One person died and four other people are in critical condition in a suspected case of pesticide poisoning through inhalation in the Al-Warood district of Jeddah, authorities said.
Health, Civil Defense and police authorities took immediate action warning residents against using any chemical without verification and also advised caution in pest control procedures. Civil Defense officials warned that pesticides kill insects swiftly but are equally dangerous for humans.
In a related development, Makkah Region Police spokesperson Lt. Col. Dr. Aati Al-Qurashi said that they have arrested an Arab national who is believed to be the salesman of a pesticide company from where pesticide came. A father and son had to be rushed to the King Fahad Medical City for emergency treatment following exposure to the dangerous chemical.
The fatality in the case is a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan who died in the Jamia district in Jeddah where she was admitted. She had fallen unconscious and had severe breathing difficulties with a sharp drop in blood pressure. She was declared dead by health authorities on Wednesday according to a statement issued by the Health Directorate.
Dr. Sami Badawood, director general of the Health Ministry in the Jeddah governorate, said, “A Saudi family of four inhaled a pesticide sprayed on the roof of their building and were rushed to hospital after they began experiencing severe breathing difficulties.”
The patients are a 24-year-old woman and a 2-year-old child. “Their condition is now stable,” confirmed Badawood. He added that there were two other Saudi nationals in their 30s who had inhaled the poison but were out of danger.
Badawood said that all these cases were suspected to be of poisoning caused by inhalation of fumes from the pesticides that were sprayed in their apartments.
He said that the chemical substance, aluminum phosphide is believed to be the cause of the problem and advised that residents should not return to their apartments for at least 72 hours following a pesticide spray.
Civil Defense spokesperson Col. Saeed Sarhan said that, “Civil Defense teams received a complaint from a 3-story building whose occupants were suffering from breathing problems. On reaching the spot, the Civil Defense teams found a high concentration of aluminum phosphide in the area.
“We moved to evacuate the building with immediate effect,” he said.
Col. Saeed Sarhan also said that, “The pesticide company has been ordered to provide a suitable temporary housing and conduct a medical examination of the building’s residents.”
Aluminum phosphide has been banned in the Kingdom for several years but there are still cases of exposure and fatalities related to its use as a pesticide in homes.
The gas, which is both colorless and odorless, can spread through the air vents of apartments to surrounding areas affecting all the residents of a particular building.
The symptoms of pesticide poisoning include breathing problems, low blood pressure and coldness in the limbs. Persons affected by pesticide poisoning due to inhalation should be taken to the hospital immediately.