State issues annual list of top pesticide blunders
May 31, 2012
• Follow the label’s instructions? You mean me?
• ‘I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following the label instructions’
There’s nothing on the label of pool chlorine tablets or on a bottle of vinegar or a box of baking soda that tells how to make a small bomb that will send YouTube’s audience into LOL paroxysms.
But apparently three San Diego County teens were reading between the lines when they mixed up the ingredients in plastic bottles.
One boy threw some of the bottles onto rocks and breathed the toxic gas formed by mixing the chemicals. After experiencing shortness of breath, the teen called his mother, who called 911. Fire department paramedics responded and treated the boy. The Sheriff’s Department’s bomb squad vented the remaining bottles and environmental health officials neutralized the chemicals.
They didn’t make YouTube fame, but they have topped the 2012 list from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for stupid people tricks that put themselves and other in danger.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following the label instructions of all pesticide products, including those consumers use to kill ants, spiders, weeds and other pests in and around their homes,” says DPR Director Brian Leahy.
Mr. Leahy also recommends that consumers consider an integrated pest management approach to reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides.
This strategy includes removing crumbs and other food sources, fixing leaky plumbing, and sealing cracks and crevices with caulk so pests can’t get into the home.
The San Diego County incident and blunders below in alphabetical order by county were drawn from 2011 illnesses and injuries reported to DPR by the California Poison Control System. State privacy law protects the identities of the individuals, who all sought medical treatment.
● In Contra Costa County, a woman hurried to address an infestation of fleas and lice while she had dogs and children out of the home. She was steam cleaning the carpet with dog flea shampoo while she had lice shampoo on her own head when something got in her eye. She didn’t know whether the eye irritant was the dog shampoo (a registered pesticide) or the lice shampoo (a pharmaceutical, outside DPR jurisdiction).
● In Kern County, a man saturated soil with insecticide before planting marijuana in his yard. He sprayed the soil around the plants as they grew. The man became nauseated after smoking his homegrown marijuana.
No pesticides are registered for use on marijuana by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because marijuana is considered an illegal crop by the federal government. In California, a pesticide cannot be registered unless it is registered by U.S. EPA. As a result, no analysis has been done by the state or federal governments to determine potential health and environmental risks posed by pesticide applications on marijuana.
● In Los Angeles County, a 4-year-old boy ate an unknown amount of roach gel mixed with peanut butter. That afternoon, he began vomiting and was found to have a low-grade fever.
● In Yolo County, a woman set off a fogger and left her apartment, but immediately re-entered to turn off the smoke alarm. The fogger sprayed her in the face, and she developed burning and watery eyes,
runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath and sensation of throat swelling. She re-entered again to get her car keys, which exacerbated the symptoms.