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Tighter control of lethal toxins needed, say experts

Take necessary precautions in case of pesticide poisoning

Gulf News

Dubai, Sharjah: In the wake of the pesticide poisoning case, which led to the death of 11-year-old female Iraqi UAE resident, experts in safety have called for tighter control in the use of illegal, lethal toxins which can lead to death, especially among children.

They advise residents faced with a similar incident to take necessary precautions like increasing ventilation and notifying emergency services.

Further an awareness campaign in collaboration with Sharjah Media Centre is underway to identify the root of the syndicate selling illegal toxins.

The Iraqi girl and her family were brought to Al Qasimi Hospital with acute symptoms of poisoning. The 11-year-old Farah Ebrahim died due to heart failure. Her mother is in coma. The remaining family members are well but under continuous observation.

The Sharjah Police have arrested four residents and the watchman from the building of the deceased resident — all of whom are allegedly involved in selling a suspected a chemical used illegally as a pesticide to one of the building tenants. The suspects had full knowledge about the extent of the pesticides’ toxicity.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Wasif Mohammad Alam, Director of Public Health and Safety at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said, “Such toxic materials should be tightly regulated. These industrial grade toxins should never be used in households. The toxins can be odourless or have very little odour making it difficult for a person to identify. So when used in homes, people inhale the fumes and by the time help comes, it could be too late.”

He explained that toxic materials could lead to damage to the vital organs and the nervous system, and could lead to death.

Dubai-based Dr Aksha Memon, assistant professor of pharmacology, which includes toxicology, told Gulf News that depending upon the type of pesticide and the exposure, the symptoms may vary.

“Common symptoms of toxic poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, visual disturbances, dizziness, muscle weakness, difficulty in breathing, fall in blood pressure and collapse. Some victims may have a characteristic kerosene like or garlic-like breath depending on the type of poison,” she said.

Of vulnerable sections of society, Dr Memon said accidental poisoning with pesticides is common especially in children.

In case there is a hint of exposure to toxic chemicals, she said residents should discontinue further exposure by vacating the premises and/or removing the contaminated clothing.

“When symptoms occur, emergency help should be called immediately. While awaiting help, some measures can reduce damage like removing soiled clothes, washing the affected area with plain water.

“If the source of poisoning is known and inducing vomiting allowed, administer common salt in warm water to a conscious victim,” she said.