The perils of poor pest control practices in the UAE

fmME reviews the role of sustainability in the UAE’s pest control sector, the legislation surrounding pesticides in the country, and the hazards of not adhering to industry-approved best practices

ANALYSIS, SPECIAL REPORTS, Facilities Management, Sectors

Earlier this year, it was reported that pest control chemicals used in a UAE household had led to the demise of a child in the home.

Local daily Khaleej Times reported that the child – who was under three years of age – had inhaled poisonous chemicals found in a pesticide used by an unlicensed Abu Dhabi firm.

The company, which had been contracted to provide cleaning and pest control services in the home, was found to be lacking appropriate permissions for the latter.

“Police investigated the matter after the medical report stated that the child died of fumes from bad chemicals, [and police] investigations suggested that the cause of death [...] was [...] chemical poisoning owing to pesticide usage in her home,” the report added.

Spotlight on legislation

The incident in Abu Dhabi reiterates the role played by legislation in ensuring pest control services are safely delivered. Consequently, pest control companies in the UAE are now working with greater diligence to ensure their operations have no negative impact on the end-user’s environment.

Speaking last December – during his participation in the 2016 fmME Power List – Mohammad Othman, managing director of Engineering Techniques Services (ETS), said the company would ramp up its sustainability spend in 2017.

ETS will deliver pest control and bird control services for Dubai Airports this year. The UAE, Oman, and Qatar are among ETS’s largest regional markets, Othman told fmME, adding that an expansion in the Sultanate is a significant opportunity for the company.

Remarking on the company’s sustainability and safety focus, Othman added: “Due to the nature of our business, our most important corporate social responsibility initiative is providing environment-friendly services. This includes the promotion of sustainable and bio-based pest management alternatives.”

Commenting on the pest control sector’s evolution, Louise McKay, general manager of Rentokil Initial, said as part of her 2016 fmME Power List nomination that sustainability would provide growth opportunities for the sector.

She added: “Integrated pest management (IPM) is our effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.

“IPM programmes use current and comprehensive information about the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment.

“This information, in combination with [standard] pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment,” Mackay continued.

Cash collection could be a challenge to overcome this year, she warned.

Currently, pest control companies operating in Abu Dhabi must be registered with the Centre for Waste Management (Tadweer) and the Department of Economic Development. Those in Sharjah, meanwhile, must be registered with the emirate’s municipality.

Over in Dubai, all pesticides used must comply with the Dubai Municipality’s technical and health and safety requirements.

The country’s Ministry of Environment and Water issued a resolution in 2016 that “prohibits the distribution of any pesticide without proper registration from the ministry”.

Khaleej Times reported: “According to the new resolution, banned pesticides cannot be registered or imported into the country, while companies are barred from using pesticides without the ministry’s approval.”

Global growth

A report titled Top 5 Vendors in the Pest Control Services Market from 2017 to 2021 by Technavio states that rising hygiene standards and merger and acquisition activity are increasing demand for pest control services in some global markets.

The report lists Anticimex, Ecolab, Rentokil Initial, Rollins, and Ambius as the global sector’s top five players.

It adds: “The entry of big vendors in emerging markets has increased awareness about the type and quality of services offered, resulting in demand from new customers.”

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