Highly hazardous pesticides: policies should focus on bans, rather than secure storage, studies suggest

Generic image of a farmer in Sri Lanka spraying crops with pesticide

Global policies on access to highly hazardous pesticides – commonly ingested in acts of self-poisoning and suicide in rural Asia – should focus on national bans, rather than safe storage, according to two studies involving University of Bristol academics in The Lancet and The Lancet Global Health journals.

The first study is a randomised trial in 180 villages in Sri Lanka which found that secure storage had no impact on rates of self-poisoning or suicide, and the second is a review of global policies on highly hazardous pesticides which concludes that bans are the most effective way of reducing suicides.

Self-poisoning using pesticides is one of the three most common means of suicide worldwide according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and accounts for 14-20 per cent of all suicides. Many of these deaths occur in people who live in rural areas in low- and middle-income countries, making it a major public health problem in these regions.

In these areas, a high proportion of the population is involved in farming so pesticides are commonly stored in people’s homes. In contrast, in high-income countries, agriculture is practised on a large scale and most of the population do not use or have access to pesticides.

To restrict access to pesticides and prevent these deaths, the pesticides industry advocates for safer storage of pesticides, an approach that has received some support from the WHO and suicide prevention organisations.

A study published in The Lancet is the first randomised trial to study the effectiveness of this measure, testing whether improved storage reduced pesticide self-poisoning in rural communities in Sri Lanka – where self-poisoning using pesticides is the most common form of self-harm and the fifth leading cause of death.

In the study, 180 rural villages either continued storing pesticides in the usual way (90 villages, including more than 26,000 households and around 11,0000 individuals), or were provided with lockable storage containers that were secured in the ground (90 villages, including more than 27000 households and 114,000 individuals).

The farmers receiving the containers were given a choice to install their pesticide storage container in their fields, home garden or home. Almost all farmers (95.5 per cent) stored them within their gardens, while 3.6 per cent kept theirs in their field, 0.2 per cent stored them in their home, and 0.7 per cent of the containers were lost or returned to the researchers.

In villages using the improved storage, posters were displayed to promote the containers, and presentations were given every six months at farmers’ meetings. Other than this, there was no contact between the researchers and the communities for the three years of the study. During this time, suicides and self-poisonings were studied in all people aged over 14-years old.

At the end of the study, a quarter of the households in each group were surveyed to see how they stored pesticides. In the group who were provided with storage containers, half (53 per cent) were sometimes or always locking the pesticides in these container, while in the control group only 5 per cent sometimes or always used containers to store and lock away their pesticides.

There were 641 suicide attempts by pesticide poisoning in the control group, and 611 in those receiving lockable storage devices, meaning the rate of people self-poisoning using pesticides was similar between the two groups. There was no evidence of people switching from pesticide self-poisoning to other forms of self-harm.

“We found no evidence to say that improved storage of pesticides reduces the incidence of pesticide self-poisoning,” says senior author Professor Michael Eddleston, University of Edinburgh, UK. “Pesticide self-poisoning is a multi-faceted issue, with prevention requiring work at the individual, community and population level. While our study only looked at one type of secure storage, our findings run counter to current policy approaches advocating improved storage of pesticides to reduce self-poisoning. Combined with evidence from other countries, the trial suggests that policy makers should focus their attention on withdrawal of the most harmful pesticides from agricultural practice.” [1]

The authors note some limitations within their study, including that they only used data from small rural hospitals as evidence shows that this is where most people present to after pesticide self-poisoning, meaning some cases from larger hospitals may have been missed. However, quality controls revealed that very few cases were missed.

In an accompanying article in The Lancet Global Health journal, researchers conducted the first review of literature on the effect of changing regulations to restrict access to pesticides. These include administrative interventions including restricting sales to licenced users and outright national bans on the import and sale of specific pesticides, thereby removing the most harmful pesticides from farming practice.

