Girl dies after eating minute amount of lindane ant powder
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 Sussex girl.
A Coroner has concluded that the most likely cause of Sharna Richardson’s death was lindane, even though she only consumed a tiny amount of the powder, kept in thousands of garden sheds and kitchen cupboards all over the country. It is still legally on sale 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 some other children one August day in 2000 in St Leonards on Sea, in Sussex. One of the children was given some Doff ant powder which they sprinkled on ants nearby. Sharna was seen licking her hand which was covered in white powder. That evening she began to be sick and later died in hospital.
Doff ant powder contains only a low level of lindane. Sharna consumed much less of the chemical than the amount which, until now, scientists thought to be the lethal dose for a child. This was previously thought (for a child of her weight) to be about a third of a bottle of this product. But Sharna had less than a teaspoonful.
‘Lindane is a dangerous chemical which should never have been allowed on the shelves of DIY stores’, says Sandra Bell of Friends of the Earth ‘This tragic death shows that the existing regulations for pesticides do not offer enough protection. The Government must now look again at the way it approves pesticides and build in a much more cautious approach including higher safety factors to account for children or adults who may be very sensitive to particular chemicals. Where reliable data is not available, as was the case with lindane, the Government should be prepared to ban pesticides.’
Helen Lynn of the Women’s Environmental Network comments: ‘How can consumers trust what they are told about supposedly "safe" exposure levels to hazardous chemicals when Sharna Richardson's death show even tiny amounts can kill?’
If the government bans lindane outright arrangements will have to be made for existing stocks of lindane ant powder 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.
David Buffin and Alison Craig, Pesticide Action Network UK
Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth, UK
Mr Murray Smedley, Doff Portland, Nottingham, UK
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