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Terminix pesticide company fined 10 million for spraying illegal toxic chemicals in U.S. Virgin Island homes


(NaturalNews) A Delaware family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2015 didn't return home with the usual memories typically associated with having an enjoyable time. Instead, they learned that they were a victim of illegal pesticide exposure after staying in a St. John resort room – for eight days – that had been sprayed with a toxic gas.

Steve Esmond, his wife Dr. Theresa Divine, and their two sons became ill just two days after a Terminix employee sprayed their room with methyl bromide, an odorless, highly poisonous gas that was banned for indoor use by the Environmental Protection Agency in (are you ready for this?) 1984.

The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands even noted that the family was in serious-to-critical condition and that the teenage children have permanent brain damage. So dire is the family's health situation that Pope Francis took a moment to bless them as he was on his way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, late last year.

Permanent brain damage and multiple violations later, company agrees to pay massive fines

As a result of the health horrors inflicted on this family, Terminix has been ordered to pay $10 million after the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency charged the company with several violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The majority of the agreement between Terminix and its U.S. Virgin Islands counterpart involves criminal fines; $8 million will be paid in that regard. The rest of the money will go towards a community service project in U.S. Virgin Islands ($1 million) while the remaining $1 million will be used by the EPA to handle costs associated with response and cleanup efforts.

Additionally, Terminix, which is on probation for three years as a result of their violations, has agreed to engage in civil proceedings to help the family with past and future medical expenses.

Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said that this family's experience demonstrates the "real consequences" of not abiding by a law designed to protect public health. "This incident illustrates how important it is for EPA to enforce environmental laws and hold anyone accountable for endangering our safety," she said. "Today's charges should send a clear message to the industry, and directs important funds toward training programs to help ensure this can't happen again."

Terminix has fully admitted to engaging in a fumigation treatment with methyl bromide in order to keep Powder Post Beetles at bay. The beetles are a problem that often affects the islands, and the odorless gas treatment supposedly keeps them away from unwanted areas. However, as previously mentioned, it's dangerous to humans – hence the 1984 ban and the family's unfortunate health reaction. It's beyond sad to think that the company knowingly overlooked this matter, continuing to spray rooms with a toxic substance that they were aware was illegal all along.

Natural methods can be used without creating health horrors

Methyl bromide is linked with causing a wide range of health problems from nervous system damage and brain hemorrhaging to paralysis and even death. Even skin exposure can lead to vomiting, blisters and death. The toxin is also associated with having a role in destroying the ozone layer.

As such, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), says there's another solution that is just as effective as methyl bromide, minus the associated health problems it's known to cause. They maintain that molasses, natural anaerobic soil disinfestation and chicken litter can keep weeds and pests away from crops. As such, they began working with growers in Florida years ago with the hope that this natural method will work satisfactorily.

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