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Niagara Health Dept. urges public caution on Erie Canal spraying

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Health Department today urged people who live or recreate near the Erie Canal between North Tonawanda and Pendleton to exercise caution to avoid exposure to a herbicide being used to kill an invasive plant in the waterway.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in applying the underwater herbicide Endothall to kill hydrilla, a plant that can clog waterways if left unchecked. The application is to begin Tuesday near the Delaware Avenue Bridge in North Tonawanda and head 5.5 miles east over the next 48 hours, ending Thursday near West Canal Park in Pendleton.

Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said Endothall can cause minor skin and eye irritation in humans and pets, although it’s not easily absorbed through the skin and has not been shown to have long-term negative health impacts. Nevertheless, swimming is banned in the application area up until 24 hours after the final spraying. Stapleton said there are no restrictions on catching and eating fish, however.