Pesticide poisoning
Skin contact with Cygon 2E sends child to hospital

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 16/00) - A child was hospitalized last week after coming into contact with the pesticide Cygon 2E.

Deputy fire chief Mike Lowing said he could not release any specific information about the child's condition as per request from the family, but could reveal the child came into contact with the chemical at home.

"Basically the child did get access to it, opened it up and poured it out and came into contact with the product. Subsequently then, so did the family members as they very appropriately rushed to decontaminate the child by rinsing (him or her) with water," said Lowing.

The chemical is a pesticide currently being used in the city to rid local birch trees of an insect called the leaf miner.

Last week Mackenzie Management advised the tenants of seven local apartment complexes to avoid birch trees located around the buildings, as it planned on applying Cygon 2E on Aug. 9 to kill the insects.

It is believed several other residents are also using the potentially-fatal pesticide on trees near their homes.

"Everybody is going to be whacking this stuff on trees throughout the city, which means that there will be plenty of opportunities for spills," said Lowing.

Don Helfrick, hazardous waste specialist for environmental protections services at RWED, said Cygon 2E is a manufacturer's name for a pesticide known as Dimethoate, which is used to kill insects and spiders.

"It's a very toxic chemical," said Helfrick. "It's a moderate to high toxin and it would affect people or animals in a number of different ways."

The chemical poses a serious threat if inhaled, ingested or comes into contact with the skin. It can cause the body's nervous system to shut down.

Helfrick said people who use the pesticide should read the label thoroughly before applying it to plants. During application, cover all skin and wear boots, eye goggles, gloves, a wide-brimmed hat and a respirator.

The chemical should also be avoided after it is applied.

If human skin does come into contact with Cygon 2E, Helfrick said the affected area should immediately be washed thoroughly at least two or three times before seeking medical attention. If the pesticide gets into the eyes or is inhaled or ingested, medical attention should be sought immediately.

For alternatives to Cygon, people can call Agriculture Canada's pesticide directorate at 1-800-267-6315.