BOSTON — Summertime mosquitoes will be buzzing soon enough and state officials have laid out the process cities and towns must follow if they want to opt out of spraying meant to control mosquito-borne illnesses.

Municipalities have until May 15 to file an opt-out application with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, but they must first develop a local alternative management plan that wins local support and state approval.

"A municipality may only opt out of spraying activities conducted by the (State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board), whether done aerially or by other means, provided it has a plan approved by EEA," the state wrote in guidance it shared with cities and towns. "The approval of a plan means that the SRMCB will not perform any spray activities in that municipality. It does not extend to activities conducted by mosquito control districts (MCD) or any spray activities the MCD may perform within a municipality that is a member."

Before the opt-out application can go to EEA for review and approval, the city council or select board must hold a public meeting to vote on the intention to opt out, and accept input on an alternative plan from local health authorities and the public.

A law that Gov. Charlie Baker signed last summer gave the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board new powers to fight mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus when public health officials determine there is an elevated risk. It also required EEA to develop a process for municipalities to opt-out of SRMCB spraying, aerial or otherwise.

The state said aerial spraying, which uses the pesticide Anvil 10+10, "generally results in negligible exposure to humans. As a result, the potential for adverse health effects to the general public is likely to be very low. ... Responsiveness in some sensitive individuals is hard to predict." 

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