Why isn't this story of the tragic death of 11 year old Fatiha Sabrin in her London home, and the hospitalisation of her mother and other residents of the same building, following exposure to domestic rodenticides and insecticides, not invoking national outrage (for initial media reports, see here and here)? Whenever a child dies in a gun or knife related incident, or as a result of abuse, or air pollution, there is an expectation of national reckoning, including vigils and major media interest, but here, a child dies from exposure to biocides that despite being designed to kill, being widely promoted by pest control firms across the country, routinely normalised by being sold on household products aisles in every supermarket and DIY stores, and marketed as 'safe around children and pets', there is ZERO DEBATE, no reaction, no discussion, even on pesticide-free forums.
Amidst ongoing campaigns and litigation cases about the harmful environmental, biodiversity and human health impacts of outdoor glyphosate herbicide applications, why isn't there more concern about the widespread use of comparatively MUCH more toxic and environmentally persistent insecticides, whose half lives are increased exponentially in indoor contexts? We await news as to which precise chemical groups were involved but preliminary reports suggest they were related to cockroach infestations which raises the strong likelihood of carbamate-based poisons. This chemical group is notorious as a cholinesterase inhibitor belonging to the same category that included the notorious novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2020 (for related news see here), and earlier in 2018, Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
This is why we at Pesticide-Free Cambridge are focusing our campaign and related petition on the elimination of both herbicides and insecticides from our urban spaces and why we feel that the pesticide-free towns movement needs to urgently expand its current focus on plant-applied herbicides to the broader use of non-agricultural insecticides in both indoor and outdoor built environments .
Household and estates/facilities pesticides are frequently viewed as a necessary subset of everyday cleaning products. This misassumption urgently needs to be challenged. Pesticides have no place in our homes or anywhere else that humans beings live, work and play, if we are to avoid further tragic and senseless loss of life as seen here with the shocking death of this 11 year old girl in London, not to mention the numerous health problems implicated by acute and chronic exposure to domestic insecticides. These include not only cancers, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons disease, but also a range of chronic health problems including ME/CFS and 'Toxicant Induced loss of Tolerance' (TILT), whereby an acute or chronic pesticide injury can lead to hypersensitivities to low-level ambient pesticide levels that unfortunately are becoming so ubiquitous in our urban and agricultural environments.
This case illustrates how pesticide use/storage in one part of a shared building can impact on the building as a whole, whether as a result of the mechanics of inter-building ventilation systems, or by virtue of the sheer volatility of the chemicals involved and the ease by which cross-contamination of spaces far beyond the original site of application/storage can occur.
Please shout from the rooftops out about the need to get these poisons out of our environment for good. RIP #FatihaSabrin.
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[JS @ PFC]