PANNA: Girl Dies After Eating Small Amount of Lindane Ant Powder
Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
The Ban Lindane Campaign is calling for all lindane products to be taken off shelves immediately and for existing stocks to be handed in for safe disposal, after the tragic death of an eight-year-old girl in the United Kingdom (UK).
On January 30, 2002, a Coroner concluded that the most likely cause of Sharna Richardson's death was lindane, even though she consumed only a tiny amount of the pesticide. Lindane is kept in thousands of garden sheds and kitchen cupboards throughout the UK, and is still legally on sale there until June 2002.
"Sharna's case reveals just how dangerous this chemical really is," says David Buffin of the Ban Lindane Campaign. "Everyone should get rid of these products from their homes."
Sharna was playing outside with other children in August 2000 in St. Leonards on Sea in Sussex. One of the children had some "Doff" brand ant powder which they sprinkled on ants nearby. Sharna was seen licking her hand which was covered in white powder. That evening she became sick, was hospitalized and later died.
Doff ant powder contains only a low level of lindane. At the inquest, a Doff representative stated that, on the basis of toxicological data from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a lethal dose for a child of Sharna's weight would be 640 milligrams of lindane (at 20 mg/kg/body weight), approximately one third of a bottle of this product. Sharna is estimated to have ingested less than a teaspoon.
A European Union decision on July 13, 2000, called for a statutory withdrawal from sale of lindane products by June 20, 2002. For "Atlas Steward," "Doff Ant Killer," "Doff Weevil Killer" and "Doff gamma BHC dust," the notices prohibited advertisement, sale, supply, storage and use by the manufacturers and their agents of existing stocks of the products. However, retailers would still be allowed to advertise and sell these products until the June 20, 2002 date.
The Ban Lindane Group, a UK alliance of groups including Pesticide Action Network UK, Womens Environmental Network, Unison, Soil Association and Friends of the Earth, are calling on government officials to have all household products containing lindane withdrawn immediately, before the June 2002 statutory withdrawal. They also call for an awareness-raising campaign since it is likely that these products will remain in people's homes and sheds for months or years to come.
According to the Ban Lindane Group, if governments ban lindane outright, arrangements will have to be made for existing stocks to be collected and disposed of in a safe manner otherwise the lindane is likely to be disposed of inappropriately.
"Local authorities do not have appropriate systems for dealing with hazardous waste and therefore specialist disposal companies will need to be called in. The cost for this operation should be borne by pesticide manufacturers who profit from the sale of these products," says Mark Davis, PAN UK's pesticide disposal expert.
Several European countries had already banned all uses of lindane, including Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden. Lindane has also been banned for all uses in Finland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand (since 1990), Norway (since 1991) and Turkey (since 1978). It is also banned in more than two dozen developing countries, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia and Mozambique. Lindane is currently undergoing review for reregistration in the United States.
Source: PAN UK press release, March 11, 2002.
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.