Death brings discussion of safely handling household chemicals


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Experts are issuing a warning after, according to a landlord, a tenant died after he tried to address what he believed was a possible insect infestation.

The owner of a house on 10th Street just west of Tibbs Avenue says the man living there had come to him several times with complaints about bedbugs or fleas, but the owner never saw any of the insects. Whether they existed or not, things took a turn for the worse when the man living there tried to get rid of them.

“He put some of the highly concentrated poison on his face and rubbed it in because he was afraid that they were going to crawl up his nose and into his eyes,” the owner said. “So he put it on his face a few days ago, and he almost, didn’t really blister up, but it was real scabby on the side of his face.”

The man living at the house was found dead Tuesday morning after the owner says the man had again used a combination of chemicals to try and get rid of the bugs he’d been seeing.

But the homeowner told News 8 the Marion County Health Department never found any bugs.

“He must’ve felt that they were back again because he filled up the bathtub with water and chemicals and put all of his clothes and whatever into the tub to clean them, so I think it was all psychological, looks like it anyway,” the owner said.

The Marion County Health Department says it’s easy to get hurt removing pests when you use chemicals, so you need to know what you’re doing.

“From our perspective, we do get responses on occasion to unfortunate incidents where there’s been exposures from misuse of household chemical products,” said Kyle Fender, a hazardous materials specialist.

“It’s best to locate the bug and physically remove that bug before you try and apply a bunch of pesticides,” said Lawrence Lobdell, an environmental specialist. “And if you’re not sure, you can call the Marion County Public Health Department or call a professional and have them come out and get an opinion.”

And if you think you have pests, confirm it before starting any type of treatment.

“Gonna miss him,” the owner said. “He’s a good guy. He had some issues, but he was still a good guy.”

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is still investigating this case.

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