Newborn baby dies of suspected pesticide poisoning in Sharjah

The 21-day-old was admitted to hospital along with his three-year-old brother and his parents after the family fell ill. The child later died in hospital.

SHARJAH // A three-week-old boy has died after a banned pesticide was used in the flat next door to his family’s home in Sharjah.

The Syrian boy died in hospital after being admitted with his brother, 3, and their parents.

Their neighbour was charged over the baby’s death after police found cans of the illegal pesticide aluminium phosphide, or “bomb”, in the apartment building.

Traces of the deadly chemical were found in the flat next door and there were dead insects in the family’s apartment.

“Officers found cans of the pesticide at the front of the building,” said Col Abdul Qadir Al Amiri, head of Sharjah Police forensics. “It’s very dangerous and can harm children.”

Col Al Amiri said the cans could have exploded if left near an open flame.

Police said the neighbour sprayed his flat with the pesticide, which he was given by a friend, then left for a few hours.

He was charged with causing the wrongful death of a child and is being detained.

Police are still looking for the man who provided the chemical, which releases a poisonous gas that can cause suffocation.

The neighbour claimed he did not know phosphide aluminium was a banned substance.

Police spoke to the family after a complaint, then inspected their building with pest-control teams from the municipality.

A strong smell was coming from the apartment next door.

The youngster’s death is the latest caused by pesticides.

In July last year a Filipino died and five people were treated in Dubai’s Al Nahda area after a neighbour used the dangerous pesticide phosphine. They were treated after showing symptoms of what doctors initially thought was food poisoning.

In 2010, improper use of insecticide by a pest control company in Ajman killed two boys, aged 5 months, and left their triplet sister badly ill in hospital.

A year later, a 33-year-old man was killed in Dubai, and in May 2012, 10 people were treated in hospital after the chemical was used in a flat in Naif, Dubai.

Aluminium phosphide has been banned from public sale since 2009 and only licensed operators are permitted to use it. It is usually sold in grey tablets.

Lallan Yadav, agriculture engineer at Elite Xpress Cleaning, said that the chemical was banned from use in residential areas.

“This is not authorised to use in residences,” Mr Yadav said. “It should be used only in specific conditions.”

The chemical is used in fumigating warehouses and should be handled carefully by professionals who apply the right amount, he said.

Companies are required to pass municipality tests before being authorised to handle the fumigant, said Mr Yadav, who urged residents to always ask pest control companies what chemicals they used.

“Substances used in residences must be certified by the municipality and are always clearly labelled,” he said.

Health officials in Dubai have issued warnings about hiring illegal companies, with municipal regulations prohibiting importing, handling and trading of pesticides without permission.

Pesticides used in the emirate must comply with specifications approved by the municipality, health and environmental standards and technical requirements.

In Abu Dhabi, companies must be registered with the Centre for Waste Management and the Department of Economic Development.

They must also register with the municipality in Sharjah.

Published: March 4, 2015 04:00 AM


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