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EPA bans toxic fungicides to keep Kiwi gardeners safe

27 April 2017 

​The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a Red Alert notice following its decision to revoke four approvals for fungicide products used by Kiwi gardeners.  

A fifth approval has been retained but modified to include tighter controls on its use, confining it for use by trained and certified commercial operators in workplace settings only.

It is the first time the EPA has issued a Red Alert notice. CEO Allan Freeth says: “We have issued this Red Alert to raise public awareness of the dangers of using products containing chlorothalonil, a broad-spectrum pesticide used to control fungal leaf diseases in vegetables, ornamental crops and turf.

“Chlorothalonil is acutely toxic, especially if inhaled, and is classified as a suspected carcinogen. The European Union has banned its use in consumer products. The US and Canadian authorities are also concerned about the dangers it represents to domestic users.”

Dr Freeth initiated a reassessment of chlorothalonil based on his concerns over new evidence which came to light when the EPA considered a recent application for a fungicide containing the substance. It found there were unacceptable human health risks that could not be mitigated by imposing controls on its use in a domestic setting. 

“Given the serious effects chlorothalonil can have on human health and the environment, initiating a Red Alert is another way for us to help protect New Zealand and New Zealanders from chemicals that we have concerns about,” says Dr Freeth.

The decision to revoke the approvals means that the following products cannot be manufactured or imported into New Zealand after 11 May 2017. They will be banned from sale to anybody in New Zealand from 11 November 2017.  

These products include but are not limited to:

  • Yates Bravo

  • Yates Greenguard

  • Yates Guardall

  • Tui Disease Eliminator

The fifth approval includes, but is not limited to, the following products:

  • McGregor’s Black Spot and Fungus Spray

  • Watkins Fungus and Mildew Spray

  • Taratek 5F

This fifth approval has been retained and tighter controls added so that products can be used only by trained and certified commercial operators (ie they have been safety-trained in this specific class of chemical and have a certificate) in a workplace setting only. 

They will be relabelled and reclassified to reflect the new, tighter controls. From 11 November 2017 they will not be available for sale to anybody other than trained and certified commercial operators and only for use in workplace settings. 

 “These products are named in the decision document (DMC Decision Chlorothalonil), advises Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter, EPA’s General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms. 

“However, it is important to note that they do not make up an exhaustive list: they are only the products of which we are currently aware. There may be others being imported or manufactured in New Zealand under the approvals process.  If consumers are in doubt about whether a product contains chlorothalonil, they should check the product label or ask the supplier.”

“These measures will reduce Kiwi gardeners’ exposure to significant health risks,” says Dr Thomson-Carter. “Alternative fungicides are available with lower hazards, and we encourage their use.”

Domestic users and retailers looking to dispose of small quantities of these substances should ask their local authority for advice on hazardous waste disposal.

Ends

Red Alert Notice 

Chlorothalonil use banned outside of the workplace

This Red Alert has been issued following the EPA’s decision to:

Revoke four approvals for chlorothalonil-containing formulations used as home garden fungicides and available for sale to the general public

Retain a fifth approval for chlorothalonil-containing formulations but modify it to include tighter controls on its use, confining it for use by trained and certified commercial operators in workplace settings only.

Read the decision document here.​

Chlorothalonil is a broad spectrum, non-systemic pesticide commonly used as a fungicide to control fungal leaf diseases in vegetables, turf and ornamental crops.  It is acutely toxic (particularly if inhaled) and there are concerns over its potential to cause longer term adverse health effects in humans. It is classified as a suspected carcinogen to humans.

It is important to note that there is no exhaustive list of products currently being imported into New Zealand, or manufactured here under these four approvals. However, the EPA is aware of the following products which, in accordance with the EPA’s decision, can no longer be imported or manufactured in New Zealand after 11 May 2017. They will be banned from sale to anybody in New Zealand from 11 November 2017*:

  • Yates Bravo

  • Yates Greenguard

  • Yates Guardall 

  • Tui Disease Eliminator for Fruit & Veges

A fifth approval has been retained and tighter controls added so that products can be used only by trained and certified commercial operators (ie they have been safety-trained in this specific class of chemical and have a certificate) in a workplace setting only. This approval is known by the EPA to apply to the following products*:

  • McGregor’s Black Spot and Fungus Spray

  • Watkins Fungus and Mildew Spray

  • Taratek 5F

The effect of the decision relating to the fifth approval is:

  • Cannot be sold  to anybody other than trained and certified commercial operators, for use in workplace settings only, from 11 November 2017

  • Manufacturers and importers must re-label and revise classifications and controls as soon as practicable and by 6 April 2018 at the latest

  • Products supplied after 6 April 2018 must be labelled as set out in the new classifications and controls.

