An entire Delaware family fell seriously ill while on a Caribbean vacation, and a dangerous chemical allegedly used at their hotel may be to blame.
In March, school administrator Steve Esmond, his wife Dr. Theresa Devine and their two teenage sons may have been exposed to the pesticide methyl bromide at the Sirenusa Resort on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a report on ABC station WPVI-TV.
The day the family arrived at their second floor condo, the apartment below them was sprayed with methyl bromide to “deal with an indoor bug,” according to Judith Enck, Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 Office, which covers the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The pesticide was applied during the day of March 19, Enck said, and by that night, the entire family “started having adverse health effects.” Both boys had seizures, according to Enck.
Paramedics responded and took the family to a hospital on neighboring island St. Thomas. The boys were then airlifted to a hospital in Philadelphia, Enck said, while the parents were airlifted to a hospital in Delaware.
According to the EPA, methyl bromide exposure can have short-term and long-term effects include severe lung injuries and neurological impairment.
The EPA banned methyl bromide for indoor residential use in 1984, Enck told ABC News today, but the product is still on the market for agricultural use.
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Steve Esmond and his sons remain in very critical condition, Enck said today, adding that Devine is not in critical condition.
Steve Esmond is the head of the middle school at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, Delaware, according to the school’s website. Theresa Devine is a dentist in Broomall, Pennsylvania, according to the company website.
“They’re just one of those families that everyone loves to be around,” Oliver Campbell, a peer of one of the boys, told WPVI-TV. “It’s just horrible.”
“It’s terrifying,” another peer, Carl Marvin, said to WPVI-TV. “It’s really scary to think that this could happen to somebody that you know.”
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SOURCE: EMILY SHAPIRO, Good Morning America