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Aluminum phosphide, or “bomb”, is a pesticide banned from public sale and is only legal for professionals fumigating nonresidential areas. Lethal pesticides have killed three people in the past month. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Aluminum phosphide, or “bomb”, is a pesticide banned from public sale and is only legal for professionals fumigating nonresidential areas. Lethal pesticides have killed three people in the past month. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Warning over use of lethal 'bomb' pesticides in UAE

UAE authorities urge the public to avoid using unlicensed pest control companies after lethal pesticides claimed the lives of three people, including two toddlers in June.

ABU DHABI // Householders have been warned about unlicensed pest-control companies using a pesticide called “bomb” that is potentially fatal.

“Bomb”, or aluminium phosphide, has been banned from public sale since 2009 and only licensed operators are permitted to use it.

“In the right environment it is a highly effective product but it should never be used in residential properties,” James Nicholson, general manager of the licensed pest control company Rentokil, said yesterday.

“You have to look at the training of an individual and the management structure of a company as to how these products are used in such environments – there is clearly gross negligence when people are dying from pesticide application.”

Lethal pesticides have killed three people, including two toddlers, in the past month. A Bangladeshi girl, 3, and her eight-month-old sister died in Ajman on June 1 after a neighbouring apartment was treated with chemicals.

A 35-year-old Filipina beauty salon worker died in Fujairah on June 12, and two of her flatmates became seriously ill.

Mr Nicholson of Rentokil also advised against using unauthorised companies because they were cheaper.

“There are a number of companies out there who offer cheap rates,” he said. “You might find these in classifieds or the occasional business card pushed under your door. Our advice is ask questions – if they can’t answer them, then be wary.

“The reality is most of the good companies are all within about 15 to 20 per cent of one another price-wise; there is only so low a price can go before people start cutting corners, and that’s when tragedies happen.”

Mohammed Hanif, of Ibdaa Pest Control and Cleaning in Abu Dhabi, said: “We are a licensed company and spray authorised chemicals which are not harmful for residents and neighbours. It’s completely safe and you don’t need to inform people living next door.

“Unlicensed people use ‘bomb’, which is banned and dangerous to use. It can kill people if used without proper precaution.”

After Ibdaa treats an apartment or villa, the residents are asked to shut doors and leave the property for more than three hours if the treatment is for bed bugs, or one or two hours if dealing with cockroaches.

Salem Ahmed Reda, a resident on Hamdan Street in Abu Dhabi, said: “Cheaper chemicals and services are generally sought by apartments shared by bachelors.

“These bachelors use it and close doors and they don’t inform neighbours, who can become the victim.”

The Centre of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi says using services from unlicensed companies is not only a health risk but is also a criminal offence.

The centre said there had been no deaths from pesticides in Abu Dhabi this year but it continues to warn residents against cheaper spraying services from unlicensed companies.

“Proper and regular inspections are carried out and, if an unlicensed pest control company is found operating, legal enforcement actions are taken against the company,” the centre said.

A YouGov survey last year also highlighted the issue of the public using pesticides themselves, with 52 per cent of 753 respondents saying they had done so, while only 22 per cent said they had used professionals.

The Centre of Waste Management regularly carries out drives to encourage the public to use only licensed pest-control companies and to report any company operating without a permit.

A list of licensed companies can be obtained by calling 800 555 or visiting www.nadafa.ae

anwar@thenational.ae

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