Kill Pests Not People

Tower Hamlets starts pest control scheme after girl’s death 

The untrained use of pest control products caused the death of an 11-year-old girl at a block of flats in Shadwell, according to Tower Hamlets Council. 

The authority has now launched a campaign to raise awareness for the dangers of pest control products after Fatiha Sabrin died at Nida House in December 2021. 

At the time of the incident, the Met Police said three others were taken to hospital and a number of people reported feeling unwell in the building, in Sutton Street. 

The council said the incident was caused by the use of professional pest control products by untrained residents. 

Girl dies and three people in hospital as chemicals found at block of flats 

The gas from these products can be poisonous and can also lead to explosions and fires, a spokesperson said. 

The council’s campaign, Kill Pests Not People, aims to make sure residents avoid buying pest control products from online marketplaces with multiple sellers, where they cannot be sure if the product is suitable for amateur use, and only purchase from reputable UK sellers. 

The council is urging all residents who may have a pest problem to speak to a professional pest control service first. 

This is echoed by a Tower Hamlets resident who is still suffering headaches, nausea and other symptoms, six months after using an insecticide to treat bedbugs, which she bought on eBay from Spain. 

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She has spent all her life savings trying to clean up toxic fumes from her home after the insecticide turned out to be fake. 

She said: “I sprayed it and then went to bed. 

“I was awake and on my phone, thank God for that otherwise I would have died. 

“My eye started itching badly. 

“I thought my contact lens had split when I had taken it out. 

“I called 111 and they said to go to hospital. 

“While I was on the phone my other eye and all the skin around my eyes started itching.  

“The air in my room had become toxic. 

“It was then I realised this must have been connected to the insecticide and I started panicking. 

“I was so scared and stressed about it spreading into other rooms in the house and affecting my family.” 

She explained that she breathed in so much toxic air that “the tiniest trace” of a chemical gives her a reaction. 

“This whole experience has badly affected my physical and mental health,” she added. 

“If I had a message for anyone considering buying pest control chemicals online it would be to avoid doing it yourself at all costs. 

“It is not safe. Leave it to the professionals who are the right people to sort it out.”  

Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Pest control products sold in the UK go through rigorous testing to make sure they’re safe for amateur use. 

“When people use pest control chemicals that are only meant for professional use or have been shipped in from outside of the UK, they can harm more than just pests.” 

Emma Fradgley 


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