Aluminum Phosphide is a category 1 restricted use pesticide, the highest
toxicity category assigned and regulated by the Environmental Protection
Agency. The Fumitoxin brand of this pesticide is often used to poison
prairie dogs on private land in Longmont. Only certified pesticide
applicators are allowed to use the pesticide, but this doesn’t mean children
are safe from this dangerous substance, even though it is tightly regulated.
In 2010 two Utah girls, aged 4 years and 15 months, died as a result of
phosphine gas exposure when a licensed pesticide applicator negligently
applied Fumitoxin on the lawn of the girls’ home to kill voles. Phosphine
gas is produced when pellets of an aluminum phosphide product, such as
Fumitoxin, react with moisture.
Most residents have no idea this dangerous pesticide is being used in their
neighborhoods. They are taken by surprise when they see pesticide
applicators fumigating prairie dogs on the vacant lot located next to their
house, a place where their children play and neighbors walk their dogs. A
pesticide applicator is supposed to post a danger sign on the site but many
times neighbors are not even aware it’s there.
Whenever a private property owner plans to poison prairie dogs on his land,
the city should require the property owner to obtain a city permit and also
give written notification to neighbors living close to the proposed
fumigation site, prior to pesticide fumigation activities commencing.
Residents have the right to know what’s happening in their neighborhoods.
It is a public safety issue.
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