x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ajman officials warn against illegal pesticides

Ajman Municipality has vowed to take a tough stance against unlicensed pest controllers, who pose serious danger to the health and environment of the emirate’s people.

ABU DHABI // Ajman Municipality has vowed to take a tough stance against unlicensed pest controllers, who pose serious danger to the health and environment of the emirate’s people.

Municipal chiefs warned on Wednesday that they will prosecute unlicensed companies and people after receiving complaints from residents.

Humaid Al Mualla, director of public health and the environment at the municipality, said the civic body had a list of registered pest controllers on its website that residents should check against before hiring.

The problem of unlicensed pest controllers gained a high profile in March 2010, when five-month-old brothers Suhail and Ali Bakari died from breathing in pesticide being used in the flat next to theirs.

Their triplet sister Hala spent two months in hospital recovering.

The municipality is also increasing its efforts to educate the public about dangerous chemicals.

Mr Al Mualla said pesticides should only be handled by professionals, and should be approved by the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Last month, more pesticides were added to the nation’s list of banned substances by Dr Rashid bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water.

Individuals and companies are banned from handling or using any of the listed pesticides, which must be disposed of in an ecologically safe manner.

Certain poisons have been restricted and handlers must obtain licences from the Ministry to handle them.

Since the deaths of the Bakari infants, several other deaths and poisonings across the country have been reported.

Farah Ebrahim, 11, died in a Sharjah hospital in July from heart failure brought on by exposure to aluminium phosphide, which is banned from public sale and may be used only by licensed pest controllers.

Ten people were treated in hospital in May last year after a chemical that was permitted only in industrial settings was used to kill insects in a flat next to the men’s residence in Dubai’s Al Naif area.

In September last year, exposure to aluminium phosphide in her family’s Sharjah apartment block was blamed for the death of Habiba Hisham, 2.

That same month, 12 labourers in Sharjah showed symptoms of poisoning, including severe vomiting and stomach pains after being exposed to aluminium phosphide.

The poisonings prompted Sharjah Municipality to put out its list of safe pest-control companies.

The Centre for Waste Management Abu Dhabi said there were 122 pest-control companies registered in the emirate.

The centre is working with the National Media Council to prevent non-authorised companies from advertising.

Dubai Municipality’s pest control section on Wednesday also warned the public against the use of pesticides without proper supervision.

“Consumers buy aluminium phosphide, which is usually in the form of tablets in gray colour from individuals who are not licensed to sell them,” said Hisham Al Yahya, head of the pest control section.

“It is packed in cheap plastic bags with no warning labels on them.”

Zuhoor Al Sabbagh, director of public health services, urged the public to report any offences through the municipality’s hotline at 800900.

Ajman Municipality’s list of registered pest controllers is available at www.am.gov.ae/ar/investors.

rruiz@thenational.ae