As contaminated water concerns grow, Massachusetts towns urge the state to stop spraying pesticides in their communities

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To reduce the spread of eastern equine encephalitis and other mosquito-borne diseases, the state has sprayed millions of acres in recent years with a pesticide found to contain significant amounts of PFAS. The PFAS leached into the pesticide from its packaging.

Under pressure from environmental advocates who have long raised concerns about the ecological dangers of pesticide spraying, lawmakers added a provision that allows communities to seek exemptions from spraying. But the state can reject their requests.

The state didn’t give municipalities much time to decide, notifying them in March that they had to vote on the matter and submit an alternative plan by this month. The state, facing complaints, extended the deadline by two weeks to last Friday.

“There was physically no way [some] could have scheduled the necessary votes, written the opt-out application, and voted by the deadline,” said Kyla Bennett, director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in New England, an advocacy group.

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