• Pesticide probe involves hundreds of Rutland County homes
    By
     | November 08,2013
     

    A state regulator said Thursday officials are still testing hundreds of homes in Rutland County sprayed by exterminator Cary Buck to make sure they’re not contaminated with high levels of pesticides.

    Five months after the state suspended the professional license for Buck, owner of AAA Accredited Pest Control in North Clarendon, the pesticide section chief for the state Agency of Agriculture said inspectors aren’t half done testing the 437 homes that Buck has sprayed since 2009.

    “We’ve got final results on 145 homes right now,” Cary Giguere said.

    Of those 145 completed inspections, 33 have tested positive for the presence of chlorpyrifos — a pesticide banned by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for indoor use since 2001.

    Most of the contaminated homes showed low levels of the pesticide and most are still inhabited by their owners, Giguere said.

    But a handful, including a home owned by Neil and Patricia Whitney in Rutland, had such high concentrations of the potentially deadly chemical in their home that the occupants were forced to relocate.

    Asked if any of the people living in the contaminated homes had reported any adverse health conditions, Giguere said medical confidentiality prohibited him from commenting.

    But he said, “A common response we hear is that someone used to have pets.”

    Chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin, isn’t fatal to adults in small concentrations. Common symptoms are memory loss and numbness. The chemical is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women, he said.

    Health Commissioner Harry Chen said in September that the state Department of Health and the EPA are working together to clean the homes that Buck reportedly contaminated. Chen couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

    Buck has denied using the chemical.

    But Giguere said Thursday that regulators had found a “stash” of chlorpyrifos that Buck was hiding in the basement of his North Clarendon home.

    “He had enough stashed away to last another 10 years,” Giguere said, adding that Buck stocked up on the chemical just before it was removed from the market in 2001.

    The pesticide chief said Buck didn’t appear to have used the chemical at every home he sprayed.

    Giguere said his office would issue a final enforcement against Buck soon.

    Giguere said the Vermont attorney general’s office’s criminal division was reviewing the case, but he didn’t know the status of the investigation.

    A call to that division Thursday wasn’t immediately returned.

    @Tagline:brent.curtis @rutlandherald.com

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