*These products are named in the decision document (see link above). It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list, only the products of which the EPA is currently aware. There may be other products being imported into or manufactured in New Zealand under the approvals.

If you are in doubt about whether a product contains chlorothalonil, you should check the product label or ask the supplier.

For Editors: Chlorothalonil FAQs

What is an EPA Red Alert?

It’s another way of raising public awareness about the dangers of certain hazardous substances. We want to do as much as we can to ensure Kiwis are aware of our concerns, and know what to do to keep themselves safe.

Why haven’t you issued one before?

This is a new approach and part of our ongoing efforts to ensure we are doing all we can to keep New Zealanders informed and aware.  

What authority does a Red Alert carry?

It’s a precautionary measure which we have introduced as part of our ongoing efforts to help keep New Zealand and New Zealanders safe.

Are you working on any other Red Alerts – what chemicals do they relate to and when will they be issued?

We intend to issue these alerts whenever we believe there is a need to raise public awareness about a hazardous substance. You can read more about our work with hazardous substances here.

When will the ban take effect?

Chlorothalonil-containing products currently for sale to the general public will not be allowed to be imported or manufactured in New Zealand after 11 May 2017. They will be banned from sale to anyone in New Zealand, except commercial operators, from 11 November 2017. If consumers are in doubt about whether a product contains chlorothalonil, they should check the product label or ask the supplier.  

Why haven’t you banned all chlorothalonil-containing products?

The EPA is banning those we know are currently available for sale to the general public. They will no longer be available for sale to anybody in New Zealand from 11 November 2017. We have set tighter controls around other chlorothalonil-containing products so that they can only be purchased and used by trained and certified commercial operators in workplace settings. Those controls also stipulate the use of personal protective clothing and equipment, and labelling and packaging requirements. Full details of the controls can be found in Appendix A of the decision document. 

Will the general public be able to access those chlorothalonil-containing products that have not been banned?

No. From 11 November 2017 those chlorothalonil-containing products in this category can only be sold and used by trained and certified commercial operators (ie they have been safety-trained in this specific class of chemical and have a certificate), for use in workplace settings only. Manufacturers and importers will need to re-label and revise classifications and controls as soon as practicable and by 6 April 2018 at the latest. Those available after 6 April 2018 will need to be labelled as set out in the new classifications and controls.

What should consumers do if they have chlorothalonil-containing products at home today?

Alternative fungicides are available with lower hazards, and we encourage their use. Consumers and retailers looking to dispose of small quantities of these substances should ask their local authority for advice on hazardous waste disposal. If consumers are unsure about the nature of the products they have on hand they should read the label, which will tell them if they contain chlorothalonil.

How dangerous is chlorothalonil?

Cholorothalonil is acutely toxic, especially if inhaled. The risk assessment showed there are unacceptable human health risks when it is used in a domestic setting. That is why it is being banned for home use. In workplace settings products containing cholorothalonil may only be used by trained and certified commercial operators, who are obliged to follow mandatory safety procedures. 

It is important to note that the use of any hazardous substance carries varying degrees of risk. The EPA’s role is to prevent or manage any adverse effects to human health and the environment. (As well, this information is always detailed on the product label.) We do this by setting controls around where, when, how and by whom those substances can be used. You can find out more about this process here.​

Who do you consult with before deciding to revoke a particular approval?

Our process is a public one, and we invite public submissions. Click here to find out more about our public submission process.


What we do: The EPA sets the rules for the use of hazardous substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 by assessing the environmental and economic risks and benefits to New Zealanders and the environment.


For further information:  

Michael Pearson

Senior Communications Advisor 

04 474 5456 or 021 966 085


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