1 dead, 3 youths hospitalized after Jefferson County insecticide exposure

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:49 AM
Last updated Friday, June 13, 2014 1:33 AM
  • Follow Latest News

LOUISVILLE, Ga. — A Wadley woman was killed and three children sent to a hospital late Wednesday after being exposed to an agricultural insecticide that a relative said had been used in the woman’s house to exterminate pests, according to Jefferson County authorities.

Back | Next
A can of the agriculture insecticide Fumitoxin was outside the Jefferson County Hospital.   CAROL McLEOD/JEFFERSON NEWS AND FARMER
CAROL McLEOD/JEFFERSON NEWS AND FARMER
A can of the agriculture insecticide Fumitoxin was outside the Jefferson County Hospital.

Map View

Javascript is required to view this map.

The insecticide, Fumitoxin, is believed to have released a gas that was inhaled by Rosa Gilmore Green, 58, and her 12-year-old grandson at the home in the 600 block of North Martin Luther King Boulevard, according to a statement from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The problem was discovered by Green’s son, who noticed a heavy chemical odor at the home during a visit, said Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Chalker. The son took Green and the child to his home on Farm Street, where his mother’s condition worsened. About 7:50 p.m., Jefferson County 911 received a call for assistance for a woman who was weak and unable to move, according to a statement from Jefferson County Emergency Services.

Green, the boy and two granddaughters who were at the Farm Street residence were taken to the emergency room at Jefferson County Hospital, which was later closed because of concerns of chemical exposure.

Green was declared dead by the hospital’s attending physician. The three youths were transferred to Georgia Regents Medical Center.

The girls, 11 and 14, were taken to the hospital as a precaution and have been released. The boy remains in critical but stable condition, according to Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis.

An investigation by authorities showed that a family member used the insecticide in Green’s home Wednesday.

Gold Cross EMS responded to the 911 call and took Green to Jefferson County Hospital. Later, in response to a possible hazardous materials exposure situation, the county’s EMS and Swainsboro Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team went to the hospital to assist in the emergency room’s evacuation and identification of the chemical.

First responders and emergency room staffers were decontaminated. Monitoring equipment designed to detect airborne contaminants showed an unknown contaminant was present in the room with the patient and not in any other area of the emergency room or hospital, according to an EMS statement.

The Fumitoxin comes in tablet form and when exposed to moisture in the atmosphere, activates and emits phosphine gas, according to Chalker. The insecticide is commonly used by farmers to kill weevils, mice and other insects in stored crops, such as small grain and corn. The tablets are placed in grain storage bins and sealed to allow the phosphine gas to penetrate and kill any mammal inside the storage bin. According to the applicator’s manual, it should never be used in a home or building occupied by humans.

Jefferson County Hospital’s emergency room was reopened early Thursday after the decontamination and consultation with the chemical’s manufacturer and other hazardous-materials entities, the statement said.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Faye McGahee said Thursday afternoon that Green’s body was going to be released to a funeral home.

“I’ve got to take a blood sample and take it to Atlanta for analysis,” McGahee said.

Staff writer Doug Stutsman and Morris News Service reporter Carol McLeod contributed to this story.

Comments (40) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Casting_Fool
1175
Points
Casting_Fool 06/12/14 - 08:32 am
3
1
Um... "Hsoptial"?

Um... "Hsoptial"?

Sean Moores
762
Points
Sean Moores 06/12/14 - 08:39 am
2
0
@ Casting_Fool

Thanks. It's fixed.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 08:59 am
8
0
Breaking

I realize this is breaking news, but I hope it does not take a week for the reporters to publish the name of the chemical and the mechanism of the exposure.

internationallyunknown
4499
Points
internationallyunknown 06/12/14 - 10:23 am
3
0
Prayers for all involved.

Prayers for all involved.

saywhatagain
413
Points
saywhatagain 06/12/14 - 10:27 am
2
2
Good questions Little Lamb

You ask raise some good questions. Unfortunately, editors and reporters are terrible when it come to math and science and they often sacrifice precision in order to get the story out. Then we the public read the story, accept what they report as accurate, go out and organize public protests, politicians respond with legislation which births more EPA regulations. We end up with less freedom, manufacturers either go out of business or raise the price of the products we buy to compensate for the new requirements and the cost of living goes up goes up....and all because of a news story with information which may not even be accurate. I was in the environmental business for over 20 years and I saw it happen all the time. You would not believe the fears that have been foisted upon the American public that were based on junk science...even by the EPA.

