The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is unapologetic in the face of criticism by Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) that it needs to speed up its approval of crop protection products.
Synthetic pyrethroids are insecticides found in some animal flea collars and animal health treatments, such as flystrike and lice control.
The EPA has called for information as it seeks more detail, from New Zealand households and commercial users, on how and where products containing these substances are being used.
“Synthetic pyrethroids are hazardous substances. They should be used with care and product label instructions strictly followed,” says EPA’s general manager hazardous substances group, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter.
“New information from international regulators in the US, Canada and the EU has identified certain risks to people and animals from the use of products containing synthetic pyrethroids. These warrant further investigation.”
She says these concerns are about risks to children from accidental exposure to flea collars and treated carpets, and about people reporting a burning or prickling sensation, known as paraesthesia, after coming into contact with synthetic pyrethroids.
“It is important to clarify that synthetic pyrethroids, and products that contain them, are not banned. The call for information signals the EPA’s first step in exploring whether a reassessment is necessary.
“The public, industry and manufacturers of the chemicals can support our call for information by completing a response form on our website which will help us build a more detailed picture about their use in NZ.
“We have also issued a caution notice which provides concerned members of the public with up-to-date guidance about the safe use of products that contain synthetic pyrethroids,” Thomson-Carter said.
“The call for information will close on February 1, 2019. Once this is completed, the EPA will use this information to determine the next steps.”