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Three More Hazardous Chemicals Up For Review

MEDIA RELEASE

10 SEPTEMBER 2008

Three More Hazardous Chemicals Up For Review

The Environmental Risk Management Authority has decided there are grounds to reassess the risks and benefits of the continued use of three more hazardous chemicals in New Zealand. The three chemicals being reassessed are part of a strategic hazardous substances review and reassessment programme, which aims to reduce risk to people and the environment. Under this five year programme, ERMA New Zealand has targeted for reassessment a priority list of 20 hazardous chemicals used in New Zealand. The list was selected after public consultation. It is a living list and may be changed or added to over the five years of the project. ERMA New Zealand's Hazardous Substances Reassessments Manager Mike Morris says the Environmental Risk Management Authority has given approval for the following three chemicals to be reassessed:

* trichlorfon, used as an insecticide and in veterinary uses;

* dichlorvos, used for control of crawling and flying insects in both agricultural and public health sectors; and

* methylarsinic acid, used for control of paspalum and other weeds in turf.

"What we will be doing now is gathering latest local and overseas information on the human health and environmental risks associated with these chemicals. We'll be looking at their current use in New Zealand, and whether alternatives exist. The reassessment will reconsider the adequacy of the safety precautions, or even whether the chemicals should still be used in New Zealand." Once the initial work is complete, the next step will be to put that information in the public domain and get feedback on it, he says.

"A really important part of these assessments is that the public will get the chance to participate in the review process when we call for submissions. We want to hear from people using these chemicals and everyone who can provide information on their use in New Zealand."

Public submissions are an essential element of the process and will feed into the collated information that goes forward to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to consider before making a decision on future use, Mike Morris says. If submitters request it, there could be public hearings before any decision is made.

The first substance on the priority list to have undergone a full review was the insecticide and fungicide pentachlorophenol (PCP). That review was relatively straightforward as the chemical was not in use in New Zealand, resulting in the existing approvals for PCP being revoked.

The insecticide endosulfan is currently being reassessed, and a reassessment of methyl bromide, used for fumigating logs and other goods for export, has begun. Work is also well advanced on the reviews of the insecticides methyl parathion and azinphos methyl.

Submissions will soon be called for on the review of methyl parathion.

ENDS

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