EPA restricts commercial dichlorvos insecticide use and revokes two domestic product approvals

New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has restricted the commercial use of dichlorvos and revoked approval for two substances available for domestic use. Approval has been retained for the active ingredient dichlorvos and three dichlorvos-containing substances, with significant restrictions. Those restrictions for commercial use will be phased in over the next five years. The first set of restrictions will come into effect on 15 March 2016. These restrictions include prohibiting aerial application and application in sensitive areas, and improved record keeping requirements. Dichlorvos is a volatile substance, which means that it evaporates easily at normal temperatures. It is a highly effective organophosphate insecticide that is used to control a wide range of insect pests across the agricultural, horticultural, biosecurity and public health industries, and in domestic/home settings. It is used to control insects on fruit, vegetables and flowers and in buildings or equipment with infestations. It is effective against a wide range of insects, including aphids, caterpillars, cockroaches, whiteflies, mites, bed bugs, weevils, silverfish and fleas. It has a short withholding period, which means that it is able to be applied shortly before harvest, as it evaporates quickly. Dichlorvos is extremely toxic and people can be exposed to it by breathing it in, skin absorption, or swallowing it. Depending on the level of exposure, it can cause moderate or severe short- or long-term illness, or can be fatal. It is very poisonous to aquatic life, birds and bees, and is slightly harmful to soil organisms. The Chief Executive of the EPA initiated a reassessment of dichlorvos because of concerns about the safety and well being of people and the environment arising from dichlorvos use. The decision on the reassessment was made an expert decision-making committee, who are part of the hazardous substances and new organisms sub-committee of the EPA board. “The committee’s decision strikes a balance between allowing the continued use of dichlorvos and its formulations for commercial plant protection and biosecurity purposes, and ensuring that the most serious effects of that use are appropriately avoided or managed. The committee acknowledged that dichlorvos is hazardous, but at present, the benefits of using dichlorvos outweigh the risks to New Zealand of its use, because there are no available alternatives,” said Applications and Assessment General Manager Sarah Gardner. The EPA invited submissions on the reassessment in October 2014, with 13 submissions received from individuals, community and iwi groups, manufacturers and horticultural industry groups. A hearing was held in May 2015, with the committee hearing submissions from 11 organisations and individuals. After considering all relevant information, the committee decided to retain approval for the active ingredient dichlorvos and the three dichlorvos containing substances used commercially. These have significant benefits to the primary production industry, and for biosecurity purposes. The committee’s view is that dichlorvos and its formulations have considerable benefits at a national and regional level. One of its key benefits is its volatility, which means it has a short withholding period. It also can be used on a broad range of insect pests. Although there are other substances available that can be used on some of the target pests, there are few alternatives with the same short withholding period that can be used for the same range of uses and applications. For some pests, there are no alternative substances available that can adequately replace dichlorvos. Where the use of dichlorvos is critical to the agricultural and biosecurity sectors, the committee has imposed additional rules on use to ensure the risks to people’s health (operators and bystanders) and to the environment are properly managed. These rules will be applied over the next five years. Initial restrictions include no aerial spraying, prohibition on application in sensitive areas, and additional record keeping requirements. These will be followed by other protection measures, such as buffer and exclusion zones, notification of neighbours and, in some circumstances, obtaining permission to allow dichlorvos use. The committee decided to revoke the two formulations available for home use, as these were not considered critical and there are safer alternatives available on the market. These substances are no longer approved for import or manufacture. The two products are BV2 Surface Insecticide aerosol and BV2 Surface Insecticide bulk. All stocks of these two dichlorvos-containing substances must be disposed of or exported by 15 March 2016. Home users who have a dichlorvos-containing insecticide should contact their district council to arrange safe disposal of the product. These products must not be used after 15 March 2016. However, the EPA supports the choice home users might make not to use these products again from today. The committee also reviewed the HSNO classifications for dichlorvos-containing formulations, taking into account data from international regulators and other authorities. The full details of the decision us available at: Read the decision.

NZ EPA, 24 September 2015 ;http://www.epa.govt.nz ;