Pesticide that killed four children in Amrarillo, Texas sold by unlicensed dealer

January 3, 2017

Pesticide listed in highest and most toxic category by EPA

The Amarillo Fire Department announced an unlicensed dealer likely sold the deadly Aluminum phosphide pesticide responsible for the deaths of four-children in a mobile home. According to reports, a family member living at the residence applied water to the pesticide after laying the chemical down to kill rodents living under the home.

Unbeknownst to the residents, the combination of water and Aluminium phosphide creates Phosphine gas, an extremely toxic substance that kills with even minimal exposure. When emergency responders arrived at the scene, one-child had already succumbed to the toxic gas and three-others fell deathly ill.

Five other family members were hospitalized in the incident. The case highlights exactly why pesticides like these should only be in the hands of licensed professionals, trained how to properly utilize the volatile chemicals.

Who makes Aluminium phosphide?

Police believe the victim who applied the chemicals under the family home bought the Aluminium phosphide pesticide under the brand name Weevil-Cide produced by United Phosphorus, Inc. Usage guides on the company’s website clearly state the pesticide is strictly prohibited in single family homes and even states the dangers of mixing the chemical with water.

Typical applications for Aluminium phosphide include protecting dry food stores like grains, nuts, and certain processed foods. Exterminators use Weevil-Cide to kill insects, rodents, and other small vertebrate animals.

Who is licensed to use Weevil-Cide in Texas?

Warning manuals for the product issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specify Weevil-Cide (Aluminium phosphide) can only be purchased by Dealers and Certified Applicators. Certified Applicators in Texas must:

  • Have held a technician license for at least six months and been employed with duties including pest control services under the supervision of a licensed certified applicator for at least 12 of the last 24 months;
  • Have a degree in a biological science and furnish an official copy of their college transcript; or
  • Have 12 months verifiable technical field experience in the past 24 months from another occupation. The applicant must submit a signed and notarized statement from their previous employer detailing technical field experience as it relates to pest control.

Pesticide exposure lawsuits

While the investigation is still in the early stages, investigators may likely hold the business or person who sold the victim the Weevil-Cide responsible in some part for the children’s deaths. Additionally, the deceased children’s family may be able to hold the dealer responsible in a civil pesticide exposure lawsuit.

The person who sold the victim the pesticide likely knew or should have known the buyer was not Certified Applicator or had any experience with how to safely handle the chemicals. Under the law, parties selling potentially harmful products must take steps to mitigate potential safety hazards and ensure consumers are protected.

If you or a loved one were harmed by exposure to pesticide or other harmful chemicals, contact our office to discuss your pesticide exposure lawsuit.