Sean Moores
762
Points
Sean Moores 06/12/14 - 11:29 am
6
0
Follow up

We will be updating this story as the day goes on. The update should say how they were exposed. We already have the information, but we have to verify before posting. I don't know if we have the name of the agricultural pesticide. I also don't know that that is essential for the story. Agricultural pesticide is probably enough for the average reader. We'll see what the reporter comes up with.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 11:33 am
1
1
Junk Science

Whoooo, you got that right, saywhatagain! One of the recent ones that got my gizzard was the removal of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from PowerAde and GatorAde.

The whole thing was started by a petition drive orchestrated by a Mississippi teenager. BVO is approved as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration, but that wasn't good enough for the teenager. He got all whipped up because it is not approved in Japan or the European Union.

Well, just because someone in some government agency somewhere doesn't approve it does not mean the material is harmful. The FDA must have some data showing it is more beneficial than harmful or they would not have approved it.

Also, the fear-mongering technique the teenager used to scare people into signing his petition was that BVO can also be used as a flame retardant! (emphasis mine).

Well, just because it may be a flame retardant does not necessarily mean that the chemical is unhealthy to drink. I think that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are wimps for allowing unjustified scare tactics to make them re-formulate their drinks (which will make the flavors less satisfactory than they are today).

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 11:35 am
1
1
Pesticide

Well, if you can't get the exact chemical name of the "pesticide," you could at least inform your readers whether it is an insecticide or a herbicide.

triscuit
3173
Points
triscuit 06/12/14 - 11:44 am
1
0
was this something they

was this something they treated the home with themselves, or was it done by a (soon to be sued, probably) pest control company? And yes, what type of chemical. Very sad...is a farm pesticide usually used for roaches?

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 12:07 pm
1
0
Contaminant

I also do not like the last sentence of the story:

A haz-mat team arrived about 1 a.m. today and several who might have come into contact with any possible contaminants were quarantined as a precaution.

One of the fundamental questions to answer in a news story is "Where?" I presume that the reporter is talking about the Jefferson Hospital Emergency Room. But the phrase "who might have come into contact with any possible contaminants were quarantined" is confusing. Is he talking about emergency room staff? Emergency room patients?

It is possible that the haz-mat team showed up at the location of the initial exposure. Was it the woman's home? Was it at the barn where pesticides are normally stored? Were neighbors quarantined in their homes? Was anybody evacuated to a remote quarantine area?

I hope they expand on this.

- - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - -- - --- ----

And the use of the word "contaminant" is a bit off the mark. The pesticide is not necessarily a contaminant. Just because someone was improperly exposed to it does not make it a contaminant.

Sweet son
10786
Points
Sweet son 06/12/14 - 12:50 pm
2
0
Speculation only! Jefferson County is mostly rural farm land

so the pesticide was probably taken from a farm and introduced into these people's environment. It probably contains higher concentrations of a chemical that is used for row crop insects. Malathion and other pyrethrin pesticides come to mind.

Both are labeled for consumer use but at weak doses in numerous products.

nocnoc
45433
Points
nocnoc 06/12/14 - 02:48 pm
3
0
LL

What are your thoughts

I am wondering if it was misuse of an agricultural based 500/1 type concentrate that wasn't diluted properly.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 03:23 pm
1
0
Dilution

I was thinking that is probably what happened. In general, insecticides are not particularly toxic to humans. But in too great a concentration all bets are off.

Also, since the children are fine and the adult died, one might reach the conclusion that the adult had an abnormally high sensitivity to the chemical.

corgimom
34662
Points
corgimom 06/12/14 - 03:38 pm
1
2
LL, I am right there with you

LL, I am right there with you on this!

corgimom
34662
Points
corgimom 06/12/14 - 03:40 pm
1
2
LL, you could also reach the

LL, you could also reach the conclusion that the adult came in direct contact with the chemical or was in a enclosed space with poor ventilation- like a bathroom or closet- and was overcome.

corgimom
34662
Points
corgimom 06/12/14 - 03:41 pm
3
3
An agricultural insecticide

An agricultural insecticide is made to be used outdoors, not in a house.

