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Ten believed to be poisoned by pesticide have left hospital

DUBAI // Nearly all of the 10 men who were admitted to hospital this week with suspected pesticide poisoning have returned to work.

The men, who work in the same jewellery store in Deira and live together in a flat provided by their company, returned only a few days after suffering from dizziness and vomiting reportedly brought on by a neighbour's use of banned chemicals for fumigation.

The neighbours, who sources said were from China, were questioned by police but an investigation is continuing.

It was not clear if any charges had been filed.

The jewellery shop's manager said the men were all at home and doing well after the Wednesday morning scare.

The workers, all from Kerala, began to experience symptoms of poisoning about 3am. Many vomited and some fainted.

"Everyone is doing much better now," said T Soman, the manager. "Most of them only missed a day or day and a half of work."

Authorities initially suspected the men were suffering from food poisoning, but municipality officials have determined that chemical poisoning from banned pest control products are to blame for the bout of sickness.

In November 2009, the Ministry of Environment and Water banned 167 chemicals because they posed a danger to people and the environment.

Another 32 substances were allowed, but only for use by licensed operators.

According to the state news agency Wam, the list was updated last year to include 401 types of pesticides, in accordance with international practices.

Dinesh Ramachandran, technical director at National Pest Control, said only licensed and certified companies are permitted to use fumigants in Dubai, and the municipality must approve each professional.

"Fumigants should not be used in apartments at all," Mr Ramachandran said.

"This is an education issue. People have to know what to do before and after treatment."

Mr Ramachandran said residents should always ensure companies were registered before allowing them into their homes.

If using home products, residents should also make sure to read the label carefully.

"Controlling pests is really the job of experts," he said. "Sometimes people don't read, and that is when things can be dangerous."

The men are suspected to have been poisoned by aluminium phosphide, a highly toxic chemical pesticide that is used to kill insects and rodents.

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