Authorities have repeated warnings and offered clean-up help in the wake of recent suspected poisonings in western NSW from mouse bait not designed for use in homes.
Earlier this month, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) reported of "several recent poisonings" from a product containing zinc phosphide, which it said resulted in hospitalisations in Western NSW Local Health District.
The EPA has set up a removal program, and this week offered help to safely remove and dispose of the bait, which it reports has the potential to pose a serious risk to anyone who is exposed to it, but especially to children.
It is urging residents who have used agricultural bait containing zinc phosphide in domestic settings to contact its 24-hour environment line for advice and to register for free removal and disposal.
EPA regulatory operations executive director Carmen Dwyer said the EPA was aware residents may have used products not meant for domestic settings, or mouse baits without the original packaging and safe handling instructions.
"The EPA is concerned that these products may be inside homes and we want to ensure family members and pets are not at risk," she said.
"In some cases, the product may already have been eaten by mice but if there is any leftover product please ring the EPA for free support and advice.
"The EPA is offering to arrange a free service by a licensed pest technician to remove this mouse bait and clean the area to ensure your home is safe.
"We don't want residents disturbing bait if it has been placed in ceiling cavities.
"It is safer to leave it and ask for assistance, than disturb it."
Residents who have used a commercial mouse bait containing zinc phosphide in their homes will be helped by the @NSW_EPA to safely remove and dispose of it.— NSW EPA (@NSW_EPA) February 22, 2021
For details call the Enviro Line on 131 555.
More information: https://t.co/FgCJ8el1HWpic.twitter.com/TWUBLsR6QX
Ms Dwyer said it was critical to check baits were suitable before being used in the home.
"Please ensure you do not use commercial or agricultural products in a domestic setting,'' Ms Dwyer said.
"There are products that can be used in homes and it is important to ensure you are using the correct bait."
EPA staff will also be in Coonamble on Thursday to speak to the community about the issue.
When asked if Coonamble was the location of the suspected poisoning, an EPA spokesperson referred the Daily Liberal to NSW Health as the "best contact" for questions about the suspected poisonings.
"The EPA's message about not using zinc phosphide mouse baits in the home is relevant to all rural areas dealing with mice problems," the spokesperson said.
"If residents think they have used these zinc phosphide baits in the home we urge them to contact 131 555 to get advice."
A Western NSW LHD spokeswoman on Tuesday said there had been one hospitalisation across the WNSWLHD, but declined to identify the hospital the patient had been admitted to.
The person had since been discharged, she said.
Earlier this month Western NSW LHD Public Health Unit director Priscilla Stanley said "phosphine gas released from mouse baits containing zinc phosphide can be dangerous".
"It can cause suffocation in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces," she said.
"Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness".
Anyone suffering from symptoms is advised to contact Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.