Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Pesticide toxicity and the Precautionary Principle
I was interested in knowing more about the type of pesticide that was noted in the news stories today about 4 children killed in a Texas home.
I found that "Aluminum Phosphide" is the chemical with an "Acute Hazard Warning Label of '1 Danger'" that reacts with water to form a toxic gas. Below is a pesticideinfo.org site that identifies several active U.S. Pesticide Products that contain pellets, tablets or fumigant bags containing aluminum phosphate and is used for many different types of pest and crop control purposes. One example is Killz-all 60 tablets and the screen shot below displays summary toxicity information for the product.
Investigating a little more about what the ? marks mean in the screen shot there is a link to a "Weight-of-the evidence" assessment that explains some of the obstacles to an objective and timely evaluation of chemicals before they are made available for public use. Scrolling up on the same page reveals a lot more detail about the "Limitations of Available Human Toxicity Data." http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Docs/ref_toxicity1.html#WeightofEvidence
In my opinion we should demand that the "Precautionary Principle" be applied as a guide to making wiser decisions in the face of uncertainty about new products or actions. Below is a link to a "Science & Environmental Health Network" site that explains the principle. "When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." "The principle applies to human health and the environment. The ethical assumption behind the precautionary principle is that humans are responsible to protect, preserve, and restore the global ecosystems on which all life, including our own, depends." http://www.sehn.org/ppfaqs.html