Beverly Terrillion of Levittown is suing a dozen large insecticide...

Beverly Terrillion of Levittown is suing a dozen large insecticide companies over her husband's death. (Jan. 17, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

Insecticides that Nassau County's late mosquito control supervisor used on the job caused his death from cancer, his widow says in a lawsuit.

Beverly Terrillion of Levittown says she is suing a dozen large insecticide companies across the country, claiming their products caused her husband Gregory's death at age 55, after a diagnosis of kidney cancer and lymphoma.

Terrillion said she has also filed a workers' compensation claim with the county.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Mineola, says the insecticides her husband used were "harmful, hazardous, deadly, dangerous, toxic and/or carcinogenic."

Named as defendants are Loveland Products, BASF Corp., American Cyanamid, Arysta LifeScience, Clarke Mosquito Control Products, Bayer Environmental Science, Fairfield American Corp., AOSI Co., Rigo Co., Velsicol Chemical Corp., Drexel Chemical Co. and Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals.

Representatives of the companies -- which have not yet been served with legal papers -- either declined to comment or did not return phone calls.

Attorney Josh Kardisch, who represents Terrillion's wife, said Gregory Terrillion was exposed to five chemicals -- malathion, sumithrin, resmethrin, chlordane and lindane.

Chlordane has been banned in the United States since 1988. During his employment, Nassau used both malathion and resmethrin to fight the West Nile virus.

"All of these chemicals depress the immune system," Kardisch said, who contends the insecticides caused the cancer that spread to his brain.

County spokeswoman Katie Grilli-Robles confirmed that Terrillion worked for Nassau from 1971 until Aug. 8, 2008, when he retired. She said she could not comment further.

Anthony Falco, the current Nassau mosquito control supervisor, said that while spraying "We follow what the label instructs, the label is the law on pesticides. We have and use all the proper safety gear."

Kardisch, who filed the suit last month, said Gregory Terrillion, who at times applied insecticides himself, received protective gloves from the county and used masks similar to those sometimes used by painters. He said Gregory Terrillion had symptoms indicating inhalation of certain chemicals.

Terrillion said her husband's cancer was diagnosed in November 2008 and he died on Dec. 1, 2008. She said a former county employee who worked with her husband furnished the chemical names.

"I have asked the county for a list of the chemicals Greg was exposed to but they haven't given it to me," Terrillion said. 

Effects of insecticides
Below are some government findings on the effects of insecticides. Some researchers differ on these conclusions:

Cholodane. Citing cancer and environmental concerns, the EPA banned chlordane in 1988. Affects liver, nervous and digestive systems.

Malathion. Can affect nervous system and other organs. No conclusive proof it causes human cancers.

Resmethrin. Can affect nervous system. Data does not indicate it should be considered a cancer concern.

Lindane. Nervous system, liver and kidney toxicity. Use in mosquito control unlikely to cause cancer.

Sumithrin.  Adverse health effects unlikely for most people.

No studies on long-term health effects resulting from mosquito control use.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  NY State Health Department.

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