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Los Gatos Woman Sickened By Pesticide Exposure in Saratoga

After inhaling chemical the morning of March 27, she spends afternoon in hospital being treated for toxic chemical contamination.

Los Gatos resident Robyn Stone says she became severely ill and required hospitalization the afternoon of March 27 after being exposed to a pesticide sprayed on Montalvo Road in Saratoga.

"I don't know who's responsible. Maybe it's the owners of the property," she said about the incident last Wednesday morning during which she inhaled a mist of the chemical being sprayed near a large Coast Live Oak tree at 14720 Montalvo Rd.

Stone said she spent the afternoon at Kaiser Santa Teresa hospital.

"I could smell and taste chemicals which began to burn my eyes, nose and throat," said Stone, 43, who added she was exposed after checking out books at the Saratoga Library and driving down Highway 9 with her windows down intending to read a book in the sculpture garden at Villa Montalvo.

As she rounded the corner of Highway 9 and Montalvo Road, Stone said she noticed a worker wearing protective gear and a ventilation mask spraying the tree with the chemical using a large hose.

By the time she reached the parking lot at Montalvo, Stone said she was nauseous, dizzy and shaking. Staff at the box office called the paramedics who treated her for toxic chemical exposure and took her to the hospital. 

"I was stunned. I didn't know what to do," she said. "When the emergency personnel arrived they had to wash my eyes out with saline solution. I had to have an IV. I received oxygen. I was having trouble breathing."

At around 4 p.m. that day, when she returned with her husband to Montalvo to collect her car, the tree still had pools of the chemical near it running into the adjacent drain marked "No dumping! Flows to Bay." 

Stone believes she was exposed to an unknown insecticide.

"No one can say what the long-term effects of toxic pesticide exposure will be to my health," she said, adding that town residents are already exposed to pesticides due to annual spraying of Round Up along a two-foot-wide swath of land on both sides of the Los Gatos Creek Trail at Lark Avenue and Charter Oaks Drive.

"Our children get an extra dose of Round Up at school because it is regularly sprayed on Los Gatos Union School District campuses to control weeds and make perfect circles at the base of every tree," she said.

Stone said she's against the use of chemical pesticides because research indicates that children exposed to them, either in utero or during other critical periods, face significant health risks.

"Pesticides are dangerous to pests, pets and people. They are engineered to cause death. Harms to human health are very well documented, with children especially at risk," she said.

The mother of one said she's contacted Saratoga city officials so they're aware of the incident. She's also in contact with some pest control companies to alert them of the incident.

Stone is hoping someone in the community with information about the company that was there that day spraying will contact Patch so the responsible party can be made aware that precautions need to be taken to avoid getting others sick.

"I want them to be aware so that this can be prevented. Residents need to be warned when this pesticide treatment is going to be done. There should have been cones or signage, but nothing was placed to warn the public that day."

Judy Stanley April 03, 2013 at 09:29 PM
About 3-4 weeks ago my 2 dog walking friends and I were walking up past Ming Quong on Phillips Road which connects to South Kennedy Road. Some workers came driving along the road in a white work truck spraying a chemical all over the side of the hill where we were walking. We immediately covered our faces and noses with our jackets so that we wouldn't inhale anything. It really surprised us that they just kept on spraying with us walking within 10 feet of them. We walk this route daily so we know it well. I am thankful that nothing like the above happened to us that happened to this poor woman who was driving up to Montalvo.
Robyn Stone April 03, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Thank you, Ms. Sanchez, for raising awareness about this important topic. If more residents report these incidents, maybe we can get pest control firms and the Town itself to use precautions such as warning signs before and after a chemical application. Others around California are making their voices heard, too: http://www.pesticidewatch.org/ http://www.panna.org/
MichaelJ April 03, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Proper signs should be posted whenever this type of work is performed. It should not be assumed that people will not be affected by this type of exposure. This type of reaction combined with an asthma attack could prove lethal to someone.
Esmée St James April 11, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Why spray toxic chemicals anywhere? There has to be some more organic alternative to poisoning everything that doesn't look good. It is surprising the stuff is still in use. It gets in our lungs, our drinking water and kills things in nature it is not intended to thereby creating an ecological imbalance. I wonder why chemical pesticides are being used at all. It scares me.

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