DOHA: With the onset of summer, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised people to take precautions when dealing with pesticides and insect repellents.
Many household products contain harmful pesticides, including cockroach sprays and baits, rat and other rodent poisons. Other products like flea and tick sprays, powders and pet collars, kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitisers, garden products, such as weed killers and some swimming pool chemicals may also include pesticides.
Senior Consultant in the Emergency Department at Hamad General Hospital (HGH), Dr Saad Abdulfattah Al Nuaimi (pictured), said, “Although pesticides are beneficial in some ways, they also have drawbacks, such as potential toxicity.
“This intoxication may result from intentional, accidental and occupational exposures. People can be exposed to pesticides in three ways: inhalation (inhaling pesticide), dermal (absorbing pesticides through the skin), and oral (getting pesticides in their mouth or digestive tract).”
He said people should be particularly careful when using products with pesticides. “The health effect of pesticides can reflect on the brain and nervous system and the hormone or endocrine system and can some fertility problems. Studies have shown pesticides may increase the risk of different types of cancers.
“The most important step is to always read the pesticide label. Directions are there primarily to help you achieve maximum benefits – the kind of pest control you desire – with minimum risk. Pesticide labels typically include an Environment Protection Agency (EPA) registration number. This means EPA has reviewed the product and determined it can be used with minimal or low risk if directions are followed,” he said.
According to Dr Al Nuaimi, other things to look for include ingredients statement or list of active ingredients, signal words such as CAUTION (least harmful), WARNING (harmful), or DANGER (most harmful).
He said label warnings could also recommend the kind of protective clothing you should wear, such as gloves or goggles. They may also tell you to keep children and pets away from areas treated with pesticides and indicate environmental hazards the pesticide may cause. “Always remember to read the label to ensure the product is used only against the pest(s) it is specified for on the label; only use the amount recommended and know first aid instructions mentioned in case of emergency,” he said.
Removing contact lenses before handling pesticides, washing one’s body rigorously, and cleaning under the fingernails immediately after pesticide use is recommended. “Never eat, drink or smoke when handling pesticides and wear personal protective equipment where required,” he advised.
“Purchase only the amount of pesticide that can be used within a short period of time, or for one application. Also be careful with storage – pesticides must be stored in original containers with original labels intact to ensure that it is used for intended purpose. Containers should be stored in areas set aside for pesticides. Never store them with other items and check regularly for leaks, tears, rust or loose lids,” he suggested. In emergencies, when a person is unconscious, having trouble breathing or having convulsions, speed is crucial so Dr Al Nuaimi recommended that people act fast. “Give the needed first aid immediately. Call an ambulance at 999. If possible, have someone make the call while you give first aid.”