safety information stated areas of grass treated with the chemical should be restricted from use until 48 hours have passed since the last application. It warns that the spray can cause eye irritation and allergic reaction if it comes in contact with skin frequently or for a prolonged amount of time. It also said to avoid contact with skin, eyes and clothing.