'Extremely unwell' baby and toddler rushed to hospital after flat pest control treatment

Janelle Clarke poses for photos at Grand Heights in Slough
Janelle Clarke suffers with asthma and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so the incident has worried her -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

A baby and a toddler had to be rushed to hospital in 'serious conditions' after the council flat they've been housed in was treated with harsh pest control chemicals. Whether these chemicals caused the baby boy and his three-year-old sister to become so sick is under investigation.

The flat was treated for bed bugs by S&I Pest Control on Thursday, April 25, the manager of the flat block said. The family then moved back into the flat the next day on Friday, April 26. At about 4am on Saturday, April 27 an ambulance was called by the children's mum because they were "extremely unwell," South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) said. The mum herself had no symptoms of the same illness, SCAS said.

Another resident of block used by London councils as temporary accommodation, Katie - whose name has been changed to protect her identity - said: "I just couldn't believe something like this has happened to her children." Thames Valley Police officers conducted welfare checks at the tower block, named Grand Heights in Slough, and while a Redbridge Council spokesperson said they've been told the children's illness was not linked to the fumigation the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is "aware of the incident and making enquiries”.

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Grand Heights tower block in Slough
The children were taken ill in Grand Heights tower block in Slough after being placed there with their mum for temporary accommodation by Redbridge Council -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Redbridge Council put the family in the fourth-floor flat in Slough as temporary accommodation while housing officers search for a permanent home for them. The block is used as temporary accommodation by Redbridge and Tower Hamlets Councils for hundreds of families in similar situations and people under their housing duty.

Katie lives on the same floor as the flat that was treated. She said her son was terrified to hear about the incident after recently spending time in hospital after an asthma attack. She said: "Because of what has happened, my son was scared to even return home. We were away in London but we held off coming back because we were waiting for Redbridge to be clear about what was going on. My son's worst nightmare is to be in hospital again."

Katie poses for photos in her flat in Slough
Katie said her asthmatic son was scared to return home after hearing about the incident -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Janelle Clarke who lives on the ground floor said she also has asthma and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which restricts her breathing, so the incident gave her similar worries. She believes the lack of airflow in the building could have been the cause and said: "They spray the poison so it just evaporated and then you sleep and you inhale it. They were poisoned, they were vomiting and they could die."

Another resident who did not want to be named said: "Every minute my kid coughs I'm freaking out now. I didn't sleep last night because my daughter was coughing." Jaffar Habibi, a father and resident of Grand Heights said he was "shocked" to hear about the incident. Even so, he said he and his daughter are happy in the block where they have a more spacious flat than their previous placement.

Residents in the building can organise their flats to be fumigated by S&I Pest Control themselves as Grand Heights has a contract with them. The arrangement must be signed off by the building's manager Sarb Sanger beforehand, however.

Jaffar Habibi poses for photos in the Grand Heights tower in Slough
Jaffar Habibi and his daughter were shocked to hear about the incident -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Mr Sanger said: "We have a contract with the pest control company which is retained for all pest control on a monthly basis and the residents book their flats in accordingly if needed. From the management side of things, we just sign it off as a formality to keep a record. This is not the first time the pest company has done the same treatment in the same flat and we have used them for a number of years without any incident. They are fully licensed and used the same formula for a number of years.

"The flats are all brand new and the block went through a £20 million refurbishment and all tenants are the first ones in and have their own furniture and belongings . We the management, agent and owners have been cleared of any wrongdoing and there are investigations still going on as to why and what happened as our main concern is the welfare of all the residents in the block and do not want this happening again.

"I would like to add that there is a sense of a community here and we try to make it a warm and homely community and most of the residents love it in the block as it has a sense of safety and is brand new as mentioned.”

S&I Pest Control poster in Grand Heights
These pest control posters are put up all over Grand Heights tower block for residents to book in treatments with S&I Pest Control -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

S&I Pest Control also issued a statement about the incident following their treatment of the flat. A spokesperson said: "We are fully licenced and within 12 years of experience in pest and vermin services with no claims, investigations or complaints from clients, commercial premises or agencies.

"On that particular flat, there were two treatments carried out beforehand using the same formula, with no incidents, also there is an after care protocol which needs to be followed by any client after any pest control service and needs to be adhered to. In our activity, we have done all our best to reduce to a minimum all potential risks, and secondary effects of pest control services which we are licensed for.

"We have always explained in detail and explained the correct aftercare procedure. We don't want incidents to happen again, as our main concern is the welfare and safety of our clients and especially children, those vulnerable and everybody involved. This is an ongoing investigation as to what actually happened and if the aftercare procedure was followed."

Council wants to contact family to offer support

Redbridge Council which placed the family in the block also issued a comment. A spokesperson said, "The building was emptied ahead of fumigation, with residents requested to vacate for 24 hours.

"We understand that a family living in the building was hospitalised. However, the hospital has confirmed their illness was not linked to fumigation. Welfare checks have been completed by the police, who have confirmed no grounds for concern. The council will continue to try to make contact with the family to offer support."

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