Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the invisible killer because it is a colorless and odorless toxic gas that can kill since its victims aren’t aware of its presence. Unfortunately, a local tragedy underscores that it is not the only invisible killer that can lurk in your home and wreak havoc.
A four-year-old Layton girl died from exposure to phosphine after an exterminator placed chemical pellets in burrows outside her family home on Friday. Rebecca Toone passed away Saturday after developing serious difficulties breathing. Her parents and siblings were treated and released for what have been described as flu-like symptoms but shortly after their discharge, her 15 month old was readmitted to a local hospital. She is currently in critical condition at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Exposure to phosphine, which appears to have wafted into the Toone home from the burrows, can cause pain in the diaphragm, nausea, vomiting, smell of phosphorous on the breath and in severe cases, death. The extermination company that placed the phosphine at the Toone home, Bugman Lawn and Pest, Inc., has been cooperating with officials and the Toone family has issued a statement:
We are greatly saddened by the passing of our 4-year-old daughter, Rebecca Toone. Our 15-month-old daughter, Rachel, is being treated at Primary Children’s Hospital with serious complications related to symptoms similar to Rebecca’s. We love these girls and our two older children with all our hearts.
"We have been sustained by the love of our family, friends and neighbors, and by our faith and understanding of our purpose in this life and the world to come. While much is yet to be understood, we respectfully ask for the privacy to mourn our loss and see Rachel’s care and some measure of peace for ourselves and our children.
"We are sincerely grateful for the efforts of police, firefighters and health care professionals who have served our family with kindness and tenderness."
There are so many hazards in the world to be aware of, so many it is hard to keep track of them. But, as this tragic story highlights, if you have any type of pest control work done at your home or business, keep an eye out for signs of trouble and act quickly at the first sign of them.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.