The study reviewed 27 studies spanning 16 countries – including five low- and middle-income countries and 11 high income countries. The most common regulations applied were national bans of specific pesticides (12 studies in six countries – Jordan, Sri Lanka [2], Bangladesh, Greece, South Korea and Taiwan) and sales restrictions (eight studies in five countries – India, Denmark, Ireland, the UK and the USA).

National bans were effective in reducing pesticide-related suicides in five of the six countries where these were evaluated (all except Greece), and were associated with falls in overall suicide rates in three of the countries (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Korea). However, the evidence for the effectiveness of sales restrictions is less clear as the studies did not provide strong enough evidence.

“A worldwide ban on the use of highly hazardous pesticides is likely to prevent tens of thousands of deaths every year,” says lead author Professor David Gunnell, University of Bristol, UK. “Rather than focussing on safe storage, policy focus should shift towards bans on the pesticides most often used in suicide. This will involve identifying those most commonly contributing to suicide deaths in low- and middle-income countries, and replacing them with safer, less toxic alternatives to ensure pest management is still possible and allay concerns that pesticide bans may reduce crop yields.”

Writing in a linked Comment reflecting on the findings of The Lancet randomised trial, Professor Paul Yip, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, says: “Discouraging though these findings may seem, they are valuable in providing insights into the understanding of the complexities of any suicide prevention effort. Suicide is not a disease reflecting well defined pathological mechanisms, and the occurrence of suicidal behaviour is usually the outcome of complex interactions of socioenvironmental, behavioural, and psychiatric factors… Because the causes of suicides are multifactorial, restriction of means needs to be incorporated into a holistic and integrated suicide prevention programme rather than as a standalone measure… There is no silver bullet for suicide prevention and it needs to be understood, implemented, and interpreted in the local context.”

Further information

The Lancet study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, Chief Scientist Office of Scotland, University of Copenhagen, and NHMRC Australia. It was conducted by researchers from University of Edinburgh, University of Peradeniya, University of Bristol, University of Kelaniya, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, University of Oxford, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Provincial Department of Health Services, Anuradhapura, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, and University of Copenhagen.

The Lancet Global Health study received no funding, and was conducted by researchers from National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol, the University of Bristol, University of Peradeniya, National Taiwan University, University of Edinburgh, University of Copenhagen, Korea University College of Medicine.

Common mosquito can transmit Zika virus too, say Brazilian scientists

By Zee Media Bureau
 While the virus is not fatal to humans, it has been linked to serious birth defects in infants born to women who were exposed to the mosquito-borne disease, mainly through bites.
Common mosquito can transmit Zika virus too, say Brazilian scientists
(Representational image)

New Delhi: The Zika flavivirus that broke out as an epidemic in Brazil in 2015 and spread to 70 countries in the world, also made an appearance in India in late May this year.

With no treatment and/or vaccine available for the mosquito-borne disease, Zika is as strong as ever and the people just as vulnerable to its attack.

Till now, it was believed that the sole culprit of transmitting the virus was the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, that is also responsible for spreading dengue and chikungunya.

However, a disturbing discovery made by Brazilian scientists could increase the spread of Zika virus by a huge margin.

According to reports, not just the Aedes mosquito, but the common Culex mosquito is able to transmit the harmful Zika virus too.

Scientists at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in the Pernambuco state revealed that the virus can reach the insect’s salivary gland, “which is believed to indicate that Culex mosquitoes may be one of the vectors of the Zika virus”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The team’s findings were published on Wednesday by the Nature group.

Fiocruz said it will now analyse the physiological and behavioural characteristics of the Culex in its natural environment “to understand the role and the importance of this species in the transmission of the Zika virus”.

While the virus is not fatal to humans, it has been linked to serious birth defects in infants born to women who were exposed to the mosquito-borne disease, mainly through bites.

Zika can lead to infants with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, and to a sometimes debilitating condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults who have been bitten.

Bedbug Found in Boston Inspectional Services Building


A bedbug was found Thursday inside Boston’s Inspectional Services Department offices on Massachusetts Avenue.

Lisa Timberlake, the agency’s director of publicity, said building officials were alerted to an “isolated report” of a possible bedbug sighting at the 1010 Massachusetts Avenue offices of the Inspectional Services Department on Wednesday.

