Daily News Archive
October 3, 2006
Misapplication Blamed for Woman’s Death
(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2006) A year
after an Oregon woman died after re-entering her pesticide-treated home,
the responsible pest management company is being investigated. An EPA
affidavit says the chemicals used in her home were more than three times
the allowed concentration and alleges Eugene-based Swanson’s Pest
Management is liable for misapplying pesticides.
Florence Kolbeck died June 29, 2005, at 76-years-old shortly after returning
to her home with her husband, Fred Kolbeck. Mr. Kolbeck said his wife
immediately began choking and collapsed in his arms moments later. She
suffered atrial fibrillation, a heart condition.
Her intense coughing likely caused cardiac arrest possibly because of
heart arrhythmia, said Michael Heumann, state epidemiologist. Six other
people, including Mr. Kolbeck, neighbors and paramedics, also reported
difficulty breathing when they entered the house.
William Granstrom, the applicator in question, failed the test for his
general pesticide license seven times before spraying the house and
didn't pass the test until his ninth try -- two weeks after Florence
Kolbeck died, according to search warrant documents.
Granstrom used both pyrethrins and synthetic
pyrethroids in the Kolbeck’s home. State health investigators
believe synthetic pyrethroids caused Kolbeck's death, along with her
history of heart problems. Heumann, who has been reviewing statistics
for cases similar to Kolbeck's, cites that from 1998 to 2003, the latest
national data available, cases of people getting sick after exposure
to pyrethroid chemicals have risen steadily.
As well as exposing applicator negligence, the Kolbeck case has highlighted
the importance of limiting pesticide use, following labels and properly
ventilating areas when pesticides are used, and that certain people,
such as children and the elderly, need to be taken into account as they
are more vulnerable to such toxics.
ACTION: If you hire someone to provide pest management
for your home and/or workplace, ask what they use to control unwanted
species and request that they use non-toxic or least-toxic methods.
If you are looking for a service provider that uses non-toxic or least-toxic
methods, visit our Safety
Source directory. Beyond Pesticides is also receiving increasing
reports of unauthorized treatments – make sure your provider does
not perform unrequested treatments and report any such incidences to
your state’s attorney general.