RUTLAND (AP) -- A Rutland couple is suing the Vermont state agency that allegedly hired a bedbug exterminator who used a banned pesticide in their home, forcing them to move.
Neil and Patricia Whitney sued the Vermont Agency of Human Services in federal court last week. They claim that their home became infested after they took in a foster child, and that the exterminator hired by the state used a pesticide that has been banned for indoor use since 2001. Exterminator Cary Buck has denied using the pesticide.
The couple’s lawyer, Karl Anderson, said the Whitneys became concerned after Buck treated their home.
"All the surfaces were dripping," Anderson said. "The walls were dripping, the appliances were dripping and it was very clear that the house had been very heavily sprayed. "It smelled strongly of kerosene so they knew when they got there that they would not be able to go back into the house."
State officials are still testing hundreds of homes in Rutland County allegedly sprayed by Buck to be sure they are not contaminated with high levels of pesticides.
Cary Giguere, the pesticide section chief for the state Agency of Agriculture, said that 145 of the 437 homes that Buck has sprayed since 2009 have been inspected. Of those, 33 have tested positive for chlorpyrifos -- a pesticide banned by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for indoor use since 2001, but most showed low levels and the people remained in their homes.
The Whitneys home was one of several that had to be abandoned until they could be cleaned up.
The attorney general’s office is working with the Whitneys, and clean-up efforts for the hardest hit homes are expected to start this week.