Wednesday, January 4, 2017


A very small article in yesterday's Waterloo Region Record mentioned that four children died in Amarillo, Texas from a pesticide sprayed underneath their home. Further on-line checking found that the pesticide is probably aluminum phosphide. The brand name is Weevil-cide and it is used to get rid of moths, insects, mice and other small rodents. Apparently the home owner crawled under his home and applied it on his own and then when he received odour complaints from the residents he went back under with a garden hose to either wash it off the underside of the house or to otherwise dilute it.

This resulted in a chemical reaction causing phosphine gas which I believe was also used intentionally during World War One. Phosphine gas is highly toxic and killed four children in the home overnight as the fumes entered the house and six to ten other residents are in hospital, some in critical condition.

While the obvious moral of the story is to let trained individuals do spraying either in or around your home, that perhaps isn't an option in low income homes. The second moral is the more general one that all pesticides need to be handled with extreme care as they are all intended to be poisons. Apparently pesticides that can kill moths and mice can also kill human beings in some circumstances.

Finally even the suggestion to have either trained individuals or experts be in charge of pesticide applications isn't always good enough. Just ask the forestry and hydro workers dosed with Agent Orange in Ontario in the 70s and 80s. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Hydro and even the Ontario Ministry of Transportation all caused havoc and mayhem, death and disease with their indiscriminate, amateurish protocols for spraying trees and underbrush along hydro corridors and highways. The human cost was enormous and continues to this day.

Pesticides/herbicides are poisons for humans as well as wildlife and weeds/underbrush!

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