As a precautionary method, building officials hired bedbug sniffing dogs, which were dispatched throughout the building at 6 a.m. Thursday.

A single bedbug was detected, and the area in question was immediately sealed and heat treatment and monitoring devices were brought in.

Source: Bedbug Found in Boston Inspectional Services Building – NECN http://www.necn.com/news/new-england/Bedbug-Found-in-Boston-Inspectional-Services-Building-439675073.html#ixzz4pNv4ZBMg
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‘Boy, they itch like crazy’: Bedbugs bother Whitehorse visitors and residents

By: Rachel Levy-McLaughlin

Apartment dweller says ‘little bedbug buddies’ forced him to find somewhere else to stay


A bed bug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)


John Langdell said he had some unexpected visitors in his hotel in Whitehorse. An American tourist on a motorcycle trip with his friends, he said he was bitten by bedbugs in his hotel.

“The first night, I thought I’d been bitten by a mosquito, I had a couple of bites on my hands and my arms,” said Langdell. He said they swelled to be about the size of a dime.

“The next night I got bit even worse. Boy, they itch like crazy.”

He said he wasn’t sure what the bites were from, mosquito, spider or bedbug. But he has since spoken to a doctor who told him they were bedbug bites.

Despite the bites sticking around for a week, he said, Langdell wasn’t put off by Whitehorse. For him, those creepy, crawly hitchhikers are almost anticipated while travelling.

Whitehorse aerial

A recent visitor to Whitehorse reports he was bitten by bedbugs at a hotel in the city. (CBC)

“It’s just one of those things that happens,” he said, “part of travelling, and you can’t really avoid it.”

The summer months are the peak for spread of bedbugs, explained Whitehorse exterminator Nolan Newman with Orkin pest control.

With many people travelling, he said there is a greater chance of someone staying in a place that has bedbugs, and picking up bedbugs unknowingly.

“A lot of people when they check into a hotel, the first thing they do is throw their luggage on the bed and they leave their clothing around the bed,” said Newman.

“Bedbugs are very attracted to body odours and they will crawl into the clothing or into the suitcase.”

It isn’t just hotels that are grappling with this pest. They even crawl their way into private residences.

Arthur Johnston said his downtown apartment building has an infestation of bedbugs.

“For the last two months now I haven’t been able to stay there at all due to my little bedbug buddies,” said Johnston.

Though he is still paying rent, Johnston said he has been living elsewhere due to the bugs. The landlord of the building said they have spent thousands of dollars dealing with bedbugs.

Not a public health concern

Despite the fact that they make just about everyone feel itchy just to mention them, bedbugs are not actually considered a health concern, explained Craig Vanlankveld, a public health officer with Yukon’s  Environmental Health Services.

Bedbugs have not been known to transfer diseases, so they are considered a nuisance rather than a public health issue, he said.

Because of this, cases of bedbugs are not officially tracked. According to Shane Hickey with the Residential Tenancy Office, the responsibility typically falls to the landlord or property owner to deal with the bedbugs, and pest control companies like Orkin are the go-to to get rid of them.

While there are some acute cases of bedbugs in the city, Newman said this year has fewer than previous years.

“We’ve had some cases where we do almost daily calls for bedbugs,” said Newman. He says Orkin is currently receiving a couple of calls a week in Whitehorse about bedbugs.

“This year hasn’t been too bad.”

Newman said education and early detection is key to preventing bedbug infestations.


Two women on different continents lose babies to microcephaly. Were both cases of Zika?

‘The Secret Life of Zika Virus’ traces what we know about a virus that causes minor illness in adults but horrendous malformations in babies.

The story of the European baby is pretty well known by now.

It is, really, the mother’s story.

It is the archetypal story of Zika Virus infection, valued for its completeness and attention to clinical detail.

To this young mother we owe our most complete understanding of the disease. She showed great strength and resolve in looking beyond her own suffering, and willingly offered its painful details to public scrutiny. Convention demands that she remain nameless, but I’ll call her Nadya, which means hope.

