Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brothers died of pesticide poisoning

NST: ALOR STAR: Pesticide poisoning has been identified as the cause of death of two brothers in Kampung Kota Bukit near Jeneri in Sik District, about 90km from here, 10 days ago.
Sik District police chief Deputy Superintendent Zaidong Mustaffa said traces of the pesticide "carbofuran" were found in the urinary tracts of Edi Emizan Azimi, 22, and his brother Faizal, 21. "Chemical tests also showed traces of the pesticide in the jug of coffee the boys drank from. We have ruled out foul play, but we are investigating how the pesticide found its way into the jug," he said.
An Internet search showed carbofuran has the highest acute toxicity to humans of any insecticide. Widely used on field crops, a quarter teaspoon of carbofuran (about one millilitre) can be fatal.
In the United States, carbofuran is applied by commercial applicators using closed systems with engineered controls, so there is no exposure to the chemical through pouring or measuring. Prolonged exposure to the pesticide results in headache, sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, chest pain, blurred vision, anxiety and general muscular weakness.
The boys were reported to have suffered from headache, nausea and chest pains after drinking some coffee which they had prepared in the jug.
Initially, police believed the boys may have died of food poisoning after eating nasi lemak and ikan kering tamban before drinking the coffee.
Their father, rubber tapper Azimi Ahmad, 45, shared the meal and had some of the coffee but he survived.
He was warded for two days at Sik Hospital. Zaidong said Azimi survived because he had put some ice in his coffee.
"The boys’ coffee had a stronger concentration of the pesticide," he said.
He said tests on the rice and fish showed no signs of carbofuran.
The boys’ youngest brother, Mohd Alif Asraf, 12, said his family had not been informed of the cause of death.
"We are still sad. My parents are away visiting relatives and won’t be back until later tonight," he said when New Straits Times rang up the family home.

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