A three-year-old girl has succumbed in the Dubai hospital where she was being treated for pesticide poisoning, doubling the death toll in the case to two.
A Filipino had died earlier and five others were hurt after sniffing a highly toxic substance which leaked into their apartment in Dubai from a neighbouring flat whose tenant used the powder as a 'rodent-icide', according to police.
Read: Filipino killed after toxic poison leaks through AC
The incident took place in Dubai’s Qusais area on the second day of Eid Al Fitr when the tenant of an apartment sprayed the banned pesticide (Aluminium Phosphide) before proceeding on vacation to his home country.
Khalid Sharif Al Awadhi, Executive Director of Food Control Department at Dubai Municipality, told this website that their team were quick to link the death with the banned substance and not food poisoning.
“Dubai Police and a team from the food control and pest control department of public health reached the spot to conduct a thorough investigation of the case,” he said.
“After extensive work, we can inform that the man died from exposure to the highly toxic fumes emanated from the banned Aluminium Phosphide,” he added, concluding, “The fumes travelled from one apartment to another through the A/C ducts.”
The hospital report established the “presence of phosphine gas in the victim’s body”, he added.
Often pesticide poisoning is confused for food poisoning, an issue that Bobby Krishna T M, Principal Food Studies Officer at Dubai Municipality, highlights.
“Even this case came to us as a suspected food poisoning case, but upon investigation we found the culprit to be the use of the banned Aluminium Phosphide.”
Nicknamed ‘rodent-cide’, these are used only in factories and warehouses. Phosphine cannot be used without the approval and authorisation of the Ministry of Environment and Water and only in specific proportions.
The fact that the banned pesticide is odourless significantly compounds the problem as neighbours cannot detect it and remain exposed to it.
“Often, residents don’t suspect that their neighbour has carried out pest control because there is no smell. Hence, the risk is significantly higher.”
“This just has to stop,” asserted Bobby. “Incidents like these continue to happen because these banned substances are still available in the market. Steps must be taken to ensure it never gets here.
“The problem is not the licensed companies. It’s the guys on the streets who often pass on these banned substances.
“It’s tough to trace these guys. And, they go on spreading the message using their mobile phones.” He urged residents to inform Dubai Municipality on 800900 about agents selling illegal fumigants.
“I think we need to have a formal strategy (documented) with the police and other stakeholders about the management of such cases in the future,” he added.
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