LIHUE — A Kilauea resident says he was exposed to pesticides while driving with his windows down as he passed a DuPont Pioneer agricultural field in Lihue Wednesday morning.
The incident reportedly occurred around 10:30 a.m. along Ahukini Road, between the Lihue Airport and Wilcox Hospital.
Larry Schneider, 57, said he was on his way to Mac Made Easy to have his computer fixed when he inhaled what smelled like a combination of Juicy Fruit gum and petrochemicals. He said his eyes and skin began to burn and lips and fingers went numb.
“It was pesticides,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
But Laurie Yoshida, communications manager at DuPont Pioneer, said she checked with company operations and “no pesticide applications were being made at that time.”
Employees were in the area working on other duties, she said.
Schneider, a former surgeon and medical professor, said he immediately called the National Pesticide Information Center, which told him to contact local authorities.
County spokeswoman Beth Tokioka confirmed a report was filed Wednesday with the Kauai Police Department.
According to KPD, a man did report that he had been sprayed with pesticides while driving westbound on Ahukini Road this morning, she wrote in an email Wednesday.
“Police did not observe any injuries on the man and they say he refused medical attention.”
Schneider said he opted not to go to nearby Wilcox Hospital because he knew doctors would not be able to do anything unless they knew what pesticides he had been exposed to. Instead, he drove to the beach and jumped in the ocean to rinse off.
“I just wanted the poison off me,” he said, adding that he also suffered from a headache, blotchy skin on his palms and back, a runny nose and rapid pulse and breathing.
Tokioka said Schneider’s call was received by KPD dispatch at 11:24 a.m. and officers were dispatched to meet him at Starbucks.
Schneider claims one of the responding officers immediately asked him his position on County Bill 2491. When Schneider told the officer he was a supporter of the bill, the officer walked away, he said.
If passed, Bill 2491 would allow the county to govern the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms on the island.
In addition to the pesticide hotline, Schneider said he called Pioneer, as well as local and state representatives at the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health.
A Pioneer employee returned his phone calls on Thursday afternoon, he said.
“He just said they didn’t spray yesterday and so there’s no responsibility,” Schneider said. “I said, ‘Look, I was driving down the street. I got sick, all these things happened.’”
By Thursday afternoon, Schneider had not heard back from the DOH, DOA or the pesticide hotline.
“It’s unreal,” he said. “There’s no data collection on this. There will probably be nothing that comes of this.”