Dangers of Fumigation

by Cindy Gray

A recent news article shared the sad story of a 10-year-old boy who lost most of his motor skills due to the family having their home fumigated for termites.  The family thought they were doing a correct and safe thing by hiring a fumigator to help them deal with an infestation of termites. Unfortunately the company failed to make sure the home was safe for re-habitation.  

This unfortunate situation resulted in the entire family becoming ill; with their young son suffering catastrophic brain damage from inhaling the toxic chemicals. This is a timely warning that this could happen to anyone who may unwittingly be exposed to the highly toxic chemicals used in fumigation.  This story emphasizes the potential dangers of fumigation.

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Inhaling the fumes from fumigation chemicals may result in immediate negative health effects in some cases. In others, the results of contact with these insidious poisons may emerge later.

Symptoms and Treatment for the Dangers of Fumigation

Anyone entering a home that has been fumigated should immediately take heed if symptoms such as coughing, sweating, itchy skin, red eyes, nausea, vomiting or breathing problems appear. It could be the first indicator of the dangers of fumigation as the chemicals are still lingering in the house.

Dr. Henry Bukenya, a physician at Mulago Hospital in Uganda has first-hand experience in dealing with the dangers of fumigation when sufferers are admitted. He recommends immediately drinking milk as an antidote to the poisons to reduce the toxicity of the inhaled poisons. Next, take the sufferer immediately to the nearest emergency hospital.

The unpleasant treatment includes emptying the stomach and administering a corticosteroid to reduce the damage of the chemicals on vital organs including the liver and kidneys. Symptoms left untreated can result in brain damage, as in the sad case referenced above—or even death in many cases.

Guidelines for Safe Fumigation Practices

In a perfect world, such toxic substances would never be used, but persistent pest problems such as termites, plant pathogens and insect pests in grain storage bins call for extreme measures at times.

Fumigations should only be done by trained, licensed and certified personnel. In the case of fumigation of the home or business premises, everything should first be removed. The dangers of fumigation and toxicity of the products used mean that even houseplants and pets will be killed by the poison. Foods should be removed or sealed securely in glass jars or cans to prevent contamination. Plants should be trimmed away from the building to allow the tent to fit properly and avoid any gas leakage.

Above all, think twice about the dangers of fumigation and take every precaution to avoid any contact with these toxic poisonous chemicals. 

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