In an attempt to kill insects drawn to buses by the food left behind by passengers, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority regularly sprays Los Angeles County buses with pesticides. But are these same chemicals making the drivers of the buses and perhaps even the passengers ill?
That’s what has been alleged by a group of at least 14 drivers in the midst of pursuing workers’ compensation from the agency. Since 2011, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has received complaints from three bus operators. Drivers have reported experiencing things like eye and skin irritation, nausea, headaches, and trouble breathing.
At the moment, no passengers have complained about the same, although anecdotal evidence from drivers suggests that odors can lead to vocal complaints. The Bus Riders Union and other groups worry that susceptible demographics, such as kids and elderly persons, might be getting sick and not know that the issue stems from the buses.
For their part, the MTA has downplayed the risk and said that steps are taken to ensure safety and compliance with standards across the industry. But although pyrethrin-based pesticides are widely thought to be safer than other types, the EPA has identified an increase in the number of reported health issues.
Drivers detail how they have had to cut their shift short due to the onset of flu-like symptoms. They also say that warning signage isn’t as common as the MTA claims.