Published online: Oct 15, 2011 Insecticide
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Two people were sickened Oct. 12 by a pesticide being used at a potato farm off Route 5 in the Town of Batavia, N.Y., Genesee County officials said.

Shortly before 8 a.m., a truck driver delivering materials to a business at 2975 Route 5 began suffering irritation to his eyes, nose and throat. He was then overwhelmed by a strong odor and began vomiting, according to Genesee County Emergency Manager Timothy Yaeger.

About the same time, a woman who lives nearby also reported similar symptoms. A HAZMAT team was dispatched to the area and Route 5 was closed to traffic between Hartshorn and Wortendyke roads.

The irritant dissipated through the course of the morning and the roads were reopened at 11:30 a.m. No evacuations were ordered but people in the area were advised to stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed.

The two people who became ill were treated by paramedics at the scene but were not taken to the hospital.

The pesticide that is believed to have caused the problem is a commonly used agricultural fumigant called chloropicrin, Yaeger said. "It's a fumigant injected into the soil to kill soil-borne diseases," he said.

Growers had begun applying the fumigant Monday. "They were prepping the field to plant potatoes [next year]," Yaeger said.

Yaeger said tests so far show that the growers were using a safe level of the pesticide within the guidelines of the state Department of Environment Conservation.