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Mushroom compost gas killed teenager

Frank Khan A SUMMER job helping to collect mushroom compost ended in tragedy for a young Lithuanian student when he died from hydrogen sulphide poisoning.

Justinas Gleiznys (14) arrived in Ireland in summer last year to join his mother who was living near Swanlinbar, Co Cavan.

The teenager was helping a local man collect the compost from a mushroom factory when was overcome by fumes and died.

At the inquest into his death in Cavan yesterday, the coroner Dr Mary Flanagan called on the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to highlight the dangers of naturally occurring poisonous gases to prevent another such tragedy happening.

Dr Flanagan heard that on the afternoon of August 8, Justinas was loading rotting compost from a mushroom factory onto the back of his lorry to be spread around farms in the area.

But the youth suddenly collapsed and died in the vehicle.

Witnesses said the day was very hot and there was a strong smell, like rotting eggs, coming from the waste.

Dr Deborah Condrell, who conducted the post mortem, said she found more than enough hydrogen sulphide in the body to kill the teenager and he had died from suffocation caused by the poisonous gas. The mushroom compost was also tested and found to contain hydrogen sulphide and that was the source of the gas.

Dr Flanagan returned a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking afterwards, the youth's mother Rosa Grundiene, speaking through an interpreter, said it had been "one of the happiest days of my life when he came to Ireland to see me."

But she added: "Three weeks later he was dead."

Last night the Health and Safety Authority said there appeared to be "serious issues" to be addressed in relation to the case.

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"What happened was a tragedy. We will have to take a serious look at what happened. That might mean looking at the process and systems on mushroom farms," a spokesman said.

What was "worrying" was that what happpened did so "in the open air and not in a sealed production unit or container."

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