Insecticide poisoning caused Madinah tragedy, says probe

Yousuf Muhammad I Arab News
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2008-08-15 03:00

MADINAH: A third child of a Pakistani family died here yesterday in a suspected insecticide poisoning incident.

Sami, 3, had been in a coma since Sunday at Madinah’s Maternity and Children’s Hospital. The child’s pregnant mother and younger sister Wafa are still in the hospital.

Initially, the father suspected that fast food the family had brought home was the cause of the poisoning, but lab results from Riyadh suggest that the deaths were caused by a high concentration of insecticide in the family’s home.

Authorities say they are convinced this was the cause of death.

Reports of pesticide-related poisonings are periodically appearing in the Arabic media, suggesting that families use dangerous concentrations of unknown pesticide products to abate homes of pests.

In August 2007 two Egyptian girls, 4 and 6, died in Jeddah after their father fumigated their bedroom with an off-the-shelf insecticide. The family went out for dinner, but fell ill after returning home having not waited long enough for the chemicals to dissipate into safe levels of concentration.

In October 2007, a Filipino woman died and her sister-in-law hospitalized after fumigating their apartment with a commercial pesticide. The cause of death was a fatal inhalation of aluminum phosphate.

Following these pesticide deaths, authorities urged people to strictly abide by the instructions on pesticide products, which typically require them not only to stay away from the apartment for a certain period, but also to open windows and ventilate rooms after the prescribed use.

People are urged not to use more than recommended quantities of insecticides. In addition to the danger of poisoning, concentrations of fumigants in enclosed spaces can ignite and cause explosive fires.

Signs of poisoning include diarrhea and extreme abdominal pains. People exhibiting such symptoms after using pesticides in apartments should go immediately to the nearest emergency room with any others who might have been poisoned. Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of pesticide poisoning due to their young age.

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