1080 poison use in New Zealand: Why we have badly let down two Reefton women caught in a toxic 1080 aerial dump.
I have just watched the Campbell Live programme. It contained a report on problems suffered by two Reefton women caught in the bush as 1080 poison rained from the sky last summer(NZ Herald).
1080 is highly toxic to mammals and insects. It disrupts our biology. in particular a complex process known as the Krebs cycle which releases energy to keep cells alive. Once 1080 molecules enter a cell they rapidly stop the Krebs cycle dead.
It follows that body organs with high energy needs, in particular the brain, heart and lungs are at risk. Exposure to 1080 could damage organs without being fatal. This is euphemistically referred to as a sublethal dose. You won’t drop dead on the spot but you may be damaged for the rest of your life. My concern with the situation reported is that inhalation of dust could have delivered a sub lethal but potentially harmful dose of 1080.
What about people who work in the 1080 industry? How are they protected from this highly toxic material as they formulate and deliver the deadly green pellets. They are protected by regulations which require them to take precautions.
Quoting from The Use of 1080 for pest control (July 2004 a discussion document) Procedures and Standard for use.
“Strict codes of practice require that appropriate protective protective clothing is worn by all those involved in the manufacture and handling of 1080.
“Under these procedures wearing protective equipment such as gloves and overalls is compulsory when handling 1080 in bulk. Respirators and eye protection are also required when handling 1080 in large quantities such as during aerial operations.”
Which brings me to why I think we have let sisters Gwen Gardner and Kathleen Bartlett from Reefton down. Great caution is required to ensure minimal contact with 1080. Dropping a bucket load on unsuspecting picnickers is an unforgivable error. If you can’t guarantee the absence of humans in the drop zone then you shouldn’t drop. Relying on a few inadequate signs is morally unacceptable and criminally negligent.
Proper research involves looking at both sides of the story. Unfortunately, the Campbell Live show you watched was only interested in one side of the story, the side that would get the most viewers. “Dropping a bucket load on unsuspecting picnickers” The two women were in an area that they shouldn’t have been in, it is not feasible to suspect that people are in every drop site, if they did suspect this they would never complete any operation. The signs and the notices the operators put out are regulation and this is what is required and what they do, as well as consulting with the land owners and offering public information days. Eventually people have to take personal responsibility to not go in an area with a sign that states a 1080 operation is underway. A 1080 bait contains 0.15% of 1080 poison. The dust would be so sparse, and in such low concentrations the women are extremely unlikely to have got sick from inhaling 1080 dust, there is too little of it, and the concentrations too low. The investigation was left with the local Medical Officer of Health and the outcome is between the two women and the MOH. Nothing has been made public as a result of that investigation. If they were sick as a result of 1080, regulations would swiftly be made tighter, and it would be public information.
Yes workers are required to be protected, they are dealing with a toxic poison after all, but never has any employee in a factory or on a 1080 site, ever been found ill from 1080. It is only a risk if you are right up close and touching it, or if you find some in the bush after a drop and eat it.
I urge you to look at some more information on the internet, other than this one story and get the full picture.
I also think the comment by ‘A student’ is inappropriate to follow such a post.
I don’t want to Live in a world poisoned by people.
Lilly Macintosh misses the point. This is a highly toxic poison banned in most of the world. There are no epidemiological studies on public or workers subjected to it – hence no one can claim it is ‘safe’.
Using this poison so indiscriminately from the air is highly irresponsible and NZ government should be held accountable.
Thanks for the comment. Haven’t done much on the blog for a while now and missed your comment. Couldn’t agree more.
We need to look after our environment. Thanks for your comment. Haven’t done much on the blog for a while.