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   DATE: 30 April 2002   AUTHOR: Editor
     
 

Dichlorvos Sale SuspendedHSE / DEFRA

As a precautionary measure, Ministers have suspended the sale of a range of agricultural, professional and domestic insecticide products containing the chemical dichlorvos.

Dichlorvos is used in some domestic pesticide products and certain parts of the horticultural industry. This decision will minimise the exposure of householders and those who work with pesticides from a remote but potentially significant risk to their health.

This decision has been taken by ministers following the advice of an independent expert scientific committee, the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP). In reaching it's decision, the ACP consulted members on the Committee on Mutagenicity (COM) and the Committee on Carcinogenicity, both of which report to the Government's Chief Medical Officer and the Chairman of the Food Standards Agency.

The ACP was concerned that it could not satisfactorily rule out the possibility that Dichlorvos is a genotoxic carcinogen (i.e. causes cancer by damaging D.N.A.).

ACP Chair, David Coggon said: "We have advised Ministers that there could be a small risk of adverse health effects following prolonged exposure to dichlorvos. They have therefore decided as a precautionary measure to suspend the sale of specified products containing dichlorvos with immediate effect."

This means that it will be illegal to advertise, sell or supply a range of insecticides containing dichlorvos. Retailers should remove all such products from their shelves immediately and may wish to contact their suppliers or local waste authority for details of how to dispose of them. It is not illegal to continue to store or use the products so long as this is done safely (for example, by following the instructions given on the product label).

Members of the public can continue to use dichlorvos products that they have already bought, and may dispose of used or unused products in household rubbish bins.

Dr Alan Whitehead, Minister for Health and Safety: "This is a reasonable precautionary step, and one which has been taken in the light of careful consideration of independent scientific advice."

The Lord Whitty, Minister for Food and Farming said: "I fully support this regulatory action which demonstrates the Governments commitment to vigorous safety-based pesticide controls in order to protect users of pesticides against potential risks to their health. The advice from the Advisory Committee o Pesticides is precautionary and indicated that any risk to users is remote. However, no suspended products containing dichlorvos will be allowed into the supply chain until and unless Ministers have the ACP's advice that this is acceptably safe. "

The suspension will last until such time as acceptable data regarding the mutagenic and carcinogenic potential of dichlorvos can be presented to the ACP.

The Health and Safety Executive acts on behalf of Ministers in issuing approvals for household and other non agricultural insecticides, and the department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Pesticides Safety Directorate issues approvals on behalf of ministers for agricultural insecticides.

Public Enquiries
For information on non agricultural products containing dichlorvos, call HSE's Biocides helpline on 0151 951 5825
For information on agricultural dichlorvos based products, call DEFRA helpline on 0845 050 4141

Further Information:
The minutes of the ACP meetings can be found on the websites of the Pesticides Safety Directorate of DEFRA:
http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/committees/acp/acp.htm
The statement and minuets of COM's consideration of dichlorvos are published on the Department of Health's website: http://wwww.doh.gov.uk/co.htm
Further information on the approval system for non agricultural pesticides can be found on the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/hthdir/noframes/bpau.htm

   
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