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MTA bus drivers say pesticide fumes are causing illnesses

The Metropolitan Transit Authority says that a serious bug problem exists on buses, apparently due to not only an increase in ridership, but an increase in the number of people eating on the bus. The MTA says that it is necessary to spray MTA buses one every three months to control the bugs and reduce the risk for infestation.

But bus drivers are complaining of the effects of continuously inhaling pesticide fumes while on the job. One driver says that he got so sick from the fumes that he decided to retire after 23 years behind the wheel. He says that he suffers headaches and shakes uncontrollably at times from his exposure to the pesticides. He has to deal with nausea and vomiting—he says he notified the MTA that his doctors want him to stay away from pesticide fumes before he retired. He was told to just keep on driving—leading to continuing exposure to the fumes, according to KABC News.

More than 100 drivers reportedly have signed a petition asking the MTA to stop spraying the buses. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is looking into the safety of the pesticide use. The MTA says that they are following OSHA requirements.

Occupational diseases can result from exposure to hazardous materials or toxins in the workplace. It is not just bus drivers who may be exposed to something in the air. Construction workers, factory workers and staff in an office may be exposed the chemicals or toxins in the air—leading to an occupational illness or disease.

The Los Angeles Times reports that at least 14 MTA drivers are pursuing workers’ compensation claims related to the pesticide issue. While the one driver told KABC that he decided to retire three months ago, other drivers reportedly are on medical leave due to health issues arising from pesticide exposure on the job.

Source: KABC-TV, “Some MTA bus drivers claim illness from routine pesticide spraying," Leo Stallworth, June 18, 2013; Los Angeles Times, “Some L.A. County bus drivers say pesticides are making them ill,” Dan Weikel, June 16, 2013

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