Pesticides poison 6,000 Canadians a year, report says (...not to speak of the thousands of poisoned animals!)
Received date: June 21, 2007

Pesticides poison 6,000 Canadians a year, report says
JOANNA SMITH
Globe and Mail Update
June 21, 2007 at 12:05 AM EDT
Pesticides poison more than 6,000 Canadians every year and almost half of them are children younger than 6, the David Suzuki Foundation says after reviewing poison control records across the country.
In a report to be released Thursday, the environmental non-profit organization calls on the federal government to create a national database to accurately record the number of poisonings.
The report focuses on cases of acute pesticide poisonings, in which a person develops symptoms ranging from watery eyes and skin rashes to seizures and respiratory failure immediately after exposure.
Compiling data from provincial and regional authorities, the report estimates an average of 6,090 people suffer from acute pesticide poisonings every year and that children under 6 account for an estimated 2,832 of those cases, or 46.5 per cent.
Unable to obtain data from Manitoba or the territories, the report based estimates for these regions on the results for the rest of Canada.
Information about the severity of symptoms or method of exposure was also unavailable.
“The first thing that surprised me was how hard it was to get this information,” the report's author, David Boyd, a professor and environmental lawyer, said Wednesday.
The report asks the federal government to revive Prod Tox, an online network that combined data from provincial and territorial poison control centres to track poisonings and analyze trends.
It was shelved in 2002 while still a pilot project started by a division of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Public health agency spokesman Alain Desroches said Thursday's report might spark discussion to resurrect the project.
The new and improved Pest Control Products Act, which came into force this April, requires pesticide manufacturers to report all poisoning incidents to Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
That information will be published on the agency's website as of next week, spokeswoman Edith Lachapelle said.
A voluntary reporting system for the general public is also being developed.
“I think the act is really good on paper but the jury's out on whether it's going to be adequately implemented right now,” Prof. Boyd said.
The report also asks the government to consider requiring pesticide products to come in childproof containers.
“I think anything we can do with respect to minimizing risks, certainly the agency is in favour of,” said Lindsay Hanson, a toxicologist with the pest management agency.
The report recommends banning the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes, holding Quebec's new Pesticide Management Code up as an example for other provinces.
It also praises 125 municipalities for passing anti-pesticide bylaws.
The report also recommends the federal government stop registering pesticide products whose active ingredients have been banned in other member nations of the Organization for Economic and Development for health or environmental concerns; increase funding to poison control centres; establish a national environmental health tracking system; and recognize citizens' right to a healthy environment.
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