The Dangers of Pesticides

Myron Berney
Myron Berney

KAIMUKI (KHNL) -- KHNL's Safety Alert coverage continues with the hazards of using pesticides to kill bugs in your garden.

In Kaimuki, residents complained of an overwhelming odor so strong, HAZMAT crews came to check it out.

A resident only used a spoonful of insect killer to spray a bush. It may seem harmless, but neighbors as far as a block away say they had to shut their windows.

"I really not use it too much, just once in a while," said Hyang Sok Kim of Kaimuki.

Kim didn't expect her green thumb would cause so much commotion.

"One tablespoon of this one and one gallon of water and one spray on this tree to kill this kind insect, yeah," she said.

But the fumes coming from the pesticide she used on the bush were so strong, one neighbor called 911.

"It was a knock out here. The neighbor up the street said she was getting dizzy and nauseas. It was pretty strong," said Myron Berney, a neighbor.

HAZMAT crews arrived and watered down the bush. Firefighters say Kim mixed the insect killer correctly, but oversprayed the plant.

"It's actually a bigger problem here than in other states because we have year round climate, we have great climate," said Robert Boesch, Pesticides Program Manager with the Department of Agriculture.

Boesch says to avoid pesticides that contain naphthalene.

"There are two chemicals that cause the most complaints in Hawaii. One is malathion and one is a wood preservative called copper naphthenate."

Another option - organic bug killers.

"This is pyrethrin, it comes from daisies and doesn't hurt people or things with back bones but it kills the bugs," said Berney.

But Boesch says the most simple yet important advice of all is to follow directions and be sure to read the fine print.

Kim says she's used the pesticide before but this is the first time she's received a complaint.

Firefighters say the windy weather is to blame and advise people not to spray plants when gusts are high.