Investigators find neurotoxin that killed three in western Romania, deratization firm owner arrested
The neurotoxic substance that killed two children and a young mother living in an apartment building in Timisoara, Western Romania, is aluminum phosphide, a cheap pesticide used for disinsection and deratization, according to sources quoted by Timis Online.
Three people (a 10-day baby, a 3-years-old child and his 29-year-old mother) lost their lives and 14 others ended up at the hospital with poisoning symptoms after the apartment building they lived in was disinfested. On Tuesday morning, 16 children and 12 adults who were living in the same building, were in the hospital.
The whole building was evacuated on Monday and the residents were accommodated at a high school in town. Another building was evacuated on Monday evening, after the authorities found that the same firm had also performed a disinsection there as well.
The owner of the firm that deratized the two buildings was held for 24 hours on charges of manslaughter and traffic with toxic substances, according to Agerpres.
"In this case, there are indications that, in the process of deratization, the suspect used an insecticide called Delicia - GASTOXIN, which contains aluminum phosphide, a very toxic substance, with lethal effects in case of inhalation and which requires special authorization for use. The criminal investigation bodies ordered the preventive measure of detention for a 24-hour period, starting with November 19, at 3.30," the head prosecutor of the Timis Court said in a press release.
The suspect admitted to having bought the pesticide from the black market, without legal forms. He also told the investigators that he used higher quantities of the substance, not knowing its effects, according to G4Media.ro.
Aluminum phosphide (AlP) is a cheap pesticide mainly used in agriculture. It is also one of the most common causes of poisoning among agricultural pesticides. It liberates lethal phosphine gas when it comes in contact either with atmospheric moisture or with hydrochloric acid in the stomach, according to the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock.
AIP poisoning commonly occurs through ingestion but can also occur through phosphine inhalation. “After inhalation exposure, patients commonly have airway irritation and breathlessness. Other features may include dizziness, easy fatigability, tightness in the chest, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia, numbness, paraesthesia, tremor, muscle weakness, diplopia and jaundice. In severe inhalation toxicity, the patient may develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), cardiac failure, cardiac arrhythmias, convulsion and coma, and late manifestation of hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity may also occur,” the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock says.
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