(WASHINGTON) — The toxic chemical responsible for the hospitalization of three members of a vacationing Delaware family had been previously used at the Virgin Islands resort where the family was staying, federal officials said.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said the Esmond family of Wilmington, Delaware, was exposed to the pesticide methyl bromide, which is prohibited in residential settings. The family fell ill last week while staying at Sirenusa Condominium Resort in Cruz Bay, St. John.
“This was not the first time methyl bromide was used for an indoor residential application at this condo complex,” EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck told ABC News.
Authorities said the condo below the family’s was fumigated the day they arrived. By that night, Enck said, the entire family “started having adverse health effects.”
The EPA is now contacting employees and former resort vacationers, to see if additional people were exposed to the pesticide.
Three members of the family remain hospitalized, two in critical condition.
The EPA banned the use of methyl bromide indoors in the United States and 1984 because of its acute toxicity.
Terminix — the company that applied the pesticide — now faces a criminal investigation. Representatives for Terminix told ABC News that the company is investigating the situation and suspended fumigations in the Virgin Islands while they cooperate with authorities.
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