Mom used pellets of phospine, an agricultural pesticide
A gas is produced on contact with the air which can be lethal even in small quantities in enclosed spaces
Despite the children vomiting they were not taken to hospital for several hours
Police say the death appears to be accidental
By AFP REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 21:51 EST, 23 February 2015 | UPDATED: 03:54 EST, 24 February 2015
A baby died and four young siblings were in critical condition after they were accidentally exposed to bedbug fumigation chemicals at their western Canada home, police said Monday.
Shazia Yarkhan’ sister was trying to kill bed bugs with a chemical brought from Pakistan, where the family had recently vacationed.
The substance used in the apartment was a pellet form of phosphine, an agricultural pesticide that is strictly controlled in Canada and requires special training to use.
When exposed to the air, the pellets react with moisture and release phosphine gas. The gas is both colorless and odorless but extremely toxic.
Within hours of the fumigation taking place, all five children that were present in the home became seriously ill, with the youngest losing its life.
Although the pellets were contained mainly within one of the bedrooms, fire crews detected the substance throughout the apartment.
Crews found readings of 4.0 parts per million in the bedroom. It’s immediately lethal at 5.0 parts per million, but can be harmful at 1.0 parts per million after just 15 minutes.
One emergency worker said: ‘There was significant exposure.
Wood Buffalo RCMP Cpl. George Cameron said the poisonings appear to be accidental.
The woman’s five children started showing signs of illness Saturday night. They all vomited and one of them had diarrhea but they weren’t taken to hospital until the following morning.
Corporal George Cameron of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told AFP the children were rushed to the hospital in Fort McMurray, about 250 miles north of Edmonton, Alberta.
An eight-month-old baby died in hospital. Two siblings, aged two and six, were rushed by air ambulance to Stollery Children’s hospital in Edmonton while another two, a four-year-old and a seven-year-old, were taken to Northern Lights Regional Health Centre hospital in Fort McMurray, police said.
All four children are in critical condition. Their mother is under observation in hospital in Fort McMurray, while their father is with the two children who were taken to Edmonton.
A family member told the daily Edmonton Journal the mother had been using a pesticide to kill bedbugs when she inadvertently poisoned her children.
The property manager also said that she spoke with the mother, who became alarmed when her children started vomiting.