Merced County authorities issued a public-safety warning Monday regarding a “dangerous cockroach powder” reportedly sold at a flea market in Los Banos.
The powder has been advertised in Spanish-language magazines, on social media platforms including Facebook, and on business cards that were left on doorsteps under the names of “El Mejor Remedio” or “El Mejor Polvo,” the Merced County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Prosecutors said the powder is believed to have been sold recently at the flea market at the Los Banos fairgrounds, according to prosecutors.
At least one person from Merced County has come forward saying an older relative has been sickened, possibly as a result of contact with the powder. Authorities are looking into those claims.
“Samples of the powder, which were seized by investigators, were tested and found to contain high levels of acephate,” according to a statement released by Bud Porter, a deputy district attorney in the Santa Clara County district attorney’s environmental protection unit.
“Acephate is absorbed by humans and animals when it is ingested, breathed in, or gets on the skin. Exposure can overstimulate the nervous system, causing nausea, shaking, dizziness, confusion, and – at very high exposures – severe effects on human health,” Santa Clara County prosecutors said in the news release.
A San Jose man, Julio Pino Reyes, has been arrested in connection with making, advertising and selling the powder, according to the Santa Clara County prosecutors.
Reyes, 45, was arraigned in late January on eight felony charges, including “falsely advertising the pesticide with labels that said it was nontoxic and safe for use around people and pets,” Santa Clara prosecutors said.
Authorities said the powder is not sold in stores and is not registered with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, which is required by law.
Any member of the public who has any of this powder should neither use it inside the home nor rely on any statements or lists of ingredients that may be on the label.
Anyone who purchased and/or used this product should keep it in a dry location and away from other materials, District Attorney Larry Morse II advised.
People who used the powder were advised to contact a fire department to evaluate the safety of their homes, authorities said. The powder should not be thrown away in a trash can or poured down a sink.
Anyone suffering pesticide-related symptoms was urged to seek medical attention.
Anyone with information that may help investigators locate possible victims who purchased the powder is urged to call the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Unit at 408-792-2794.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482
What to do
You can bring it to either of these locations at no charge: Highway 59 Landfill at 7040 N. State Highway 59, Merced, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays or to the Los Banos Spring Cleanup/Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 8 at the Los Banos Spring Fair Parking Lot.
If you have any additional questions, you may contact Jennifer Halpin with the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority at 209-723-4481, ext. 24.