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Media Release - Use of Popular Insecticide to Continue

NRA 01/5 18 July 2001

Aldicarb insecticide products will continue to be available following an extensive review of the health, safety and environmental aspects of the chemical by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA). Aldicarb is an insecticide widely used in the cotton industry and to a lesser extent in citrus and sugarcane production. It has been in use in Australia for over 20 years.

The review was conducted by the NRA as part of its ongoing program of review of agricultural and veterinary chemicals that have been used in Australia over many years to ensure they meet today's registration standards.

The review looked at agricultural worker health and potential adverse environmental effects. The risk of human poisonings received major focus and followed concerns raised in the US, which linked these effects with aldicarb use, according to Dr Ron Eichner, Manager, Chemical Review.

'The review found that aldicarb, which in Australia is applied in granular form, beneath the soil surface posed little threat to worker safety, particularly as it is packaged in closed containers and is dispersed without the need for hand application, virtually eliminating worker exposure,' Dr Eichner said.

'In the US, adverse environmental effects, including water contamination from chemical run off, were linked to aldicarb use in some circumstances.'

'The NRA review however, did not identify any adverse environmental effects from aldicarb use. Essentially, this can be attributed to Australia's use conditions, which vary from the US. Also, there have been no reported cases of human poisonings,' Dr Eichner said.

According to Dr Eichner, 'after considering all the issues the NRA has decided to confirm the registration status of Aldicarb, but with strengthened environmental and occupational health and safety warnings on product labels.'

'The potential does exist for some environmental damage if aldicarb use in citrus production was to increase substantially. Therefore, over the next three years, the use of aldicarb in citrus production will be monitored to ensure that environmental standards are maintained,' Dr Eichner said.

Dr Eichner also noted that if further concerns resulted from the continued use of aldicarb then the NRA could initiate a new review.

The NRA's chemical review program is a long term, systematic and detailed assessment of older chemicals in use in Australian agriculture to ensure that they meet today's efficacy, health, safety and environmental standards.

The Aldicarb Review Report and a summary document can be found on this website.
A hardcopy of the Review Report can be purchased for $100. To obtain copies of these documents contact Chemical Review by phone on 02 6272 3213, fax 02 6272 3551 or by writing to the NRA at PO Box E240, Kingston, ACT, 2604.

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