(NEW YORK) — Four members of a Delaware family fell ill and three remain in critical condition on Sunday after they were apparently exposed to pesticide during a vacation last month.
A Delaware family rented a property from March 14 to March 22. On the day they arrived on the island of St. John, the condo below the one they were staying in was apparently sprayed with methyl bromide in order to deal with an indoor bug.
Methyl bromide was banned for indoor residential use in 1984 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but is still on the market for agricultural use.
Judith Enck, Administrator for EPA’s New York office, said that the pesticide had been sprayed by Terminix workers.
By evening on the day the family checked in, all four began to have adverse reactions. Enck said that two teen boys suffered seizures and were brought to a hospital on the neighboring island of St. Thomas. Both boys and their father were placed on ventilators. The boys were later airlifted to a children’s hospital in Philadelphia, while their parents were taken to a hospital in Delaware. The boys and their father remain in critical condition.
The EPA has launched a “comprehensive investigation,” Enck said. “We’re looking at what happened here, which we consider an illegal application of methyl bromide.” The agency wants to find out whether the pesticide was used at other locations, and has already issued a pesticide warning in the Caribbean.
Sea Glass Vacations, the rental agency for the property, said that it was aware of the incident and would fully cooperate with investigating authorities. As far as the chemical spraying, however, Sea Glass directed questions to Terminix.
“First and foremost, the family is in our thoughts and prayers,” read a statement from Terminix spokesperson Pete Tosches. “We’re cooperating with authorities in their investigation, and we’re conducting our own thorough investigation in the matter.”
Tosches told ABC News that the company had halted all fumigation work in the Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Department of Justice has also launched an investigation into Terminix’s use of methyl bromide.
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