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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Indiana Pesticide Verdict Should Give Pause to Propoxur Advocates

The bed bug epidemic sweeping the country and being felt most acutely in Ohio, has some people proposing that the FDA re-approve a banned pesticide for temporary indoor use. While bed bugs have developed resistance to some pesticides, propoxur is still an effective treatment. However, since 2007, the pesticide has been banned from " use on residential use sites, including schools, day care facilities, motels, hotels, and other indoor locations where children may be present." This ban followed hundreds of reports of toxic exposure to children associated with propoxur, leading in the short-term to a loss of consciousness. In the long-term children may suffer nerve tissue damage from propoxur exposure, similar to that in the case decided on September 16 in Floyd County, Indiana.

The more than $23 million verdict comes after a 14-year fight by a family. The family, especially its two children, suffered serious health effects after toxic exposure caused by misapplication of Creal-O, a then-legal indoor pesticide. The family moved into an apartment complex in February 1994. Later that year, the complex fired its professional pest control service and began using its own personnel to apply pesticide. Not long after this change, first their son (aged 5 months) and then their daughter (aged 3 years) were hospitalized for seizures. The family moved out of the complex when their lease expired in January 1995, and in 1996 they filed a lawsuit naming the complex, its pest control service, and the pesticide manufacturer. The case against the pest control service and the pesticide manufacturer were dropped. After a four-week trial that included at least one jury controversy, a verdict was passed down in favor of the family. The jury awarded $500,000 each to the parents, $16 million to the daughter, and $6.5 million to the son. The mother says the two children "haven't been the same since the first seizure." The daughter, now 20, is severely developmentally disabled. Her mother describes the girl's condition: "she can't dress herself, undress herself, brush her teeth, brush her hair, shower herself--basically everything but feeding has to be done by somebody else." The 5-month old, now 17, is academically and socially delayed.

This lawsuit should give pause to people advocating the use of banned pesticides like propoxur against bed bugs. Bed bugs seem to be resistant to many pesticides, although the EPA is still testing the effectiveness of approved pesticides against the resistant bed begs, samples of which are hard to obtain. Propoxur, though, is very effective at killing them. Unfortunately, in these cases, pest control comes at a potentially high cost. According to EPA formulas, the levels of propoxur needed to control bed bugs would also pose serious risk to children. Furthermore, even if propoxur is effective in the short-term, it is unlikely to work for long. Bed bugs will likely develop a resistance within a short time, while the victims of toxic exposure to the chemicals would have to live with the consequences for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, the EPA ban is not stopping some desperate people from misusing pesticides. Some businesses, pest control services, and even individuals desperate to control bed bug infestations have been found using pesticides in unapproved applications, putting people at serious risk.

If you or your family has suffered toxic exposure due to an unapproved use of pesticides for bed bug control, the personal injury lawyers of The Cochran Firm may be able to help. Please call or email us today for a free case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 10:43 AM

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