This is just so terribly tragic.

burninater
9693
Points
burninater 06/12/14 - 04:31 pm
2
1
"The FDA must have some data

"The FDA must have some data showing it is more beneficial than harmful or they would not have approved it."
------
That's not how the U.S. regulates consumer and industrial chemicals, LL.

In the U.S., benefits do not need to be demonstrated, and suspicion of harm is insufficient for non-approval.

The U.S. sets a high evidentiary bar for proof of harm that would lead to the banning of a chemical's use, while the EU and other countries use a precautionary principle, that the suspicion of toxicity prevents a chemical's approval pending evidence that it ISN'T harmful.

This represents different moral outlooks -- proof of harm places industry before citizens, while proof of safety places citizens before industry.

Granted, this issue is different than that of the apparent improper use of a chemical suggested in this story.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 04:40 pm
1
0
Non-Approval

Regarding the BVO comment I made above, burninater posted:

In the U.S. . . . suspicion of harm is insufficient for non-approval.

Well, thank goodness for that! If someone merely "suspects" that something is harmful, that should not prevent it from being used. There needs to be toxicological studies that demonstrate its harm. So far, there has been no evidence presented that BVO is harmful to humans in the concentrations present in GatorAde or PowerAde.

burninater
9693
Points
burninater 06/12/14 - 04:59 pm
1
1
LL, the FDA ITSELF questions

LL, the FDA ITSELF questions the safety of BVO. However, they tabled further investigation of the issue for 40 years. And, contrary to your assertion, BVO toxicity produced by human beverage consumption HAS been documented.

"Safety questions have been hanging over BVO since 1970, when the FDA removed BVO from its "Generally Recognized as Safe" list of food ingredients. In 1970, FDA permitted its use only an "interim" basis pending additional study—one of only four such interim-allowed additives. Decades later, BVO is still poorly tested and remains on the interim list.

Health concerns start with the finding that eating BVO leaves residues in body fat and the fat in brain, liver, and other organs. Animal studies indicate that BVO is transferred from mother's milk to the nursing infant and also can cause heart lesions, fatty changes in the liver, and impaired growth and behavioral development. Those studies suggest that BVO might be harmful to people who drink large amounts of soft drinks that contain BVO. Indeed, doctors have identified bromine toxicity in two people who drank extremely large amounts of such sodas. Sensitive, modern studies are urgently needed to better understand the risk, especially at the lower levels typically consumed by large numbers of children. Meanwhile, BVO should not be used (it is not permitted in Europe)."

http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm

The "suspicion" that is implemented by the precautionary principle is based on empirical evidence. Toxicology is an extremely complicated thing to demonstrate, given the vast number of variables involved. Evidence producing a suspicion of a chemical's toxicity is considered by some countries as reason to exert precaution. When it comes to human health, many view precaution as simple common sense, and many countries take human health seriously enough to take that position.

Airman
3788
Points
Airman 06/12/14 - 05:51 pm
3
0
Corgi

"An agricultural insecticide is made to be used outdoors, not in a house." That may not be the case. My grandad used agricultural pesticide once when his old farm house was invaded by grasshoppers. Of course he put us in the yard and we slept in the barn that night. He opened all the windows first, tied a wet towel to his face and put out the chemical. The next day he cleaned the house and there were thousands of grasshoppers, dead that is. He spread the grasshoppers along the rows in the field where the grasshoppers originated in hopes that if any were left that the poison on the dead ones would kill any more that came around

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 06:29 pm
3
0
Fumicide

The six o’clock news on Channel 12 said that the name of the product is Fumicide. That, my friends, is the label name (aka brand name). It would be helpful if news media would also publish the chemical name of the main ingredient (which can be found on the label).

Channel 12 News said that Fumicide is used to kill rodents. If that report is accurate, then Fumicide is classified as a rodenticide and not an "insecticide" as published above.

As I commented above, most insecticides are not very toxic to humans. But when you are dealing with rodenticides, you have a whole ’nother story. Rodents are mammals (as are humans), so things that kill rodents are often toxic to humans.

The Augusta Chronicle should not shy away from publishing facts about chemicals here. Woefully, the general public today has great ignorance about chemistry and chemicals. Sometimes, we need an in-depth news story to educate those of us willing to read and learn.

