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Ministry receives report on PAM health effects

Ministry receives report on health effects associated with Painted Apple Moth spraying in West Auckland

The Ministry of Health has received the first summary of health concerns of people affected by the Painted Apple Moth Eradication Operation currently being conducted in areas of West Auckland by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The total number of people who have reported health concerns is 3290 with 1148 of those people assessed by a doctor in conjunction with the Painted Apple Moth support service. During this time, 619 people have been provided with practical support plans to assist in limiting their exposure to the spray. Most of the concerns relate to asthma, irritation from the spray of the eyes, nose, throat, headaches, and aggravating of pre-existing conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity, food allergy, skin conditions, respiratory tract, immune suppression and situational stress.

No new medical conditions were reported in this period, from 1 January to 31 May this year and no pre-existing conditions were reported to have been aggravated. These figures are based on the number of people who have been drawn to the attention of the Medical Officer of Health as suspected of meeting the criteria for notification of disease “arising out of chemical poisoning of the environment.”

There are two health related initiatives within the context of the Painted Apple Moth Eradication Operation, health monitoring and health support. Aer’Aqua Medical Services provides the Health Support Service for the Painted Apple Moth Eradication operation and the associated Health Monitoring Service. This report is generated from the Health Support part of the programme.

The Ministry of Health will continue to receive monthly reports on the effects of the spraying from the Ministry of Agriculture. The MoH has also commissioned an independent community consultation process to discuss and gauge health concerns relating to the Painted Apple Moth Spraying programme.

The eradication of the Painted Apple Moth (PAM) began in 1999 after the discovery in the Auckland suburb of Glendene and later Mount Wellington.

Eradication efforts have included ground surveys, insect trapping, aerial and ground spraying with insecticide, removal of infected and possible host plants. This work was originally conducted in a 900 hectare area of suburban Auckland encompassing some 4,410 households and was extended in October 2002 to include about 160,000 residents.

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