This is the second pesticide-related tragedy we are covering this week. A few days ago, no fewer than 15 top racing camels in Qatar died after their breeder administered a toxic chemical to their skin, which the owner blames on the poor quality of the product he received. Potentially more serious, though we value all living creatures, several people throughout the United Arab Emirates have died this year as a result of the wrongful application of a pesticide that is typically used to kill moles, rabbits, and rats. The most recent man, Raghavendra Shivaji, died last week Friday after inhaling toxic gases from a neighboring apartment.
Two roommates also fell ill when they breathed fumes released through the bathroom vents of the neighbor’s unit in Bur Dubai, but did not have the asthmatic history that ultimately made it impossible for Shivaji, a 33 year old IT sales manager, to recover. The man who placed the pellets in his home was arrested.
Called “bombs,” Phostoxin is made up of lethal pellets that release phosphine gas. Although it is a controlled pesticide that should only be handed by professional pest control administers (for PCOs) or people who hold a DEFRA Agricultural Holding (CPH) Number, public health officials told Gulf News that corrupt industry insiders are making this dangerous product available to the public.
Bur Dubai building managers Capitol Real Estate have posted signs in the lobby urging residents against using any illegal chemicals or pesticides without consulting government authorities.
In the last two months, an additional two men have died after exposure to illegally-sourced Phostoxin, which is not designed to be used in homes. (We kind of think chemicals like this should be banned altogether.)
Dinesh Ramachandran, Technical Director at National Pest Control, told Gulf News that only certified people should handle this product, which is supposed to be kept in air-tight containers.
It was recently discovered that Egyptian authorities allowed carcinogenic pesticides to enter the country, even after the Agriculture Minister made a big splash about their risks. We need to start taking the environmental and public health dangers of these destructive chemicals more seriously, starting with public awareness campaigns and better government regulation.
:: Gulf News
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