Poison canister warning
Since February 2012, emergency services have received reports from the public of small unlabelled canisters washing up along the coast in the Torres Strait, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. In the last few months reports have been received of canisters washing up in the Western Cape York region and in Yeppoon in Central Queensland.
The canisters contain a rat poison known as ‘aluminium phosphide’, a white to grey solid which is hazardous to humans.
When the canister is opened, the powder reacts with moisture in the air to release phosphine gas, which is also highly toxic to humans.
The gas has a strong odour that can smell like garlic, rotting fish or urine, but it can quickly dull the sense of smell.
Exposure can cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, dizziness, tightness of the chest, diarrhoea, fluid in the lungs, liver/kidney damage, and in severe cases death.