ALBERTA, Canada — A 8-month-old is dead and her four siblings remain hospitalized after the children’s mother reportedly used an illegally imported pesticide to treat their home for bed bugs.
According to CBC, the girl died Monday after she was exposed to phosphine, a fumigant.
CBC reported that the insecticide was brought into Canada illegally from Pakistan, according the children’s aunt.
Phosphine is a gas in its natural form, and is usually made into a powder, along with calcium or aluminum, to be sold in tablet form. When mixed with water in a humid environment, it releases toxic gas.
Keith Solomon, a toxicologist, told the CBC, “It gets into the lungs, and then gets into the tissues in the lungs, and then starts to destroy, basically, the energy production in the cells. This causes cell damage and eventually the death of the individual.”
The mother was also taken to the hospital, and later released. The other children reportedly remain in critical condition.
Zaid Suliaman, the president of the Pakistani Cultural Association in the family’s area, told CBC that the situation could have been worse.
“[If] it got wet on the airplane [while being transported], you could have had a whole airplane full of dead people,” he reportedly said.