Everything does not have to be a sound bite.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 06:45 pm
2
0
Google

Well, a quick Google search under "fumicide" revealed that there is such a product out there for household use. Here are some factoids from their website:

Product: FUMICIDE AUTOMATIC FOGGER
EPA Registration Number: 00722500001

This pesticide is used as a:
•INSECTICIDE
•MITICIDE

This pesticide is registered for unrestricted use.

This pesticide's toxicity code is 3, which corresponds to a toxicity category of Caution.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I don't know where Channel 12 News got their information about killing rodents, but that is apparently in error (unless their name of the chemical is in error).

The chemical is a pyrethrin, pyrethroid insect killer. They are very common and not particularly toxic to humans.

Now, for a personal story: a few summers back, our home became badly infested with fleas brought indoors and incubated by our numerous cats. We bought a number of those flea foggers (also pyrethrin based), set up one in each room, put the cats in the garage (which was strangely free of fleas), and at 8:00 p.m., pulled the trigger on each fogger and left to spend the night at a relative's house.

When we came back the next morning the cats were fine and the fleas were gone and we were not scratching our ankles the rest of the summer.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 06:51 pm
2
0
Fumicide Automatic Fogger

Actually, my previous post is a bit simplistic. The Fumicide Automatic Fogger is about

21% petroleum distillates

2% Piperonyl Butoxide

2% Ronnel

0.4% Pyrethrum

Of course, the remainder of the 100% are inert ingredients.

I'll spend a bit of time finding out for myself what piperonyl butoxide and ronnel are all about.

Ta, Ta.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 07:03 pm
1
0
Chemicals

From Wikipedia:

Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is an organic compound used as a component of pesticide formulations. It is a synergist. That is, despite having no pesticidal activity of its own, it enhances the potency of certain pesticides such as especially for carbamates, pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and rotenone. PBO was developed in the late 1930s and early 1940s to enhance the performance of the naturally derived insecticide pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is and was an important insecticide against mosquitoes and other disease-carrying vectors, thereby providing public health benefits, e.g., preventing malaria. Although exhibiting little intrinsic insecticidal activity of its own, PBO increases the effectiveness of pyrethrins and were thus are called synergists. PBO was first patented in 1947 in the US by Herman Wachs.

And from freedictionary.com:

ron·nel

n.

A solid, light brown compound used as an insecticide, especially against flies and cockroaches.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 07:15 pm
3
0
Fumitoxin

Wow! While I was posting those factoids about Fumicide, The Augusta Chronicle updated the story to say that the product used was Fumitoxin.

A quick Google search shows that Fumitoxin is way different from Fumicide. It indeed is a rodenticide and is not labeled for household use.

Sad. A relative apparently chose the wrong chemical for a household application.

corgimom
34662
Points
corgimom 06/12/14 - 08:39 pm
0
0
Airman, that IS the case, and

Airman, that IS the case, and what your grandfather did was unbelievably dangerous.

Because after the fumes aired out, all of you kids were exposed to that film of chemicals that was deposited on every surface of that house.

All of you were LUCKY, poisoning is no joke.

corgimom
34662
Points
corgimom 06/12/14 - 08:43 pm
2
1
Burn, if you consume an

Burn, if you consume an abnormally large quantity of anything, you are risking a serious threat to your health.

People have died from drinking too much water, too.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 09:10 pm
1
0
Quantity

Thank you, Corgimom, for reminding Burn of an inconvenient truth.

:-)

augusta citizen
9718
Points
augusta citizen 06/12/14 - 09:15 pm
1
0
Fumitoxin

Yes, Little Lamb, Fumitoxin is a rodenticide, most commonly used either in enclosed silos for rodent control, or in burrows for gophers, moles, voles, etc. Never in a residential environment, it is restricted use and I can't imagine anyone but a private applicator/farmer or a business such as a golf club (also with licensed applicators) even having access to it. No way did a family member just walk into a store and buy this. This is very sad and my prayers go out to the family of the deceased.

Little Lamb
47258
Points
Little Lamb 06/12/14 - 09:17 pm
1
0
Fumitoxin

Okay, here is the entry web page for Fumitoxin. It shows that the product should not be referred to as an "insecticide."

Fumitoxin

I'm sure it is quite effective on insects. But it is also effective on cats, dogs, spiders, snakes, and humans if used in enclosed spaces.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Grad rates show improvement by local school systems

Graduation rates in both Richmond and Columbia counties followed the statewide trend of slow and steady increases in 2014, although progress in individual schools varied greatly.
Search Augusta jobs