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Malathion poisoning - husband's experience


Senior Member
Interestingly enough as I was wading through some of the older research materials, I came upon something that did happen to my husband one very hot and windy June day.

Rod had been out golfing in the a.m. with one of of our daughters and came home and had a cup of tea only. Like I said, it was really windy and he decided the crepe myrtles had to be sprayed that afternoon b/c of powdery mildew. Bear in mind this is a man who couldn't sit for longer than 5-10 min. tops. Anyway, as per usual, out he went and sprayed away, no protective clothing and the winds blowing everything right back in his face and elsewhere on his body. He then rushed into the house b/c we were meeting the other daughter and her boyfriend for an early dinner so they could go to a performance of something or other.

I was lying on the bed, it was after one of my surgeries, and he flew by aleady showered anddressed, came back and said to please get up that he thought he was having a heart attack. He was probably 50 or so then. I moved very fast, went to the phone and he laid on the bed. It was apparent that he was indeed having a heart attack. The firemen who first showed up, argued with me and I told them there was no doubt that's what it was. Finally the Parmedics came and confirmed that he was having an major coronary event. When we stood around the ambulance for about 25 min., I realized that he had arrested right then and there.

We suddenly loaded up and were on our way, only to find out that no cars would stop for us. Windows on, air conditioning going and radios playing. No one paid any attention. Fortunately, we're surrounded by hospitals and had our pick at that point. It was the day before Father's Day. Both girls were to have been out of town but, for whatever reasons, their trips had been cancelled. Neighbors crowded into the "special" waiting room" with us and ministers and priests arrived. We were grateful to have them there.

I was finally allowed to see him in the ER where he was covered with blood and it was very apparent that it hadn't been an easy route back for him. Anyway, to make a very long story shorter, he was placed in ICU and we were met with the transplant team and their little ice chests. I was ready to let him go, as he had arrested again, but wanted a neurologist to make the final call. My youngest daughter insisted that they get right on helping her father to survive instead of letting him go. I called everyone I could think of and was able to round up a good roster of doctors to see him immediately...Saturday's aren't the best days for this to happen in a hospital that is poorly staffed. Friends were in and out and some, who were doctors, gently told me what to expect. Well, I expected it yes and no, and I certainly wasn't giving up on Rod if my daughters weren't.
The entire night was a complete up and down....one minute he was dying, the next he'd inhaled.

He was in a coma for over 2 wks., and later went to a Rehab Hosp. My neurologist who had been out of town when this happened, saw him very early Monday a.m. and awakened me with the news that he really thought he had enough to work with. That did it right there....and apart from missing a few not very necessary brain cells, the man is fine and will be 76 this year. He does work out for 45 min. each day, never misses a day, goes 6 days/wk., and is very, very strong for his age. Personally, I think the family only should determine who and who doesn't get he last say in transplants. I see and agree with the necessity for them, but after this ordeal our thoughts on how it's done have changed.

Fast forward a no. of mos. I couldn't let this go. My father had died of a major MI at the tender age of 40 and Rod's father was 50. Therefore, a reason had to be found. The surgeons who went in expecting to do bypass or stents at the least, found there was no necessity for anything. So this left me with another question: What happened and why"? I'm nothing if not tenacious....and this was before the days of personal computers as we know them now. So, since I did so much of this anyway, I did it the old-fashioned ways....by letters and by phone. I never put the phone down unless I had another no. to phone and oddly enough, a pattern soon emerged. Universities played a large part in keeping the statistics but the people mainly affected were either home gardeners, or Hispanic gardeners. No one else seemed to play a role in it. As it turned out, it was Malthion Poisoning, and is used in the south for powderly mildew and many other landscape problems. It's horribly foul smelling stuff and it's a nerve agent. The doctors' who took it the most seriously (and they asked question after question) were the anesthestiologists. All had heard similar stories from other patients and Rod now wears a bracelet. it's organophosophate poisoning...more commonly known as nerve gas, yes that nerve gas, or one of them.

I don't know what your father's interest are/were but this is definitely something to consider. I've since read about it time after time and it's not too unknown. We had started a movement to stop the sale of it in TX, and I have no idea where it is today. It was gaining traction, but I had to drop out b/c of other commitments.
Just another avenue for you to wander down...if you haven't already. Oh, and this little nugget. By the next a.m. there must have been 30 cardiologists in the room. One asked me if he could have a minute of my time and proceeded to ask if Rod had been on Enzyme Co.Q-10. (Ubiquinol as you age). I confirm that he had and he told me he was convinced that was the only reason he survirved the attack. He had been placed on this by a Dr. of mine probably 2 yrs. prior, and I believe the brand was Carlson's. Today you hear about it all over but that wasn't the case then. I knew as soon as he asked, that he would be the Dr. I was going to ask to be Rod's new Dr. He's now retiring and we're on the search for a new one, but the younger ones know about Ubiquinol and recommend it for many patients. Times have certainly changed. I do try to have Dr.'s well versed on vitamins b/c too much; or too little can both be dangerous. It takes years and years of information in, information out to know what's going on. I feel that I've damaged myself somehow, in some way and I'll get to the bottom of it. I hope this helps you put your father's ordeal to bed....if not, some of the other "maybes" will. Often there are no easy answers, we just do our best. If your mother's still alive try to find out his gardening pastimes for your own self. It's amazing how popular the chemicals were and still are. One friend, a Dr. had a peach farm, and confided in his last mos. that he thought he had given himself a blood disease via one of the chemicals he commonly used...again without proper clothing. We can't be careful enough...and for heaven's sake, you men especially, read the package....please. We don't want to lose any of you. Yours, Lenora.
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Senior Member
Hello Valentinelynx......Yes, I vividly remember the Medfly Invasion and little did we know about how common these things were going to be. I'm not surprised they wanted to do aerial spraying of malathion (wonderful stuff that it is!), but there's enough info on it now to make one realize just how deadly it can be...especially in the wrong hands.

Today, on the other side of a major street dividing one part of the city from the other, West Nile Virus has become a killer each summer. The only way to control it is to spray the mosquitoes and kill them. Aerial spraying takes place and, to be honest, I don't even know what they use. However, I do know the West Nile Virus is a killer and we can't let it gain the upper hand. The Medfly Invasion resulted in crops that couldnt' be sold...a very different scenario. Of course it would have won the battle over many years, but hopefully research would have found a less toxic way of killing them. Or, as they first decided, send in sterile males. Really, how could someone at both ends make a mistake like that whopper?

Anyway, at the very least, I hope people really cover up and use proper ventilation masks before using malathion...it's a killer. Out of interest: When I was telling a friend about the "after" of Rod's story, she mentioned that had read a People magazine that wondered why so many Hollywood Stars, actors especially, keeled over in their gardens when nothing seemed to be amiss. My thoughts immediately went to what had occurred with Rod and I thought it was either what they were using, or the downdraft problem. I guess we're all at risk for it, but certainly the state governments can control the strengths of these products...why does a full strength product have to be used on a simple garden maintenance problem? Not that my husband wasn't also quite responsible for what happened, but when people from other countries, where heat is really bad, show up fully covered in heavy clothing, you should question why, and look within.

The papers here annouce when and where the West Nile Virus aerial spraying is going to be. Since it's very close to us, we make certain that we're tucked away inside. I guess that's it...giving plenty of warning over many types of media. Thanks, Valentine, it was interesting to read about something from our past. Yours, Lenora