Date of this Version
With the help of one of your expert operators I have selected eight pesticides which I understand are widely used in vertebrate pest control, and with one exception, pose substantial safety problems for operators. These pesticides are the anticoagulants, zinc phosphide, 1080, strychnine, thallium sulfate, anhydrous ammonia, carbon disulfide, and methyl bromide. Except for the anticoagulants, it would be hard to assemble a more lethal group of chemicals. I wonder if the talents of chemical research should not be brought into this picture more actively, so that less hazardous materials could be developed for vertebrate pest control. Perhaps the economic incentives do not stimulate in this direction. Nevertheless the vertebrate pest control operators have a reasonably good record as far as acute occupational poisoning is concerned. Either you are careful, lucky, or whatever health problems which may be occurring are not being recognized. One fortunate circumstance is that a good portion of the chemicals you use are not easily absorbed through the intact skin, a property which reduces the hazard to operators considerably. On the attached table is presented a summary of the properties and hazards of the eight chemicals together with information about the protection of the operator using them. Also attached is a list of safety rules for workers handling pesticides (to be discussed in the oral presentation.) Also I'd like to present some actual cases of poisoning or other harmful effects experienced by California workers to illustrate how operators may experience difficulties. Although none of these cases occurred to operators dealing with vertebrate pests they do concern the pesticides on our list.