Spraying for Mosquitoes

Sometimes communities ground or aerial spray pesticide to control mosquitoes in outdoor residential and recreational areas. Mosquitoes are a nuisance that impact quality of life, and they also can carry diseases, such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) or West Nile Virus (WNV).

Health Risks

Pesticides are used at very low concentrations to control mosquitoes, and no adverse health risks are expected with its use for mosquito control. Negative health impacts would only be associated with long-term, repeated exposures to a chemical, not a short-term spraying episode. People who may be particularly sensitive to chemicals could possibly experience short-term effects, such as eye, skin, nose or throat irritation or breathing problems. Some pesticide residues may be present on outdoor surfaces after spraying. Studies on other chemicals suggest the amount of pesticide transferred to skin decreases with more time after spraying (and very little transfers 24 hours after spraying). Pesticides break down from surfaces more rapidly when exposed to sunlight and water.

What you should do

Individual chemical sensitivities can vary; therefore, it is always a good idea to eliminate unnecessary exposures to all pesticides. All people, especially children and pregnant women should avoid exposure when practical.

  • If possible, remain inside or avoid the area whenever spraying takes place and for about 30 minutes after spraying. That time period will greatly reduce the likelihood of your breathing pesticide in air.
  • Close windows and doors, and turn off window air-conditioning units or close their vents to circulate indoor air before spraying begins. Windows and air-conditioner vents can be re-opened about 30 minutes after spraying. Managers of buildings with ventilation systems should shut off intake during spraying.
  • If you come in direct contact with a pesticide spray, protect your eyes. If you get Anvil spray in your eyes, immediately rinse them with water. Wash exposed skin. Wash clothes that come in direct contact with spray separately from other laundry.
  • Consult your healthcare provider if you think you are experiencing health effects from spraying.

What you may also want to do

  • If spraying just occurred, minimize your contact with outdoor surfaces and wash skin that has come in contact with these surfaces.
  • Pick homegrown fruits and vegetables you expect to eat soon before spraying takes place. Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables (in fact, all produce) thoroughly with water before cooking or eating them.
  • Cover outdoor tables and play equipment before spraying or wash them off with detergent and water after they have been sprayed.
  • Bring laundry and small toys inside before spraying begins (wash with detergent and water if exposed to the pesticide during spraying).
  • Bring pet food and water dishes inside, and cover ornamental fishponds to avoid direct exposure.
Adapted from the New York Department of Health Information Sheet on Anvil and Mosquito Control.