Four children have died in Amarillo, TX after the aluminum phosphide was sprayed under their house. The other inhabitants of the home are still in treatment, and whether they make it or not, the effects of the gas will cause long-term health problems.
Aluminum phosphide is a restricted-use pesticide due to its volatile nature. It turns into phosphine gas when mixed with water. According to the Amarillo Fire Department, a license is required to purchase the pesticide. In this case, it was bought on the black market. It was applied during the day and the toxic fumes leeched into the house during the night.
How Aluminum Phosphide Works
Aluminum phosphide turns into toxic phosphine gas when it comes into contact with water, either deliberately or in the atmosphere. Once toxic phosphine gas has been ingested, it causes the circulatory system to shut down. There is no antidote for the gas, and close to 60% of people who develop aluminum phosphide poisoning die from multiple organ failure, myocarditis, and profound shock.
Aluminum Phosphide Use in the United States
Aluminum phosphide is used to kill rodents, bedbugs, and other pests. It is also used to fumigate cereal grains, usually in tablet form and mixed with other chemicals that help keep the aluminum phosphide from exploding. The use of aluminum phosphide without a professional is not recommended. Yet similar pesticides like zinc phosphide in the form of rodent pellets are available to purchase at Wal-mart.
The people who sell pesticides cannot keep you safe because let’s face it -pesticides aren’t safe. While the pesticide used here is without question more dangerous than the average pesticide, this doesn’t change the fact that pesticides used to kill rodents and other pests are meant to kill living things, and children are especially vulnerable.
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- Managing Aluminum Phosphide Poisonings – National Center for Biotechnology Information
- Zinc Phosphide/Phosphine – National Pesticide Information Center
- 4 children dead in Texas in pesticide spraying incident – CBS News
- Toxic gas that killed 4 children derived from ‘restricted-use’ pesticide – News Channel 10