The Pesticides and Toxic Chemical Control Board (PTCCB), under the Ministry of Agriculture, is
sending out a strict warning to consumers about the danger of using Aluminum Phosphide, commonly known as ‘carbon tablet’ as a Rodenticide (rat poison).
According to Registrar of the Pesticides Board, Tricia David, carbon tablet is a lethal material which releases highly toxic phosphine gas.
The product, which is mainly marketed as Phostixin Phospro Weevil CIDE Fumiking Al – Phos, contains Aluminum Phosphide and came into use in the 1950s and is destructive to many storage pests.
Phosphine gas is notoriously lethal; it is a fast acting, systematic and corrosive killer. The lethal chemical “denatures” and breaks down a range of enzymes and proteins inside the body, including the ones responsible for moving oxygen through the body and severely damages the heart. In addition it has no specific antidote.
Studies of the chemistry of the Aluminum Phosphide have shown that the material is so highly potent, that people who accidentally inhale dust from the pellet or swallow material can produce Phosphine gas internally as the compound reacts with moisture in the body or even stomach acids. It is this rather appalling picture that had led to the restriction of the Aluminum Phosphide in Guyana by the PTCCB in 2007.
David said that only authorized distributors and consumers should be allowed to purchase and sell carbon tablets since its correct use is to fumigate specific products, which are to be exported.
She said that the PTCCB has been involved in a continuous campaign to sensitize the public on the harmful effects of using such a product in their homes. The campaign entails Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and seizure of the products from the marketplaces.
David said that the Board has since confiscated $1.5 million worth of the illegal carbon tablets.
The Registrar explained that the Board intends to stop the sale of carbon tablets, while those caught in the act will have their products confiscated at first. Anyone caught selling the illegal pesticide without authorization more than once will be arrested, placed before the court and can face possible jail time.
She said that the Board will be working with the Police as it continues its efforts to stop the illegal sale of the dangerous pesticide.
Earlier this week, the PTCCB outlined in an advertisement that as a restricted pesticide, the product should only be used and handled by individuals who are trained and certified by the board to have access and use of the product.
The PTCCB warned that Aluminum Phosphide is not rat bait and should never be used as one.
According to the Board, the compound is only intended use is as a fumigant for the fumigation of grain and lumber in Guyana. Ever since the board made this fumigant a restricted pesticide, it has been raising awareness on its correct use and has been urging the general public to desist from purchasing the product for use as rat bait or any other household use.
The PTCCB advertisement further outlined that any use of this product by householders or anyone not authorized to do so can result in accidental poisoning and death. It is a controlled pesticide that should only be handled by professional pest control operator.
The Board urges individuals who are making this dangerous product available to the public to desist from such practices since this is a threat to their lives and that of their families. Additionally, such an act is an offence under the Pesticides Act, Number (13) thirteen of 2003 and can result in imprisonment.
The general public is therefore advised to desist from purchasing and using the product. Illegal vending of the product is an offence punishable under the laws of Guyana.
According to the advertisement, the Board will be embarking on a series of other enforcement activities targeting all marketplaces, supermarkets, pharmacies, as well as street vendors to adequately address this issue.
“We need to teach everyone to safeguard themselves against the deadly implications of compounds of this nature so that when someone we know suggests using carbon tablet for rats, roaches or to fumigate their homes, there’s always someone to remind that this is a very very bad idea.”
The Board has since provided a list of rodenticides which are registered to be used in Guyana. The list includes Brigand, Brodifacoum Cuomafen Wax Block, Eagle , Klerat Wax Blocks, Storm rat bait , and Raticate Bait Blocks.
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