Pesticide poisoning

Kerala's tryst with pesticide-related deaths continue

By Surendranath C
Published: Wednesday 15 August 2001

in two
separate incidents in Idukky district in Kerala, one boy died and 41 persons were hospitalised after being exposed to phorate, an extremely hazardous pesticide, on June 26, 2001. The pesticide, which is widely used in the state, is a restricted use pesticide and is part of the us Environmental Protection Agency's list of toxic elements.

According to Thanal Conservation and Information Network, a Thiruvananthapuram-based non-governmental organisation, a 16-year-old boy, Kannan, working at the Prakash Estate, a cardamom plantation at Meppara, died after continuous inhalation of phorate. Kannan was a daily wage labourer in the plantation. He had spayed the pesticide six days ago. Apparently, nobody had bothered to warn the boy of the hazardous nature of the chemical.

While working, Kannan started vomiting and died when he was being taken to the St John's Mission Hospital, Kattappana. In fact the same day, 41 people were also brought to the same hospital with similar symptoms speaks volumes of the intensity of pesticide misuse in the state. The victims, most of them women, were workers at the Karintharuvi Tea Estate. Thanal researchers who visited the area said phorate was being used in the estate. The tea estate management has refused to admit that the problem was due to pesticide poisoning. They say it is a malicious campaign to discredit the company.

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