Dozens of children are being poisoned by cockroach and ant killers.

New research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health has found that dozens of children are being poisoned within their own homes by common chemicals used to kill cockroaches and ants.

Analysing data from the National Poisons Hotline during 2014, researchers found that 40 per cent of all calls included in the study (364) related to cockroach baits or ant liquid and children. Most of the calls involved children one year old. Researchers did not include data on children under the age of one due to their developmental stage of crawling and putting all objects in their mouth.

Karin English from the University of Queensland says that the information calls for a national body responsible for looking after the environmental health of children and one which specifically monitors a child exposure to organophosphates.

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Organophosphates, while not found in every pest product, pose a serious risk to people and are even used in suicides due to the affect they can have on the human body. They are absorbed through breathing, eating and even through the skin in contact.

SafeWork NSW says that short term affects of the organophosphates includes headaches, excessive sweating, slurred speech and blurred vision. Longterm exposure is even more concerning and may result in overall weakness, behavioural complications such as anxiety and restlessness and can even affect the nervous system.

Researchers from the study singled out ‘Crawly Cruncher’ pest products as being a risk for young children due to their known organophosphate inclusions and the fact that the product is marketed towards use within the home.


Image: istock

Despite accounting for only three per cent of calls to the poisons hotline, Ms English says the Crawly Cruncher products are still concerning "If young children are able to access that and use it, they don't really need a very high amount of the chemical to have adverse health effects, It depends on the size of the child so the reason it's concerning for young kids is because they're quite small so the relative amount is less."

Experts are reminding parents to ensure they are using pest products sensibly and to keep chemicals out of reach of children. They are also advising parents to research which products are being used in the home and avoid organophosphates.

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