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New Pesticide Rules Following Deaths of Two Utah Girls

A year after the deaths of 4-year old Rebecca Kay Toone and her 15-month old sister, Rachel Anna Toone, commerical pesticide applicators in Utah are facing tougher rules and increased accountability.

The Deseret News is reporting that notices have been sent to the more than 1,000 commercial pesticide companies in Utah and some 4,700 commercial and noncommercial pesticide applicators, mandating that consumers be notified in advance and given specific written information when products labeled “danger” are used.

In the case of the Toone sisters, Bugman Pest and Lawn applied pellets containing Fumitoxin directly under a back-filled front-porch pad, despite federal restrictions requiring the toxin be applied no closer than 15 ft. from a home. While 10-20 pellets the size of a pencil eraser per burrow are recommended, a company invoice indicated that 1.2 pounds, or 907 pellets were used. Fumitoxin is 55 percent aluminum phosphide, which reacts with water to produce phospine gas, which is highly deadly and strictly regulated. Just ten pellets can produce enough gas to become immediately dangerous to health and life. While the girls’ mother noticed a strange odor and questioned the applicator about it, she was told not to worry.

Bugman was indicted on three counts of unlawful use of pesticides stemming from this incident, as well as two others in which toxic chemicals were applied unlawfully. Five additional charges have been filed in federal court, arising from other alleged misapplications of the toxic pellets. The Toone family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

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