In February 2015, Nadya, then twenty-five, discovered she was pregnant. Nadya was a volunteer in Natal, the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, a state in northeastern Brazil.

In the thirteenth week of pregnancy, she fell ill. She developed high fever and pain in her joints and behind the eyes. Soon she noticed a rash as well—a flat reddish coalescing itchy eruption.

Nadya wasn’t surprised. Many of her neighbours had similar symptoms of fever and rash. Natal was in the grip of Zika Virus Fever.

Nadya received good antenatal care. A sonography in the twentieth week showed a normally progressing pregnancy.

In her seventh month of pregnancy, Nadya returned home to Ljubljana, Slovenia.

In Ljubljana, Nadya registered for antenatal care, and as part of the initial workup, underwent sonography again.

This sonogram was worrying. What was happening within the baby’s head?

A constellation of calcific spots stippled the brain. In addition, the ventricles – the brain’s cavities through which nourishing cerebrospinal fluid circulate – were dilated.

This could mean brain damage.

The wait was agonizing, but there was no way to know for certain just then how bad it could be. The baby grew sluggish; it didn’t kick as often as before.

Three weeks later, when the sonogram was repeated, Nadya learned the worst.

Her baby had an abnormally small head and a severely damaged brain.

Nadya’s own body told her she was carrying a baby that was no longer very active. It had poor chances of survival. Its physical condition was tenuous given the evidence of growth retardation. If it did survive, its mental and intellectual abilities would be severely impaired.

Nadya made the decision to terminate her pregnancy. The pregnancy was terminated at thirty-two weeks. Nadya volunteered all the information needed to build a genetic profile. There was no record of disease or birth defects or heritable illnesses in her family.

She also permitted an autopsy on the foetus.

Meanwhile, in India…

The story of the other baby has not yet been told.

Her mother, Asha, lived in my neighbourhood. In the most crowded part of India’s busiest city. Like Nadya, Asha too was twenty-five. This was her third pregnancy.

Asha worked an eight-hour job as a maid throughout her pregnancy. Antenatal care? She had seen the doctor to confirm her pregnancy and book a bed for delivery. She hadn’t given it another thought until the baby stopped kicking.

That was worrying. She endured the day at work somehow, telling herself all she needed was an hour of quiet and the baby would feel right again.

The day dragged on, the children were fractious, her bickering sister-in-law was spoiling for a fight, and the tap ran dry a full hour ahead of stipulated time.

Her husband Manoj came home later than usual. After putting the children to bed, Asha ate her dinner on the fly as she washed and cleaned. It was only when she got to bed that she faced her anxiety.

The baby hadn’t moved, not once, all day.

Manoj was already asleep, it would be cruel to wake him with her worries.

In the morning, she told him they would have to see the doctor.

“It’s early yet, isn’t it?” he asked.

‘Three weeks early. But it hasn’t kicked since yesterday.”

Manoj felt her belly anxiously. She laughed at the fear in his eyes. “Don’t worry, everything’s just fine.”

But it wasn’t.

That afternoon, Asha delivered a dead baby.

The obstetrician called a paediatrician when she noticed the baby’s abnormal head.

“Microcephaly,” the paediatrician shrugged. “Happens sometimes.”

Nobody asked for an autopsy.

“What killed the baby?” Manoj asked. “Was it because Asha worked through her pregnancy? She wasn’t sick.”

“What did I do wrong?” Asha asked.

The doctor said, “It just happens sometimes. Too late now to do anything about it. But next time… There should be no next time. Two children are enough for you.”

Zika Virus maybe unknown in India, but microcephaly isn’t.

Asha and Nadya share the same anguish.

Health violations have been issued to owner of Jersey City home woman died in

Jersey City’s health department has issued violations to the owners of the home where a woman died Sunday morning, city officials said.

The owners of 177 Griffith St. were ordered to have their two-story home fumigated after firefighters found a serious bed bug infestation. First responders found the bugs when they were arriving to help a woman in her mid-40s who collapsed inside the home, officials said.

