Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Minister Wades Into Sheepskin Toxic Gas Debate

Minister Wades Into Debate Over Sheepskins Toxic Gas

T James Sprott OBE 10 Combes Road
MSc PhD FNZIC Remuera
Consulting Chemist Auckland 5
Forensic Scientist NEW ZEALAND

Phone & fax:
64-9-5231150
sprott@iconz.co.nz

16 September 2000


MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER OF HEALTH WADES INTO DEBATE OVER
TOXIC GAS GENERATION FROM SHEEPSKINS

* * * * * * *

Dr Jim Sprott has described as "misleading" a statement made by Minister of Health, Annette King, in answer to a Parliamentary question about risks posed to babies by sheepskins.

Responding to a question by ACT MP Rodney Hide, Mrs King described research presented by Dr W R Cullen at the SIDS 2000 Conference as "attempts to generate certain gases from sheepskins under laboratory conditions".

"Mrs King should get the facts," said Dr Sprott. "Dr Cullen is a world expert in the chemistry of arsine gases, and he proved conclusively the generation of trimethylarsine gas from New Zealand sheepskins used as baby bedding." (SEE EXTRACT FROM DR CULLEN'S PAPER, "MICROBIAL STUDIES OF SHEEPSKIN BEDDING", FOLLOWING THIS MEDIA RELEASE.)

Arsines are among the most toxic gases. In the late 19th century it was proved that a form of arsine generated by fungus in the household environment had caused the deaths of a large number of children.

"Chemical analyses carried out in 1996 showed that New Zealand sheepskins can contain arsenic," said Dr Sprott. "And now a highly qualified researcher has proved that common household fungus can generate arsenical gas from New Zealand sheepskins."

Dr Sprott said that the Ministry of Health had a clear responsi- bility to tell New Zealand parents that highly toxic gas can be generated from sheepskins used as baby bedding.

"The Ministry of Health was a sponsor of the SIDS 2000 Confer- ence," said Dr Sprott. "What's the point of the Ministry spending taxpayers' money on scientific conferences, if it then ignores crucial research reported at such conferences?"

* * * * * * *

Following is an extract from the paper by Dr W R Cullen titled "Microbial Studies of Sheepskin Bedding" which was presented at the SIDS 2000 Conference in Auckland on 11 February 2000. The presentation was attended by Dr P G Tuohy, Chief Advisor for Child & Youth Health, Ministry of Health.

"Sheep skin studies.

Samples of four sheepskins were supplied [from New Zealand]. Two of the skins were new, a healthy infant slept on the third, and an infant died of SIDS whilst sleeping on the fourth... [The fungus] S brevicaulis grows very easily on the skins when samples are placed in a suitable growth medium and inoculated with the fungus. Such cultures slowly produce trimethylarsine... S brevi- caulis can grow [on] sheepskin with the release of trimethylarsine."

Following is a statement contained in a report by environmental scientist, Dr M G Fitzpatrick, to the New Zealand Cot Death Association in December 1997:

"[A]rsines... are generally considered among the most toxic and deadly compounds known to humanity."


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

New Reports: Flood Risk From Rain And Sea Under Climate Change

One report looks at what would happen when rivers are flooded by heavy rain and storms, while the other examines flooding exposure in coastal and harbour areas and how that might change with sea-level rise.

Their findings show that across the country almost 700,000 people and 411,516 buildings worth $135 billion are presently exposed to river flooding in the event of extreme weather events...

There is near certainty that the sea will rise 20-30 cm by 2040. By the end of the century, depending on whether global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it could rise by between 0.5 to 1.1 m, which could add an additional 116,000 people exposed to extreme coastal storm flooding. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>

ALSO:

Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>

ALSO:

Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>

ALSO:

Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>

ALSO:

Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>

ALSO:

Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>

ALSO:

School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>

ALSO:

Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels