by Tracey Watson, Natural News:
Aluminum phosphide, commonly known as Fumitoxin, is a cheap, freely available pesticide used to control rodents in agricultural areas. It reacts to the addition of moisture to create phosphine gas when dropped into rodent burrows. The EPA has classified it as Toxicity Category 1, a “restricted use pesticide.” It can only be applied by applicators certified to do so, and may not be used within 100 feet of any residential structure. And these restrictions are vitally important since aluminum phosphide is one of the most common causes of poisoning among all agricultural pesticides.
The illegal use of this pesticide led to tragedy after it was applied under a mobile home in Amarillo, Texas, earlier this year. When some of the 10 inhabitants of the home started feeling sick, one of them tried washing the poison away with water, causing the toxic phosphine gas to be instantly released. Tragically, four children between the ages of 7 and 17 died. One was declared dead at the scene, and the other three succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Though five more of the inhabitants got sick, they all survived. This is likely because children are more susceptible to poisoning than adults, simply because their little organs are not yet fully developed and are not able to effectively detoxify such chemicals.
There is no known antidote to aluminum phosphide poisoning, and supportive care is the only possible treatment. Chances of survival increase with early medical intervention and diagnosis. Doctors will perform gastric lavage using a medication called KMnO4, or failing that, coconut oil. Intensive monitoring and supportive therapy are also required, according to an article in the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock. Since the heart is directly affected by the poison, cardiovascular support is also vital.
Identifying aluminum phosphide poisoning can be tricky, since the symptoms are both non-specific and instantaneous. Nonetheless, some of the common symptoms include nausea and stomach pain, restlessness and agitation, and chills. If the patient has suffered severe exposure he may experience trouble breathing, respiratory failure, a rapid pulse, plunging blood pressure, pulmonary edema (an accumulation of fluid in the tissue and air spaces of the lungs) and even death, as was the case for the kids in Amarillo.
Beyond Pesticides has long called for the banning of aluminum phosphide and other similarly toxic chemicals. They argue that there are other, less toxic ways to control rodents, including integrative pest management (IPM), which involves educating people about better sanitation, repairing structures so that they are rodent-proof, and limiting access to areas that are likely to attract rodents.