The woman’s death does not appear to be suspicious. Sources say her family told authorities she had been drinking and collapsed in front of them.

An exterminator was expected to visit the home yesterday. Further action against the owners will only likely come if the building is not cleaned.

Sources say the conditions were so bad inside the home, most firefighters had never seen an infestation that severe. The fire department’s hazmat team was also called in to spray down anyone who went inside the home.

Railroad workers fed up with pest problem at Hearne hotel

By Blakeley Galbraith

HEARNE, Tex. (KBTX) – Union Pacific workers routinely travel to Hearne for work on the railroad, but they say their time off-work is a living nightmare.

Corporate policy has a contract for the employees to stay at the Oak Tree Inn, but the Capture1244.JPGrailroad workers say they no longer want to stay there.

“We’ve have complaints of bed bugs and bites, and also just bugs in general –big roaches, waterbugs,” said Tony White, Union Pacific SMART-TD 937 vice president.

They say the issues at the hotel have carried over into their personal lives.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents where we’ve had guys that have gotten bit and are having to go home and it infested their own homes,” said White.

Union Pacific employees say they have reported the problems multiple times to hotel management, but don’t feel like anything has been done.

“We have attempted to make negotiations and work with the hotel. They continue to tell us that they close the room and spray it, however what we see is they pop up in another room shortly thereafter,” said Tracy Bartlett, SMART-TD 937 local chairman .

Oak Tree Management provided KBTX records from their partnership with Ecolab Pest Elimination that shows the company did not find any infestation on the property.

The hotel area manager, John Bulla told KBTX in a statement:

“I would like to state that the Oak Tree Inn, as a brand, has contracted with a National Company, Ecolab, to provide professional pest control with all our locations nationwide. As a brand we take all reports of bugs in rooms, regardless of what type of bug, very seriously. Once a report has been made known to the property from a Union Pacific Employee, we follow the protocol that has been established between the Oak Tree Inn and Crew Management of Union Pacific. Part of that protocol, depending on the type of bug, is to have Ecolab come out to the hotel’s location and conduct a thorough inspection of the room and treat the room based upon their findings. A report then is populated and given to the property, in which the property then supplies Crew Management a copy of the report. As to date, Ecolab has not been able to find any infestation of any kind to our Hearne TX location. We do dispute the accusations that have been brought forward since all reports have been addressed and recorded in accordance to the agreement between Oak Tree Inn and Union Pacific. There has always been an open line of communication between our brand and Union Pacific Crew Management regardless of the scenario and our Senior Management Team has been in contact with Crew Management as late as of this afternoon.”

White said he believes there is more work still to be done.

“I think the bigger problem may be addressing the whole floor at a time or cutting off a certain area and then taking care of a big area then move onto the next. It’s a little frustrating, but hopefully with a little extra attention, maybe we’ll get the job taken care of,” said White.

“It is terrible to think that a man has to go to work and worry about coming home with insect bites, bed bug bites or any kind of travelers he picked up along the way. A person should not have to live with those kind of worries when it comes the safety of his own family,” added Bartlett.

The Union Pacific employees have asked corporate to allow them to stay at a different hotel, but the request was denied. Corporate said they are aware of the problem.

“The safety and security of our employees is a major concern for Union Pacific. When there are issues regarding lodging conditions, processes and protocols are in place to allow for employees to file complaints and for UP to follow-up to insure they are addressed. UP is aware of the concerns at this particular hotel and are working with the proprietors to address them. We have confirmed that extermination services have been performed, and UP is conducting random inspections as well. We will continue to work with the hotel operators and our employees to alleviate these issues,” said Jeff DeGraff, Union Pacific Railroad Director of Corporate Relations and Media.


Bedbugs gone wild!

By: Nelson Branco

Toronto is tops again — but this is one creepy list we’d prefer not to be on.

Orkin Canada claims The Six has the largest bedbug infestation problem in Canada.

The problem seems so bad that Toronto was mentioned twice: Scarborough also made the top 10 at No. 9.

