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Simazine

14 January 2009

The continued registration of simazine products as algaecides in swimming pools in Australia has attracted media interest over the past week or so. Environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) has raised concerns about the potential of simazine to be an endocrine disruptor and to present a risk to children and pregnant women through accidental ingestion of pool water or absorption via the skin. FOE claims that the Environmental Protection Authority in the United States deregistered simazine for pool use in the United States in 1994 and argues that it should be similarly deregistered in Australia.

Simazine is a triazine herbicide and algaecide used in agriculture and in the home and garden. Simazine products are used for the control of a large variety of weed species in fruits, vegetables, lentils, vineyards, home garden and non-agricultural situations. They are also used to control algae in pools, aquariums and ponds.

The issues raised by FOE are not new. The APVMA has had concerns about potential environmental and human health impacts of the triazine herbicides, which include  simazine and atrazine, for some time. In early 2008 it concluded a review of atrazine which led to a tightening of controls. Contrary to some media reporting, simazine itself has been a candidate for review for some time. Further, in 2007 the APVMA initiated a project, based on ongoing research, to re-examine the possibility that the triazines (including simazine and atrazine) may have some previously unreported biological effects.

The project and associated assessment is evidence-based. If research outcomes point to new risks, the APVMA will consider appropriate regulatory measures. However at present, there is no clear evidence to justify raising  the current priority for the review of simazine.

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