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Secret spray ingredients released

Secret spray ingredients released

Community representatives concerned about the health effects of the controversial aerial spray campaign against the Painted Apple Moth, have today released details of the spray's secret ingredients.

Community Advisory Group members Hana Blackmore and Dr Meriel Watts say all attempts to get the ingredients revealed through official channels and complaints to the Office of the Ombudsmen have failed.

Government and Ministry officials have consistently refused to reveal the so-called ‘inert’ ingredients which make up 97% of the spray (Foray 48B) being used on 180,000 people in Auckland, Waitakere and North Shore Cities.

But Hana and Dr Watts who have both recently published reports on the health effects of the spray programme, say they cannot wait around for other legal challenges that may not succeed either.

"Everyone knows people are sick now. They have a right to know what they are being exposed to, and that is why we released the names of the ingredients to TV1’s Sunday programme".

Dr Meriel Watts said that some people have become very sensitive to the spray. "They are told that the chemicals are commonly found in food and cosmetics, but because they have not been told what those chemicals are, they cannot take action to avoid further exposure. We have simply provided those people with the means to look after their own health. It is completely unacceptable that the government has denied people this right, especially since they are the ones causing the health problem in the first place".

Like Dr Watts, Hana Blackmore has been battling since the 1996 Tussock Moth spraying to have the ingredients made publicly available. "The exposure levels now being experienced by people in West Auckland is quite without precedent anywhere in the world" she said. "There is no doubt in my mind that after 16 months of aerial spraying, some people have become severely sensitised to the spray." (1)

Meriel Watts, who is also spokeswoman for Pesticides Action Network Aotearoa NZ, said the list of ingredients had been legally obtained, and were actually identified from Ministry of Health papers released under the Official Information Act to the Stop Aerial Spraying Group (SAS).

"Our limited research into these ingredients shows that their hazard profiles are very similar to the health effects being reported in West Auckland." she said.

Hana Blackmore agrees, and said this information confirms the validity of the hundreds of health reports she has received from the community, and even answers some of the reported exposure effects that have been dismissed by authorities as 'nothing to do with the spray'.

"Now the spray information is out in the open, perhaps we can begin to see these people being taken seriously, and the true level of the exposure effects recognised."

Both she and Meriel consider it is ethically unacceptable for the Government to continue to take the line that is doesn't matter that only a small percentage of people are sick.

"Every person matters. Government says the community puts up with this acceptable level of spray effects 'for the good of the country'. But this is wrong. As Meriel has said, we all have individual rights, not just collective rights".

The secret ingredients identified in the spray are methyl paraben (methyl4-hydroxybenzoate), benzoic acid/sodium benzoate, propylene glycol, potassium sorbate, sorbitol, hydrochloric acid, and polyacrylic acid. The other ingredients – Btk, fermentation solids and water – are already publicly known.

“We have provided the food code numbers of those of the ingredients that are used in food so that sensitive people can read the labels and avoid them”, said Dr Watts. “People should also check labels of cosmetics”. (2)

Hana Blackmore also notes it is important that people know that by using inerts that have been registered as 'safe' for adding to food, the spray manufacturer actually avoids having to do extensive toxicity testing on the whole formulation. (3)

"This means there has been no testing of combined, additive or synergistic effects. For example in this spray, propylene glycol increases the activity of another ingredient methyl paraben. Inhalation effects - the most usual exposure route for people in West Auckland, has not been taken into account. As Meriel highlighted in her recent Report, (4) some chemicals are known to be much more toxic when inhaled than when ingested, and where inhalation had been tested on one of the ingredients, benzoic acid, no recognised safe level for inhalation was found."

Meriel and Hana caution that since February of this year the government has actually been using a slightly different formula of the Foray 48B spray and new chemicals are involved.

“Whilst the government has said it is not of concern, as the 'spray's hazard profile is the same', we believe the government should do the honourable thing and tell the people of Auckland what the new chemicals are. This way those who need to can avoid exposure to these additional ingredients as well”.

© Scoop Media

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