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Wednesday, 8 December 1976
Page: 3557

Mr Lloyd asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to the tragic death of thousands of animals in Michigan, U.S.A. allegedly caused by the accidental mixing of a fire retardant polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) with animal feedstuff.

(2)   Can he say whether the loss of animal life is still continuing, humans have been affected also, and the cause of the tragedy has been confirmed as PBB.

(3)   What precautions are being taken in Australia with this chemical to ensure a similar tragedy does not occur here.

Mr Hunt -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Loss of animal life is not continuing; animals with high residue levels are at present in quarantine. The cause of the problem which first arose in 1974 has been confirmed as being due to polybrominated biphenyl (PBB). Investigations have been carried out on persons who may have been exposed to this chemical through residues in food but no correlation has been established between exposure and illness. However, research is continuing under the auspices of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the United States of America.

(3)   The chemical is not used in animal husbandry. Evidence of the use of the compound for other purposes in Australia is lacking; however, it is understood that the Departments of Agriculture and the chemical industry are well aware of the incident hence the likelihood of a similar occurrence, should this chemical be used in this country, is remote.

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