Weedkiller puts Kiwis’ health at risk, but you won’t even know you’re using it

New Zealanders’ health is being put at risk by a chemical in commonly used weedkillers that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t even require companies to publicly disclose is in its compounds, the Green Party said today.

At least 89 herbicide and pesticide products in New Zealand, including products commonly found in many Kiwi garden sheds, contain polyoxyethylene tallow amine (POEA), which has been named in today’s Pesticide Action Network monograph as having serious health effects. The EU Commission has also recommended it be banned.

“Europe wants to ban POEA to protect people’s health, but here in New Zealand, the EPA don’t even require companies to tell consumers that it’s in their products,” says Green Party pesticides spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“The Government should immediately ban this toxic ingredient, which has the potential to damage human cells and create problems during pregnancy.

"The Government has refused to name which products contain this dangerous ingredient, claiming this information is commercially sensitive.

"The EU Commission looked at the science and decided POEA is too dangerous to be on the market. I would like to know why the National Government thinks it's not even worth telling New Zealanders that this dangerous ingredient is in products commonly found in many potting sheds and garages.

"The Green Party has been campaigning to stop glyphosate-based herbicides, many of which include POEA, being used in streets, parks and playgrounds.

"We have identified several safe and cost-effective alternatives for councils and contractors to use in weed management, such as hot water or foam, steam and mechanical methods.

"The Green Party is calling on the Government to do a full public reassessment of the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides, using published and independent science, rather than its recent narrow review using very selective and industry-driven science and analysis," said Mr Browning.

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