The pest and termite control company released the data because summer travel is in high gear, which means bedbugs might be doing a lot of free travelling this season.

Tracy Leach, a Toronto Public Health manager, assured the Toronto Sun that the bedbug problem hasn’t gotten worse than when it exploded in North America roughly 10 years ago.

“I can’t speak to the overall number of bedbugs in the entire city because they’re not reportable. But what I can say is we’re on track to receive the same number of complaints this year as we did in 2016,” Leach said.

She added no one is immune from the seemingly indestructible parasite that can invade any — no matter what neighbourhood or community you live in.

“(These nocturnal crawlers) do not discriminate,” Leach stressed. “Bedbugs are not a reflection of sanitary conditions. (Unknowingly,) people move bed bugs from one place to another location in the city — that’s how they survive. Of course, an area with a high concentration of people increases the bedbug risk.”

So what about the TTC? Can bedbugs survive on the subway? Or is that an urban myth despite a handful of recent eyewitness reports?

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross has maintained that “transit vehicles are an inhospitable environment for bedbugs and won’t survive long on their own.”

However, Leach put the issue to, er, bed, saying: “It’s possible to see a bedbug anywhere. Again, if someone has an extreme infestation at home, gets on the subway, certainly, they could drop one there. They’ve been found in many public places. But we’re not aware of any sightings on transit because the TTC isn’t a residence.”

But don’t fret — if a bedbug happens to jump on you on the transit system, you won’t be dinner right away.

“They don’t latch on and stay on a person,” Leach explained. “They harbour in a space — usually in a sleeping area — because they feed on a (dozing) person for a blood meal. If a person acquires a bedbug in a public place, the bedbug will hitchhike to find a new person to feed on at night.”

If we can put a man on the moon, surely we’ll be able to eliminate bedbugs forever, right?

“Bedbugs were never extinct before their recent comeback. They were under control because of the pesticides that existed at the time, but the chemical was banned because they were extremely harmful to human health,” she said. “Insects are very adaptable so I can’t comment. Control is our goal — not elimination at this time.”

Top 10 cities:





St. John’s






Toronto is the Capital of Canada for Bed Bugs

PR Newswire

TORONTOAug. 1, 2017 /CNW/ – With the summer travel season in high gear, the country’s largest pest control company is warning about an unwelcome visitor that could affect locals and tourists.

Orkin Canada expects this to be a bumper year for bed bugs. The warning comes as the company unveils its first ever list of bed bug cities.  The findings by Orkin Canada are based on the number of commercial and residential bed bug treatments carried out by the country’s largest pest control provider.

The top ten cities:


  • Toronto
  • Winnipeg
  • Vancouver
  • Ottawa
  • St. John’s
  • Edmonton
  • Halifax
  • Sudbury
  • Scarborough
  • Calgary


Entomologists say having a clean room does not prevent bed bugs; and two bed bugs can lay up to ten eggs in one day.  Anyone detecting signs of bed bugs are advised to seek expert advice to prevent widespread infestation.

Tips for homeowners and vacationers:

  • Inspect thoroughly the beds, soft furnishings and framed pictures – look for insects, blood stains, dead bugs and eggs
  • Keep all your luggage elevated and away from soft furnishings
  • When returning home, leave your luggage in the garage and put all clothing in the dryer at the highest appropriate temperature for at least 15 minutes

For more information about bed bug prevention, visit orkincanada.ca

The city rankings were based on all bed bug treatments by Orkin Canada at residential and commercial properties within Canada from July 1, 2016to June 30, 2017.  Download here for the full list of Canada’s bed bug cities.

About Orkin Canada
Orkin Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rollins, Inc. (NYSE:ROL) is the country’s largest pest control provider and leader in the development of fast, effective and environmentally responsible pest control solutions. One key program is the Home Pest Protection Program that prevents and eradicates pest infestations and provides key information about pests. Orkin Canada provides professional services to both residential and commercial clients from coast to coast. For more information, visit www.orkincanada.ca, like www.facebook.com/OrkinCanada or follow @orkincanada.

SOURCE Orkin Canada


Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

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Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety