Of the more than eight million species that inhabit the planet with humans,
we seem to have the hardest time coexisting with insects. While many insects
are beneficial, others destroy crops, damage property, spread disease,
bite, or sting. When they infest households, many people turn to professional
pest control services that use chemical pesticides to manage the problem.
Pesticides are designed to be toxic to living things and include insecticides,
herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides. Unintended exposures to other
organisms can occur because pesticide application is not always precise.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides,
even in very low levels. Pesticide exposure can cause a range of neurological
health effects, asthma, allergies, cancer, hormone problems, and issues
with reproduction and fetal development. In the United States, all pesticides
must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which
requires a battery of scientific tests not only for every pesticide, but
for every use of every pesticide. The
EPA also keeps a list of pesticides that have been severely restricted or banned outright, such as DDT, ethylene
oxide, mercury, and vinyl chloride.
Depending on the type of pest you are dealing with, there may be some effective
natural home remedies that will alleviate the problem. If you find you
need a professional, ask:
- How are your technicians trained?
- Is your company bonded and insured?
- What is your policy on damage?
- What is your guarantee?
- What do your technicians do to ensure safety around children and pets?
- What do I need to do to prepare for service?
So, you can imagine the recent shock when
a family on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands became critically ill after exposure to a severely restricted gas that was used in fumigating the villa below
theirs. That’s right. Terminix, one of the largest pest control
companies in the world (operating in 47 states and 11 countries) allegedly
used methyl bromide, which has been banned in the U.S. for most indoor
applications since 1984. Even short-term inhalation of methyl bromide
can cause severe lung damage, while long-term inhalation can lead to serious
Terminix agreed to a plea deal of $10 million following an investigation that revealed that six weeks after the family
fell ill, dangerous amounts of methyl bromide were still being detected
inside the villa. Moreover, Terminix used the restricted-use pesticide
across the islands on different occasions and it was found in the possession
of other pest control companies. Workers who fumigate with methyl bromide
are supposed to have special training, and they're supposed to file
paperwork with the EPA detailing when they buy it and how they plan to
apply it – all of which was allegedly lacking in this case. The
concern now is that other vacationers may have been exposed to this deadly
Closer to home, a Palm City, Florida family had trouble after calling Terminix
to deal with a drywood termite problem. Terminix sent a subcontractor
to fumigate who posted the re-occupancy notice without properly checking
to see if the air was safe. Although the whole family became ill, everyone
recovered except for a nine-year old boy. He suffered
severe brain damage caused by exposure to sulfuryl fluoride, the pesticide
used in the fumigation. The subcontractor was subsequently shut down by the Florida Department
of Agriculture. Whether the equipment was faulty, the subcontractor was
not properly trained, or the subcontractor was not properly supervised
is a matter currently being decided in the courts. But the lesson remains
the same – pesticides are invisible poisons that can cause permanent
damage if not properly selected or applied.
If you have any questions about this topic, or if you believe that an improperly
used or applied pesticide may be responsible for your injury or that of
a loved one, talk to the personal injury attorneys at
Stabinski & Funt, P.A. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, we
have helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities,
and remedies for over 45 years. If you wish to learn more about how our
firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us today
by calling 305-643-3100 or
filling out a free case evaluation form.