Travel Horror Results in Multi-Million Dollar Award For Family Nearly Killed by Banned Pesticide

By Jason Erickson

The challenge of dodging pesticides in modern food is well established, but not many people have considered another hidden danger that led to tragedy for one vacationing Delaware family.

The Esmond family – husband, wife, and two sons – were staying at a condominium complex in St. John, U.S. Virgin islands when all of them began to feel ill on their second day. Over the following months, all required continued treatment with Stephen Esmond and both sons eventually deteriorating into critical condition and determined to have suffered lasting neurological damage.

The cause? An odorless pesticide, methyl bromide, had been sprayed in the condo beneath theirs prior to the start of their 8-day vacation. Incredibly, methyl bromide has been banned for indoor use since 1984 by the EPA due to the risk of central nervous system damage and respiratory effects. Nonetheless, maker of the pesticide – Terminix – admitted to applying the chemical at not only the location in question but 13 others.

Courthouse News is reporting that two years after the incident, Terminix will be paying an $8 million criminal settlement to the family as well as a $1 million fine to the EPA for the subsequent clean-up of the affected areas. It is also suspected that a final total settlement upwards of $90 million could be forthcoming.

What is truly frightening about this event is that Terminix is no small company and has a very long history. They now operate in 47 states and 22 countries, offering a variety of products and services in both residential and commercial pest control. From their About page:

In addition to creating innovative new technologies, our experts have developed pest control products for the government, authored scientific publications, and lectured to scientific and community groups around the world. It is because of them that we continue to lead the industry today.

Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA

It is difficult to believe that even a settlement approaching $100 million will leave anything but the smallest dent upon their profitability.  As one reads the statement from Terminix, it sounds contrite but clearly indicates that they will proceed with business as usual:

“We have taken the lessons learned here to heart. We have devoted significant resources to improving our policies, procedures, training, and environmental management systems, here and nationwide. We are working cooperatively with the Environmental Protection Agency on this exercise,” Robinson said.

This illustrates the dangers that pesticides can pose even if they are put under heavy regulation.  Any mistake, deliberate or due to a lack of training can have disastrous consequences. Moreover, one has to question just how effective the EPA’s regulatory regime is to continue permitting what is clearly a lethal chemical into the environment at all, and continuing to license and “cooperate” with the company that produces it.

Jason Erickson writes for This article (Travel Horror Results in Multi-Million Dollar Award For Family Nearly Killed by Banned Pesticide) may be republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Image Credit: Natural Blaze

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