ST. GEORGE — A 70-year-old man died Monday after coming in contact with industrial pesticide in a home in Teasdale, a small town in Wayne County.
After encountering the pesticide, the man, who was identified as George Coombs, was taken to the Wayne Community Health Center in Bicknell. As a precaution, the health center was closed, and medical personnel who treated the man were taken to other hospitals in Richfield and Gunnison, said Kassidee Brown, Wayne County public information officer.
Brown told St. George News that all responding medical staff have since been released from the hospitals in good health after being watched and screened.
The pesticide Coombs came in contact with was aluminum phosphide, a highly poisonous pesticide that can fatally affect one’s heart, nervous system and respiratory tract, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Aluminum phosphide can be absorbed into the body by inhaling its fumes or through ingestion, according to the CDC. The CDC recommends attempting to induce vomiting in conscious people before going to the hospital if aluminum phosphide is ingested.
How Coombs encountered the pesticide or how it entered his system is still under investigation, Brown said.
Aluminum phosphide is a fumigant used to control insects and rodents, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which places the pesticide in its highest-toxicity category. In addition, its use is restricted to certified applicators or someone under their direct supervision.
Investigators from the Utah National Guard scoured the clinic and the home where Coombs was found to make sure there was no longer a public health risk from remnants of the pesticide, according to a press release from the Wayne Community Health Center.
Before the clinic opened and returned to normal operating hours on Tuesday, investigators deemed the clinic to be safe with no threat to the public.
“No hazardous reading were found within the building or near the deceased,” the press release stated.
While the health center was closed, a small temporary clinic was set up at the Wayne Community Center in Bicknell, and ambulances were still available for emergencies.
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