An individual is enjoying the usual daily work routine when fate
exposes him or her to an organophosphorus pesticide.
Chance has it that the victim has no idea where the chemical came from or what it was and probably does not realise the danger presented by the now contaminated clothes.
Victims may not feel any effects at first save the feeling that they may be developing a cold. They may be susceptible and succumb quickly or they may have a strong detoxification system and the effects may take up to a month to show.
Maybe within a few days the victim will suffer from severe headaches and shortness of breath. The breathlessness may be accompanied by diarrhoea and confusion. The throat will feel sore and the mucus in the throat may make its way to the lungs forcing the victim to cough repeatedly. This fluid will increase as the nose runs freely and adds to the liquid in the throat.
The headaches and sweating become unbearable and the effort of
breathing seems to cause the heart beat to be erratic as it pounds in
the chest. The victim is unable to sleep with the mind playing games
and the nightmares begin. Night or day the same repetitive thoughts
race through the head whenever the victim closes the eyes for rest.
The pains in the stomach and chest add to the headaches and discomfort
in the limbs and joints.
Eventually the symptoms become too much even for the toughest among us to take and the doctor is called.
By now the victim is too ill to know what day it is and the exposure is forgotten so the doctor treats the symptoms as he sees them with the normal antibiotics, painkillers and perhaps the odd steroid. If the breathing is particularly bad he may even prescribe some drugs to relieve the airways.
The first mistakes have been made.
Many of the drugs are contraindicated in poisoning and they only serve to make matters worse. This is the danger of treating symptoms without knowing the cause.
Had the medical profession been warned of the impending spraying operations as suggested by the authorities back in 1951 then the Doctor may have treated the case differently. As it is the symptoms become worse and the Doctor is fooled into thinking that his diagnosis was correct but the problem was more serious than first thought. The drugs are altered and increased and more dramatic measures are employed but these too serve to make things worse.
Heart problems cause the doctor some concern and so they stop some of the drugs and the victim is referred to a specialist who simply sees a potential repiratory disease and treats with more contraindicated drugs and steroids which cause more adverse reactions.
Meantime someone reminds the victim of the exposure and other similar incidents are remembered.
Could it be that a chemical commonly used could cause such problems?
The victim asks around and is told that such things would normally show up in standard blood tests which have all shown "normal" levels.
But the treatments offered bring no improvement. Extensive tests show no problems which could explain the ongoing heart arrythmias and breathlessness.
The victim discovers that the problems caused by the chemical are
known and that concerns had been expressed in high medical circles
with demands for more research.
The doctor asks the Poisons specialist what treatment is suggested but they need to test first. Blood and urine samples are sent and the victim is to be admitted for urgent tests with special concerns regarding the vision problems.
Already months have passed but the victim is instructed to report the incident to the Health & Safety Executive.
The perpetrator of the incident is employed by a powerful man with contacts in high places, including members of the legal profession. The HSE do not investigate.
The HSE threaten the victim with prosecution if the dangerous incident
is not officially reported and so the forms are obtained, completed,
and passed to the employer for signature and dispatch to the HSE.
The employer refuses to send the victim's report on the advice of his insurers and calls for new forms.
It is discovered that the incident was not reported as required in law which is another offence under the Health & Safety at Work Acts.
The HSE refuse to prosecute once more.
A year and a half after the incident the victim enters hospital for a raft of tests designed to diagnose OP poisoning. Two months later a muscle biopsy is carried out to detect any chemically induced changes.
Another three months pass and the Poisons Unit declare an inability to make a diagnosis save to say that the symptoms were consistent with poisoning.
Another two months pass by, two years since the incident, and the hospital confirms that the vision problems are caused by brain, optic nerve and autonomic nervous system damage, all known to be caused by exposure to OPs.
It is a matter of great importance that the victim has the visual fields checked regularly to ensure that there is no further deterioration but on return to the hospital the specialist is instructed not to do the proper tests and claims that no problem is found.
The victim asks for clarification but none is given.
Six months later and the hospital claims to have found more tests which could diagnose the condition but the victim's doctor realises that the Poisons Unit is simply using his patient for research purposes and refuses to allow the tests to proceed.
Meanwhile the doctor has found another specialist who has diagnosed OP poisoning as the cause of the ongoing problems.
Then the Poisons Unit writes that they have withdrawn their opinion that the victim had been poisoned which was something of a surprise since the same specialist had confirmed the diagnosis in another letter written on the same day. Six days later he again confirmed the diagnosis on official forms.
The victim requested copies of his medical records which is a legal
Several parcels of papers were received during a correspondence struggle lasting some years. Each parcel was accompanied by a letter claiming that the parcel contained the full records. Each statement was untrue as was proven by a letter hidden deep in the files.
Some 8 years after the incident the victim is still fighting for the legal entitlement to a copy of the records but the reason why is clear.
In the papers is evidence that the records have been falsified.
Blood test sample dates are impossible. Test procedures have been falsified. It is clear that entirely the wrong tests had been done and many of those that had been carried out are claimed to have provided insufficient sample for proper analysis.
Perhaps the most interesting is the blood testing procedure since it was known that the victim had been exposed to a commonly used organophosphate. The Poisons Unit kindly provided the code for the tests required for that chemical which involved both blood and urine sample testing.
Those essential and vitally important samples were not properly tested.
The bloods were tested for the presence of an organochlorine known to be present in the majority of the population. The victim had also used the chemical on numerous occasions and yet still no sign of it was found.
The urine sample was not tested.
Later the victim discovered that one of the Poisons Unit laboratories was funded by the manufacturer of the very OP insecticide involved and that at least one member of the Poisons Unit staff was employed by that same chemical company.
The victim has need to claim for State Aid in order to live and therefore has to make an application for benefits which have long recognised the adverse long-term health effects of the poison.
The Government refuses to recognise such cases because recognition
would lead to high compensation payouts from the State which licensed
The Government controls the benefit system and the doctors deny the claim.
The victim appeals and is re-examined by another benefit agency doctor who once more dismisses the claim supposedly after a fresh examination but in reality the reasons for denial are direct quotes from the first examiner's report.
Discovering this the victim appeals again and appears before a
The Tribunal is part of the Legal System and is run by the High Court.
Papers and evidence put before the Court must be accurate and legible
but the Government department refuses to provide full and legible
papers with much of the supporting documentation missing from the
The claim may have succeeded, in which case the Government would have appealed on the grounds that their own evidence was not complete, but a new Tribunal was called after the victim is forced to be examined by another doctor chosen by the system.
That doctor also had allegiances to Government funded organisations who are prepared to deny the existence of the problem and falsified the evidence in order to deny once more that the claimant was poisoned.
The victim appears before another Tribunal comprising of doctors
allied to the Government and the hospitals involved. They inform the
victim that they understand the problems faced and support his claim.
The victim is even more surprised then to find that the Tribunal members once again deny the claim but also falsify the record of proceedings and misrepresent the written opinions of specialists.
The victim is shocked to discover that the Tribunal chairman must
give his permission for the victim to take the case further.
That permission will be denied unless a recognised breach of the law
can be proven to have been committed.
Several such breaches are found.
Even if the appeal to the Commissioners succeeds the victim will find that once more the case is to be investigated by a Government funded body.
On the basis of this experience the victim is able to explain to others
exposed to the same, or similar, chemicals what will happen to them.
Each and every one experiences similar treatment by the same group of specialists and official agencies.
The question that must be asked is clear.
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