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Pest control firms in UAE still using banned chemicals

7 Days logo 7 Days 01/12/2016

Pest control firms are still spraying UAE homes with banned chemicals that have been responsible for a number of deaths in recent years.

This week, authorities in Sharjah issued a warning to the people against using unlicensed pest control firms after dozens were caught, and fined, for using prohibited pesticides in homes.

Sharjah Municipality said it has fined 45 pest control firms in 2016 during inspections.

7DAYS has subsequently discovered that aluminium phosphide, a highly toxic substance, which is banned for domestic use, is still being widely used for pest control in apartments and villas.

Jaffar Ali Jaffar, Head of Environment Services at Sharjah Municipality, said: “Strict measures have been initiated over the recent years after several residents expressed concern over the safety of chemicals used by firms that offer pest control services.

“Many people have died in the past number of years and others were hospitalised after inhaling these poisonous chemicals.”

Last year, a three-week-old boy died after inhaling aluminium phosphide that had seeped into the family apartment through the air vents from a neighbouring apartment.

In August 2014, a three-year-old Filipino girl died in a Dubai hospital where she was being treated for pesticide poisoning.

In another incident in the same month, a Filipino died and five others were hospitalised after inhaling the highly toxic substance, which leaked into their apartment in Dubai from a neighbouring flat whose tenant used the powder as a “rodent-icide”.

After spraying aluminium phosphide in his apartment, the tenant locked the property and headed for his summer vacation abroad, according to police.

Aluminium phosphide is widely available on the black market.

“The best and safest pesticides to be used against various pests are those registered in Ministry of Water and Environment and applied by companies licensed by authorities,” said Jaffar.

“Improper use of pesticides may adversely affect children, adults, animals and the environment.”

Duncan Pearce, Director of HPL, a firm promoting eco-friendly non-toxic pest control services and solutions in the UAE, says it is time for firms to stop using pesticides and go green.

“Not only do chemicals affect people and animals directly but the bigger problem in the long term is the damaging effect on the greater environment,” said Pearce.

Pearce said that during the HCL research they found there was an alarming rate of incidents not only in the UAE but worldwide.

“Fatalities have happened from chemical misusage but serious side effects are increasing at a rate of 10-15 per annum,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment and Water last year issued a new resolution that prohibits the distribution of any pesticide without proper registration from the ministry.

According to the new resolution, banned pesticides cannot be registered or imported into the state, while companies are barred from using pesticides without the ministry’s approval.

ismail@7days.ae

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