Pest control companies in Abu Dhabi have been told that when using chemicals in seeking to eradicate rodents, these must be marked clearly as being harmful to humans.
Abu Dhabi environment and waste authority said contractors were expected to adhere to the highest local and international standards when operating in the city.
An animal welfare group run by a local vet recently discovered clear packets of bromadiolone in and around community play areas.
The potent chemical is used to kill rodents and can be lethal if ingested by dogs and cats.
Although not deadly in humans, the chemical can induce nosebleeds, bruising, headaches and soreness to muscles.
“Pest controllers are using unlabelled, home-made devices using poison for rats and mice near residential areas,” said Dr Susan Aylott, an animal welfare volunteer.
“We have seen around 30 of these open canisters placed close to homes and near children’s playgrounds.
“They are open to the elements and only some were labelled as toxic poison.
“It needs to be taken seriously, as people do not seem to understand the strength of these chemicals.
“They can easily drop out of the traps and look like small bags of red candy, which children could pick up.”
Dr Aylott runs programmes with volunteer vets in the city to trap, neuter and release stray cats in an attempt to reduce the numbers on the street.
Pest controllers are not allowed in these controlled areas because of the risk of poisoning stray cats and dogs, she said.
Tadweer’s guidelines aim to provide a unified technical framework for controlling public health through defining quality standards and procedures for pest control services.
Emma Button, who rescues hundreds of cats a year in Abu Dhabi to relocate to the UK, said poisoning by unlicensed pet controllers was a persistent issue.
“Tadweer has a set of guidelines that state a pest controller must put down marked traps saying who they belong to, but many traps we see do not have that labelling,” she said.
“Some companies we know do not have licensing for animals, just general pest control so should not be trapping at all.
“The traps need to be monitored, so as soon as they have captured an animal they can be collected. Often the traps are just left unattended.”
Stray animals have been considered by the Tadweer guidance as urban pests that may cause nuisance and discomfort to residents, or spread zoonotic disease.
The guidance also covers activities related to 'stray animals impounding service' for all companies working in Abu Dhabi.
It controls services by which stray animals are captured, impounded, transported, treated and rehomed, and is used for dogs, cats, foxes and rabbits.
To perform Public Health Pest Control Services in the emirate, staff must be certified by the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council and have proper experience in the field of public health pest control.
The use of pesticides and poisons by unqualified pest controllers can have devastating consequences.
Substances containing aluminium phosphide, known as 'bomb', are banned for public sale in the UAE but have been used in pellets to kill rodents.
The industrial pesticide was blamed on the death of 10-year-old schoolboy Khuzaimah Khan in 2019, whose family home in Al Nahda, Sharjah was fumigated.
In Abu Dhabi, development of pest control service guidelines released in October involved a working group of 11 other entities including UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and municipalities.
“At Tadweer, we ensure that our services do not cause any threat to public health and the environment,” said Dr Salem Al Kaabi, director general of Tadweer.
“We aim to provide the best quality of life and keep our communities clean and disease-free.
“Accordingly, we have set guidelines for pest control providers that adhere to the highest local and international standards, which comes in line with our vision to build a sustainable waste management system in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
“Throughout our work, we are putting more emphasis on sustainability and innovation to ensure providing the best services to our customers and the community.
“In doing so, we ensure moving in the right direction towards building integrated waste management and pest control systems.”