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Sheep Dip Pesticides under scrutiny by Chemical Watchdog

NRA 00/4 23 March 2000

The National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA) has released for public comment, a report from an Expert Panel asked to investigate the possible effects of organophosphate (OP) sheep dip chemicals on farm workers.

The investigation followed recent United Kingdom reports which found that, under conditions of use in England and Scotland, exposure to the concentrated form of the chemicals used by sheep dippers and handlers may result in occupational health and safety concerns.

In releasing the report, the NRA's Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Mr Greg Hooper said that the NRA was now seeking public comment on the Expert Panel's report before deciding if further action was necessary to ensure the use of OP sheep dips continued to be safe to users in Australia.

Mr Hooper said that the Expert Panel had not recommended that OP sheep dip chemicals be banned but had recommended that the NRA strengthen the warnings and other advice on labels and require the introduction of safer containers that reduced exposure to chemicals during the handling of the concentrated chemical by farm workers.

"We are now inviting public, chemical and wool industry comment that focuses on the issues identified in the Report including the recommendations for further action by the NRA", Mr Hooper said.

The report is available from the NRA and comments are being sought by 5 May, 2000.

Mr Hooper complimented the work of the Expert Panel which had been chaired by Professor Jock McLean, former Pro-Vice Chancellor at Melbourne's Swinburn University of Technology and said that the Expert Panel including experts from the Australian Workers Union, the Wool Industry and the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission had worked cooperatively to produce a scientifically based report as a basis for possible regulatory action following the consultation period.

Mr Hooper said "two chemicals discussed in the report, diazinon and chlorfenvinphos, are already under review in the NRA's Existing Chemicals Review Program and the Expert Panel's report would be taken into account in these reviews."