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Man in good health died after inhaling insect spray; Fumes killed him as he tried to get rid of ants in kitchen.


A MAN died after breathing in fumes from an insect pesticide killer spray, an inquest heard yesterday.

Delivery driver Joseph Cummings, 49, from Aigburth, Liverpool, used the ``Raid'' aerosol on a nest of ants that invaded his kitchen.

Soon afterwards, he collapsed into his wife's arms and started to have a fit. He died later of a heart attack.

Yesterday, after hearing how Mr Cummings died, his widow called on the spray manufacturers to re-word its warning label so it stated the dangers to people with heart or breathing conditions.

An inquest in Liverpool heard how the grandfather had been in relatively good health since undergoing successful heart by-pass surgery in 1997.

On June 6 this year, he was moving a portable television set in the kitchen of his semi-detached home in Latrigg Road when he discovered an invasion of ants on the worktop.

Mr Cummings grabbed a can of Raid Fly and Wasp Killer, which contains butane, and aimed it at the creatures. The windows and doors in the kitchen were open.

His wife Janet Cummings, 50, told the hearing: ``I heard him shout and I went in to the kitchen to see what was wrong and he collapsed into my arms. He started to fit and he turned a purple colour. ''

Mr Cummings was resuscitated by paramedics at the scene, but died soon after arriving at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Raid, manufactured by SC Johnson, of Camberley, Surrey, is Britain's biggest-selling insecticide spray.

The ``Raid Fly and Wasp Killer'' can carries instructions saying: ``Keep all windows and doors closed for ten minutes after spraying''.

It adds: ``Do not breathe spray''. Consultant pathologist Dr Vijay Aachi told the court Mr Cummings had a history of heart disease and that made him vulnerable.

Adding that tests showed high levels of butane in his blood, Dr Aachi said: ``Mr Cummings would not have died at that time had he not inhaled the butane from the aerosol can.

``Butane was part of the primary cause of death.

``The purple colouring may have been caused by suffocation as a result of breathing in the spray. ''

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Liverpool Coroner Andre Rebello said it would be difficult to have a warning label that pointed out adverse effects to people's illnesses.

Mr Rebello added: ``The warning label covers everything you can imagine.

``If you were going to single-out particular illnesses then a whole series of conditions would also need to be listed and that would be impractical. ''

However, after the inquest, Mr Cummings' widow Janet said: ``The company need to think very carefully about the warnings on this label to stop other people losing loved ones.

``The danger to a human life is more important than plants or fish and I'd like to see the label changed to include the dangers to people with heart and breathing conditions.

``My husband was as healthy as he'd ever been after his heart surgery and this is such an awful waste of life.

``We'll be consulting our solicitor over what to do next. ''

Mrs Cummings has two sons Tony, 32, and Christopher 24, and one baby grandson James.

Last night SC Johnson, the makers of Raid, said: ``We extend our deepest sympathies for this unfortunate accident. The coroner's office today declared this an accidential death.

``Although mentioned, butane is a common household aerosol product propellant and these aerosol products can be used safely when the instruments for use are properly followed.

``This product and its product warnings meet the absolute highest legal standards. ''


Joseph Cummings's death was an accident
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 5, 2004
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