Phosphine Gas Poisoning Public Health Alert

Published on 11 February 2021

The Public Health Unit alert all to the possibility of potential gas poisoning from the use of poisoned wheat to control the current mice plague.

Homeowners and rural producers using it in their ceilings and within closed shed could potentially gas themselves. The poisonous gas given off by the poisoned wheat may not have an odour and is, therefore, undetectable.

The Public Health Unit advises that the release of the poisonous phosphine gas occurs when the poisoned wheat is exposed to moisture, either through water leaking onto it in roof cavities or in situations of very high humidity.

Exposure to even small amounts of phosphine can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness, cough, and chest tightness. More serious exposure can cause shock, convulsions, coma, irregular heartbeat, and liver and kidney damage. Generally, the more serious the exposure, the more severe the symptoms.

There is no antidote for phosphine poisoning, but its effects can be treated, and most exposed persons recover.
All local doctors have been alerted to the possibility of this type of poisoning. For further advice on phosphine poisoning, please contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.


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