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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chemical reaction

  Mat Bihi       Thursday, June 9, 2011
It's summertime - and the Hong Kong air is fuggy from clouds of pesticide sprayed to kill insects and weeds. But the easy availability of pesticides banned in other countries and the lack of a licensing system for pest control companies is raising concern over the safety of the industry, reports Simon Parry.
It was on a fine and breezy summer's day last year when Esther Houghton's 6-year-old son Sebastian had a painful firsthand experience of the potential side effects of the pesticides sprayed liberally around Hong Kong to control insects and weeds.
Sebastian's bed sheets had been hung out to dry in the garden of his home in Lantau when a neighbor treated a piece of open land with a powerful, unidentified chemical that in the space of minutes transformed a jumble of undergrowth to a wasteland of brittle brown deadness.
As he worked, clouds of pesticide blew onto the family's washing line and, unknown to Sebastian's mother, soaked into the bed sheets before she returned from a day out with her two sons, and made Sebastian's bed up with the freshly laundered sheets.
"Sebastian woke up the next morning with a terrible rash all over him. He was absolutely covered in welts," said Esther, a teacher who has lived all her life in Hong Kong. "He's never had any kind of skin reaction like that before and he was very itchy and uncomfortable. It was really quite frightening."....continue reading
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