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Health considerations aerial spraying in Hamilton

Media Release

9 October 2003

Report on health considerations of aerial spraying for Asian Gypsy Moth in Hamilton finds no issues of concern

A report to the Ministry of Health on the human health considerations of aerial spraying of insecticide Foray 48B for Asian Gypsy Moth in parts of Hamilton found that there were no grounds on which to prevent the programme from beginning today.

“The reviewers did not consider there was anything in the report or anything missing from the report that would lead them to advise that the start of aerial applications of Foray 48B over Hamilton and surrounds should be delayed,” Public Health Programmes manager Graeme Gillespie said.

The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Health in response to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s (MAF) announcement last month that they would be spraying parts of Hamilton in an effort to eradicate the moth.

“There is no new information which identified anything unexpected or unanticipated but before the report is finalised there is some work to be completed to tell us about specific estimates on effects to the Waikato population.”

The spray used, Foray 48B has previously been used in eradication programmes in parts of Auckland and overseas. The main ingredient is the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki (Btk).

The report compiles and summarises available information from a variety of sources on the human health issues related to the use of Btk- based sprays for aerial application in moth control operations and includes:
- Health risk assessments (HRAs) prepared for the Auckland regional public health service for the two aerial sprays in Auckland
- HRAs prepared for moth control programmes in North America and Europe
- Research information on the biology, ecology and human health effects of the Bacilllus thuringiensis organism
- Health surveillance and research information from New Zealand and elsewhere, including preliminary analysis of records from the painted apple moth health service in Auckland
- Reports and community feedback related to painted apple moth eradication programme
- Analysis of issues raised about the Btk spraying in New Zealand

The conclusion of peer reviewers of the report, which included toxicologists, epidemiologists and public health medicine specialists, was that they were satisfied there were no unexpected concerns or impacts reported.

The reviewers did not consider there was anything in the report or anything missing from the report that would lead them to advise that the start of aerial applications of Foray 48B over Hamilton and surrounds should be delayed.

“This review has given the Ministry of Health a timely opportunity to review the original Health Risk Assessments which were carried out in response to spraying in East and West Auckland and to extend some facets of the assessment in relation to community concerns,” Mr Gillespie said.

““We realise the imposition this programme will have on the general community and know that for some people there are some unpleasant short term effects from this spray. MAF have contracted an independent health service to assist those people in minimising the effects on their health.

Mr Gillespie said the Ministry would continue to monitor the health effects on the Hamilton community through monthly reports from the MAF-funded health service and membership on the Health Advisory Group chaired by David Collins QC.

“We will keep a close eye on this community and I want to reassure the public that if we find anything that causes us any concern we will take appropriate action,” Mr Gillespie said.

Following on from concerns from the West Auckland Community, the Ministry of Health has contracted the Wellington Medical School to receive written submissions from the public regarding their health concerns related to painted apple moth. This report will be submitted to the Director of Public Health later this year.

The Ministry has also called for tenders for the development of a health risk assessment for Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki (Btk) based insecticides that have been approved for use in New Zealand and may be used in aerial applications to eradicate insect pests.

The report: Human health considerations for the use of Btk-based insecticide Foray 48B for the control of Asian Gypsy Moth in Hamilton will be available on the Ministry of Health’s website: www.moh.govt.nz when it is completed.

ENDS

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