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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 119

(Question No. 4964)


Mr Milton asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 27 November 1986:

(1) What were the findings of the National Health and Medical Research Council's investigation into the pesticide Chlordimeform which is used widely in the cotton industry and which has recently been linked to bladder cancer.

(2) Which States permit the use of this pesticide.

(3) What are the international safety requirements for the use of Chlordimeform.

(4) Is he able to say in which States these requirements are enforced and how they are enforced.

(5) What Federal Laws exist to ensure that chemicals and pesticides with identified health risks are withdrawn from the Australian market.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The National Health and Medical Research Council investigation into the pesticide Chlordimeform noted that West German health authorities consider that 4-chloro-o-toluidine, a metabolite of Chlordimeform, caused seven cases of bladder cancer in workers exposed to 4-chloro-o-toluidine but not to Chlordimeform.

(2) No Australian State currently permits the use of this pesticide.

(3) There are no specific international safety requirements for the use of Chlordimeform. However, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission does permit extremely low residue levels of Chlordimeform in edible cotton seed oil.

Safety requirements for users, such as protective clothing and closed-systems for mixing the chemical are normally recommended by those marketing Chlordimeform in each country. These recommendations may be endorsed by the regulatory authorities of individual States/Countries in the form of a Code of Practice and partially in legislation.

(4) The MRL (Maximum Residue Limit) for Chlordimeform in edible cotton seed oil recommended by the Codex Alimentarius is accepted and enforced by the States in their food legislation.

As no State permits the use of Chlordimeform there are no regulations or industry codes to enforce.

(5) There are no Federal laws to ensure that chemicals and pesticides with identified health risks are withdrawn from the Australian market. However, the National Health Act 1953 (Section 9 (1) (d)) enables the Commonwealth to provide advice to State health authorities. My Department is working closely with the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry in its current consideration of the feasibility of extending this advisory power of the Commonwealth to specific Federal legislation based on the Constitutional powers over Interstate Trade and Imports (51 (1)) and Corporations (51 (20)).