Pesticide Poisoning Inside the Home

Pesticide Poisoning Inside the Home

Editor:

On November 29, 1996, our family – Joe Crozier, wife Yvette Maiangowi, and four-year-old son James – moved into a home in Scottsdale, Arizona that we had bought the month before. We were healthy when we moved in, but over the next few months we all became sick with many serious ailments, including respiratory and neurological problems.

At first we thought these were caused by pollens, molds or dust, so we had the carpets and air ducts cleaned, replaced the old heating and air-conditioning equipment with a new air-source heat pump, installed a HEPA-type filter and UV light at the heat pump’s intake (the light kills mold spores), and thoroughly cleaned the home, including disinfecting the walls and ceilings in the bedrooms and bathrooms. None of this worked; our symptoms worsened.

On May 20, 1997 Joe saw a medical doctor who specializes in environmental illness (EI). He diagnosed pesticide poisoning. He said we would find many small holes in the home’s slab, through which someone had sprayed pesticides that were outgassing and poisoning us. We checked underneath the carpets and found about fifty unsealed 1/4-inch holes drilled through the concrete foundation, mostly in the master bedroom and James’ bedroom.

During the next few weeks we removed the carpets, scrubbed down the floor, and started sealing the holes with premixed concrete. While doing this, our symptoms became so severe that on June 15, 1997 we were forced to evacuate the home. We never moved back.

Clinical evaluation and laboratory tests showed that chemicals had damaged our immune systems. We all had abnormally high blood levels of xylene, a neurotoxic solvent frequently used as an "inert" ingredient in pesticides. An environmental engineer found airborne Dursban, a neurotoxic pesticide. She also measured soil concentrations of Dursban, in two places near the bedrooms, 2.5 and 8.5 times the Arizona Administrative Code limits.

Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission records showed that on nine occasions from March 3, 1993 to November 2, 1995, a pesticide company hired by the previous owner sprayed more than 758 gallons of five different pesticides – in the attic, in the walls, and under the foundation. This included 370 gallons of Dursban TC (termiticide concentrate). The previous owner’s wife died in the home in March 1995.

Our doctor put us on a chemical detoxification program using nutritional supplements. On his recommendation we switched to organic foods to minimize further poisoning by pesticides. We tested allergic to numerous foods and inhalants, and started immunotherapy. We can only tolerate low-toxicity cleaning products in the apartment where we’re living at present, and must operate air purifiers continually in the apartment and in Joe’s car to stay symptom-free.

Despite all this, we’re still not healthy. We’ve all developed sensitivities to many substances that never bothered us before, including perfume, conventional cleaning products, swimming-pool chlorine, phenol, formaldehyde, and the pesticides in widespread use throughout the Phoenix area. Our respiratory and neurological symptoms recur if we stray too much from our rotation-elimination diets. Progress has been slowest for James. Last year we were forced to conclude that his immune system was damaged so badly that he could never adapt well enough to the highly toxic Phoenix environment to recover. Yvette took him back to Canada in July 1999. His symptoms are somewhat reduced there, but he will need years of medical treatment and strict control of his living environment before he recovers fully, if ever.

No government agency – federal, state, county, municipal – has helped us. They all say they have no authority or jurisdiction in these matters. This situation has cost us many tens of thousands of dollars. Prolonged acute pesticide poisoning is associated with many long-term health problems, and the cost of coping with these is much higher still. In October 1998 a real estate appraiser told us the home is uninhabitable, worthless. Our savings ran out three months ago – we’re now bankrupt. And each month without medical treatment increases the probability that our immune system damage will be permanent.

Conclusions and Questions

The realtor committed a material breach of the purchase/sale contract. He failed to disclose to us that the home was so badly contaminated by pesticides that it was uninhabitable.

The pest control company committed the tort of negligence by spraying the home top-to-bottom with more than 758 gallons of highly neurotoxic chemicals, and failing to take prudent and reasonable precautions to prevent these poisons from contaminating the home’s living spaces.

Because the aforementioned refused to take responsibility for injuring us, our family’s health is devastated, our finances destroyed, our future opportunities and prospects grimly diminished, and our life together as a family disrupted beyond recognition.

For their failure to have justice served in this case, whether due to inability or apathy, we give almost all municipal, county, state, and federal officials with whom we’ve dealt, a grade of F.

For their total failure to have justice served in this case, despite clear, complete, and convincing evidence that the realtor and pest control company are guilty of injuring us, we give each person in the legal profession with whom we have dealt, a grade of F.

Each new home in central Arizona has 400 to 500 gallons of organophosphate pesticides under its foundation. Older homes had 150 to 250 gallons of persistent chlorinated pesticides initially sprayed under their foundations. These substances are extremely neurotoxic by design and immunotoxic in behavior – in essence, they’re chemically-engineered assassins.

A significant percentage of Arizona homes have defects such as cracks in their foundations that provide paths through which pesticide vapors can enter and contaminate living spaces.

A US Air Force study published in 1987 found that 7% of homes surveyed had dangerously high levels of chlordane, a chlorinated pesticide that remains neurotoxic for decades. Due to the widespread use in the last 12 years of organophosphate pesticides – close relatives of the nerve gas poisons developed by the Nazis – a similar study done today would almost certainly reveal an even higher percentage of homes poisoned with a mixture of toxic gases.

If as few as 10% of the homes in the Phoenix area are dangerously contaminated, that equals 100,000 homes; 100,000 poisoned children, many of whom may have suffered irreparable damage to their central nervous systems and immune systems by the time they start school.

Nationwide, millions of children are at high risk.

Convincing medical and epidemiological evidence links pesticide poisoning with long-term neurological illnesses such as depression, headaches, reduced concentration and decision- making abilities, visual disturbances, memory impairment, neurobehavioral effects; allergies and asthma; sensitivity to chemical odors previously tolerated; immune system diseases.

Better pest management methods exist – have existed for decades. Compared with methods based on pesticides such as Dursban, these alternatives are as effective. Non-toxic. Cheaper.

Decontaminating the existing housing stock will be a daunting task. The problem worsens daily. To fail to immediately switch to safer pest control methods will not only impose major, unnecessary economic burdens on those who will live in our communities in the future, but also condemn uncounted children to needless suffering.

Can we hope for progress? 34 months after being driven from our home, 12 government departments and 200 lawyers later, with evidence of causation and liability so complete and convincing that a top EPA health statistician – the nation’s expert on the epidemiology of Dursban poisoning – declared the quality of our documentation to be "excellent," are we any closer to seeing justice served for ourselves and our son?

If justice is not done in our case, what hope is there for all the people injured by pesticides who don’t know in detail who, what, when, where or how it happened? Who may not even realize their illnesses are due to pesticides? Public service employees won’t help these people. Lawyers won’t help these people. Who will help them?

For more information, see http://www.PoisonedInParadise.com. Contact us at the addresss below. Please help us set a precedent. Help save millions of kids from the ordeals of pesticide poisoning.

Correspondence:

JTCrozier@PoisonedInParadise.com

YMaiangowi@PoisonedInParadise.com

Did you know:

• The same airborne poisons covered by the 1990 Clean Air Act outdoors are usually present at much higher levels inside the average American home.

• The law does not cover indoor air quality, even though Americans spend 95% of their time indoors.

• The government won’t do anything to help people who are poisoned by pesticides in their homes.
Source: Everyday Exposure to Toxic Pollutants. Wayne R. Ott & John W. Roberts in Scientific American, Feb. 1998.

• The air in our home had Dursban (chlorpyrifos) at concentrations of 660 and 2,000 nanograms per m3.

http://www.tldp.com/

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