Granular permethrin on corn, Mirex in dog

A few years ago we received a claim for bodily injury from drift of granular permethrin applied to corn. A lawsuit had already been filed and a defense council appointed prior to our assignment of the investigation.

Our lawyer obtained permission for us to go on the property and talk to the claimants.
We flew commercial to the nearest airport, rented a car and proceeded to the claim site.

The claimants’ property was across the road from the treated corn, located so that the logical way to fly the field was to turn over the property. Much of the furniture had been moved out of the house and was under a plastic cover in the yard. Inside the house, a large window overlooked the corn from the second floor. We were told the window had been closed at the time, so we wondered how any of the permethrin could get inside. However, they produced a chemical analysis report showing the presence of permethrin, supposedly from inside the house.

They alleged several maladies, describing how these affected their physical condition, allegedly supported by a medical doctor. After listening to their allegations for quite some time, we took our leave and returned to the airport to await our flight home.

While waiting in the airport, I picked up an abandoned newspaper. On an inside page, there was a headline “Prominent Dermatologist Lambasts Associates for Continued Use of BHC for Scabies”. BHC is benzene hexachloride, in common use at that time as a general insecticide. The article went on to say that a completely safe replacement was available as a cream containing 5% permethrin. I took the newspaper home, checked Walmart and other pharmacies and found that this 5% permethrin cream for the treatment of scabies could be purchased without a prescription, Also, the last time I checked permethrin could be purchased in a pressurized container as an insect and tick repellent under the trade name “Repel Permanone”.

I sent the newspaper and my findings to our lawyer and soon I was notified that the lawsuit had been dismissed.

Around 1960, while I was working for the State Plant Board of Mississippi, the Mississippi Commissioner Agriculture, Jim Buck Ross, accrued funds to eradicate the Imported Fire Ant in Mississippi. (It was first named the Brazilian Fire Ant, but I suppose this is where political correctness started, because politics got the name changed to the Imported Fire Ant). For this purpose, the Commissioner chose perchlorodihomocubane under the trade name of Mirex. At that time, we were told the chemical was dissolved in soybean oil, then impregnated onto ground up corn cobs, so that it could be distributed like granular materials or seed.

The applications in most of the Mississippi Delta were made from the Greenville Municipal Airport. We set up a large tent to house the bags of Mirex and loaded the aircraft near the tent. Invariably, a bag would get broken and Mirex spilled on the ground. A large blue tick hound dog came up. He was “skin & bones” and it was hard to find a spot on his skin that was not sore with scabies.

The dog started to eat the spilled Mirex, I suppose because of the soybean oil. It did not appear to affect him and he continued to eat the spilled Mirex while we were working from there (about three months). The workers started giving him their lunch scraps. His condition improved markedly, including curing the scabies.

When we finished working from that location, the dog was no longer in poor condition and he had a beautiful, scabies free coat. He was a very beautiful blue tick hound. One of the workers took him home. Although the hound dog proved Mirex was a safe chemical, the “do-gooders” and environmentalists created such fear that Mirex applications were halted and never resumed.


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