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Aluminum phosphide sickens four in Albany

ALBANY, Ga. -- Documents obtained from the Albany Fire Department indicate that aluminum phosphide was the chemical that caused four people in a home on the 2800 block of Banks Avenue to become ill Sunday.

Dougherty County EMS Director Bobby Tripp confirmed Tuesday that four people were taken to the hospital around 4 a.m. Sunday after complaining of feeling sick and vomiting.

Officials with the fire department said the occupants of the home had sprayed the aluminum phosphide pesticide underneath their home to deter fleas.

According to the information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), aluminum and magnesium phosphide are fumigants generally used to control insects and rodents. The chemicals are primarily used for indoor fumigation of raw agricultural commodities, animal feeds, processed food commodities, and nonfood commodities in sealed containers or structures, and for outdoor fumigation of burrows to control rodents and moles in non-domestic areas, non-cropland, and agricultural areas.

Aluminum phosphide is generally sold as tablets, pellets, impregnated materials and dusts.

The EPA has classified aluminum and magnesium phosphide as restricted use chemicals and can only be used by "certified pesticide applicators with respect to rodent control for burrows at least fifteen feet from a residential structure is considered a residential use."

The EPA also states that aluminum and magnesium phosphide react with moisture in the atmosphere, which cause a phosphine gas to occur and can be inhaled.

The EPA has classified aluminum and magnesium phosphide as dwelling in Toxicity Category I, the highest (most toxic) of four categories, for acute effects via the inhalation route.

According to Dougherty County EMS officials, the Albany household is in good condition and have recovered.