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ERMA Reviewing Two More Chemicals

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
ERMA Reviewing Two More Chemicals

19 February 2009 - The Environmental Risk Management Authority is calling for public submissions on the use of the herbicide methylarsinic acid and the insecticide azinphos methyl as part of its five-year programme to review hazardous substances.

ERMA New Zealand staff have compiled detailed information on the health and environmental risks associated with methylarsinic acid and azinphos methyl in the reassessment application documents for the two chemicals. These are now available on the organisation's website:

Members of the public and interested parties are now invited to make submissions.

Methylarsinic acid is used in New Zealand to control paspalum and kikuyu in fine turf.

Andrea Eng, ERMA's General Manager for Hazardous Substances, said the staff's preliminary recommendation was that existing approvals for methylarsinic acid be revoked. She said this was a precautionary approach based on the persistency of arsenic, its potential to accumulate in the environment, and to impact on human health.

Approval for its use has been withdrawn in the European Union and Canada and the United States is preparing to cancel re-registration of all arsenical pesticides. Overseas reviews and subsequent actions were based on concerns of increasing arsenic levels in soil and groundwater due to repeated use of methylarsinic acid.

Azinphos methyl is a broad-spectrum organo-phosphate insecticide used in New Zealand for controlling insects on crops such as strawberries, summerfruit and potatoes.

ERMA New Zealand staff's preliminary assessment is that the risks of azinphos methyl - to operators, re-entry workers, bystanders and the environment - outweigh the benefits of its use and need to be managed. It is recommending the approval for azinphos methyl be revoked, with a controlled, five-year phase out.

Its approval for use in the European Union has been withdrawn and Canada and the United States will phase it out by the end of 2012.

Ms Eng said though both applications included preliminary recommendations to revoke the approvals of these chemicals, this should not be considered as the final outcome of the reassessment.

"They form part of the information that will go to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to consider before making its decision. Information about the use of these chemicals, and their risks and benefits, will also come from submissions, which form an important part of the reassessment process,'' Ms Eng said.

The deadline for submissions on methylarsinic acid is 1 April 2009.

The Authority has extended the timeframe for submissions on the azinphos methyl application at the request of industry to allow it more time to prepare submissions. The closing date for submissions will be 15 May 2009.

Submissions can be made in writing, either by letter or email, or through the ERMA website. If submitters request it, public hearings may be held before any decision is made.

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