Banned chemicals freely available in oz homes

Rules on risky chemicals out of step with world’s best practice.

A CHOICE investigation into the household chemicals used in everything from cockroach baits, head lice shampoo to mosquito zappers and coils has found many freely available in Australia are no longer registered for use in Europe.

The consumer group combed through the fine print of the EU’s ‘non-inclusion’ list for chemicals that are not approved for use in biocidal products such as pesticides because of safety concerns and lack of data.

It found eight commonly used chemicals including organophosphates, pyrethrins and carbamates can be found as popular products in supermarkets with active ingredients that are or will soon be no longer registered for use in the EU.

Some such as Chloropyrifos, widely used in ant killers and roach baits, have been banned in the US for domestic use since 2000 because of risks of exposure affecting child development.

CHOICE says pesticides currently registered in Australia still include substances known or suspected to cause cancer or neurological and reproductive problems either individually or as a combination of compounds.

The regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), has a review process but CHOICE says it can drag on for years while action is being taken to ban the same chemicals overseas.

Permethrin, for example, will be banned as an insect repellent in the EU from October this year but has only just made it onto a list for review by the authority.

“The Australian regulator’s permissive, wait-and-see approach to the regulation of these pesticides is behind the best practice as seen in Europe,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

“We want to see a precautionary principle applied and the burden of proof put on manufacturers and importers to show that a chemical is safe rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt.”

A key principal of the European legislation is “no data, no market” which means if the producers cannot provide the required toxicological assessments for chemicals they will not longer be registered. CHOICE wants a similar approach here.

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Hazardous pesticides freely available

Many chemicals available in Australia are no longer registered in Europe.

17 Jun 2011 | Cockroach baits, termite treatments, surface sprays and head lice treatments are some of the products containing ingredients that could seriously affect our health and that of our children.


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