Manitoba accepting crop dusting spray complaints

The Manitoba government says it will look into complaints from people about crop dusting chemicals being sprayed close to their homes.
Marie Denbow of Turtle Mountain, Man., says she and members of her family have been unwell since a crop duster plane sprayed chemicals onto a nearby field a month ago. 2:09

The Manitoba government says it will look into complaints from people about crop dusting chemicals being sprayed close to their homes.

Complaints about aerial crop spraying are rare and are usually about insecticides drifting onto other people's crops, not on people themselves, says Jeanette Gaultier, a pesticide specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.

"Definitely we don't draw the line there. If it is human exposure, livestock exposure or pets, people can call here, and we do still go through our protocol," Gaultier told CBC News on Friday.

A woman from the Turtle Mountain area in southwestern Manitoba says she and her family — even their pet cat — have been ill since a crop duster sprayed pesticide on a nearby canola field in mid-August.

Marie Denbow said winds of up to 40 kilometres an hour caused the chemicals to drift from the field.

After coming into contact with the pesticide, Denbow said she and members of her family have experienced breathing problems, a burning sensation on their skin, and red eyes.

Numerous neighbours also reported feeling unwell, she said.

Gaultier said the family can file a complaint with the province, and it will be investigated.

The provincial department received about four complaints this year, she added.

In Manitoba, all commercial applicators must be licensed and certified, and operators must adhere to buffer zones specific to the chemicals being used.

However, Gaultier said it's too difficult for government to legislate notifying nearby residents when crop dusters will spray chemicals over nearby fields.

"There is no requirement for that. The reason is, I guess, it would be hard to write into legislation just because to limit drift," she said.

"It's really hard to pinpoint the exact time that a spray might happen."


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