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Contaminated School Lunch That Killed 23 In India Contained Pesticide Banned In Many Countries

“The pesticide that killed 23 Indian schoolchildren last week is a nerve poison banned by many countries because of what the [WHO] describes as its ‘high acute toxicity,'” Reuters reports. “As early as 2009, the United Nations health agency urged India to consider a ban on the pesticide monocrotophos — the substance said by a magistrate investigating the deaths to be the cause of the poisoning,” the news service writes. Reuters highlights “a detailed 2009 WHO report [.pdf] on the health risks of monocrotophos in India,” which notes “the countries and regions that have banned its use include Australia, Cambodia, China, the European Union, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.” The news service continues, “Yet in India, monocrotophos ‘is widely used and easily available,’ and is frequently linked to fatal poisoning, both accidental and intentional.” According to David Coggon, a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at Britain’s University of Southampton, “while a ban on monocrotophos would doubtless help reduce its risks in India, using it more safely could also help to reduce the threat,” Reuters adds (Winterbottom/Kelland, 7/22).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.