Submission on application for the reassessment of chlorothalonil formulations

16 December 2016


Hazardous Substances

Environmental Protection Authority

Private Bag 63002

Wellington 6140


Submission on application for the reassessment of chlorothalonil formulations



  1. The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand Inc. (‘Soil & Health’) was incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 on 4 December 1942. Soil & Health’s objectives broadly include soil health and the promotion of organic gardening and farming. It has approximately 3000 members, chiefly composed of home gardeners and consumers, organic farmers and growers, secondary producers, retailers and restaurateurs. Its age and membership make it the oldest and largest representative organic organisation in New Zealand.


  1. Soil & Health is opposed to the use of harmful pesticides in Aotearoa New Zealand. As an organisation we advocate for farmers and growers to adopt natural, organic, non-harmful methods of pest and disease management. We believe that researchers, farmers and growers should be encouraged to develop and implement nonchemical alternatives to pesticides that foster soil microbial life instead of destroying it.


  1. Soil & Health is opposed to the use of fungicides containing chlorothalonil in New Zealand. A number of independent scientific studies have raised serious concerns about the effects that chlorothalonil has on human health and the environment.


  1. Soil & Health therefore strongly supports the EPA’s recommendation to revoke the approval of four (HSR000480, HSR000147, HSR000586, HSR100872) non-professional use chlorothalonil formulations and to dispose of the existing stocks of these formulations within the next 6 months. However Soil & Health considers that the fifth outstanding (HSR00618) non-professional use chlorothalonil formulation considered in the application should also have its approval revoked.

Detailed submissions

Adverse effects on humans

  1. We strongly agree with and support the EPA’s statement that “the high toxicity of chlorothalonil means that serious human health effects can develop from even small exposures to chlorothalonil.” Chlorothalonil is listed on the Pesticide Action Network International list of Highly Hazardous Pesticides for global phase out.[1] Chlorothalonil is a known carcinogen, mutagen and an environmental toxin and it is thought responsible for aggravating the health effects of other pesticides. The application itself points out that the hazard classification of the substances are all classified as suspected carcinogens while several are classified as acutely toxic by inhalation, corohesive to the eye and/or as suspected mutagens. The carcinogenic classification in the application is based on findings of kidney tumours in male rats and mice and in female rats following administration in long-term toxicity studies. In a study released by the US government health staff it was found that exposure to certain pesticides, chlorothalonil increased the risks 5.6 fold and 2.4 fold respectfully, of a blood disorder that can lead to multiple myeloma.[2]



Adverse effects on the environment

  1. According to the Environmental Health Criteria 183 of the International Programme on Chemical Safety chlorothalonil is considered by the World Health Organisation and to be highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates.


  1. In a study by the University of Florida it was found that chlorothalonil killed nearly every amphibian at the approximate expected environmental concen­trations to which humans are commonly exposed. The study concluded that future studies should be carried out that directly quantify the effects that chlorothalonil has on amphibian populations and human health.[3]


  1. In an article published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal ‘Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology’, it was stated that despite the low water solubility of chlorothalonil it has been detected in Australian waterways, and while chlorothalonil can be readily removed from the water column by binding to sediment or suspended solids in the water, the ecotoxicological data from the literature show that it is acutely toxic to nontarget organisms at concentrations much lower than reported environmental concentrations.[4]


  1. Research as shown that children are the most vulnerable, up to 108 times, to fatal aerosol effects of chlorothalonil. The home use of the product increases the risk of exposure to children and adolescents.

Adverse effects of Black Spot and Fungus Spray and Watkins Fungus and Mildew Spray (HSR00618)

  1. We consider that due to the harmful effects of McGregor’s Black Spot and Fungus Spray and Watkins Fungus and Mildew Spray, the approval for these substances should also be revoked. The hazard classifications that these products fall into are fatal, suspected human mutagen, toxic to human organs, skin sensitiser, and corrosive to the eye. They are also very toxic to the aquatic environment, persistent and harmful to soil and terrestrial vertebrates (6.1B, 6.3B, 6.5B, 6.6B, 6.9A, 8.3A, 9.1A, 9.2C, 9.3C).

Failure to meet requirements under HSNO Act

  1. Due to the adverse effects of chlorothalonil listed above, we consider that if the decision-making committee decides to reject the EPA’s recommendations and continues to allow the non-professional use of chlorothalonil formulations in New Zealand it would be failing to recognise and provide for the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems, as required to do under section 5(a) of the HSNO Act.


  1. Section 28 (2)(a) of the HSNO Act requires each application for approval to include the unequivocal on all the possible adverse effects on of the substance and its properties. We consider that this has not been met due to the EPA failing to identify the adjuvant properties of the McGregors and Watkins formulations, which increase the toxicity of pesticides.


  1. Section 28 (2) (b) requires that each application for approval include information on all the possible adverse effects of each substance. We consider that the EPA has also failed to meet this requirement as the EPA has not assessed the cumulative and synergistic effects of the two chemicals contained in the McGregor Watkins products, and whether they increase the hazardous rating, making this compound even more eco toxic than if applied singly.

Alternatives to chlorothalonil formulations and other toxic pesticides

  1. Conventional agriculture relies on pesticides to protect crops from pests and diseases, including synthetic herbicides to control weeds, and synthetic fertilisers to promote crop growth. Over time this heavy use of synthetic chemicals reduces the soil biota and the productive capacity of the soil, and creates increased resistance by pests to the chemicals used, as well as the resurgence of secondary pests. These chemicals are also dispersed in the environment, polluting waterways and damaging ecosystems.


  1. Numerous studies on the adverse impacts of pesticides and chemical fertilisers have raised awareness about the use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture, how effective they actually are in treating pests and diseases, and the impact they are having on human health as well as the wider environment. People are turning to more natural forms of pest and disease control that are more effective, sustainable and healthier in the long term.


  1. Organic agriculture has a holistic approach to pest and disease management that avoids the need for pesticides by instead focusing on building healthy fertile soil with abundant microbial life, fostering natural predators and using natural remedies. Truly well-nourished plants do not attract pests or provide a suitable conditions for pests and diseases to develop. Farmers and producers try to create healthy soil so that plants and animals can be healthy, and build up good natural defenses against pests and diseases. The long-term health of the soil is taken into consideration, rather than trying to deal with the immediate problem with synthetic sprays.


  1. The application itself points out that there are several alternatives for use in a home-setting available on the market in New Zealand. The application states that several fungicides with lower hazards are available, including horticultural oils, sulfur, and the biological fungicide (Bacillus Subtilis).


  1. We consider that even those fungicides currently available can easily be replaced by non-chemical biological controls that do not have an adverse effect on the environment. We therefore consider that chlorothalonil formulations do not provide any extra advantage.


  1. Due to the many adverse effects associated with the use of chlorothalonil formulations as well as the lack of convincing evidence of both its need and safety the Soil & Health Association consider that the decision-making committee should accept the recommendations of the EPA to take a precautionary approach as required under section 7 of the HSNO Act, and revoke the approval of four non-professional use chlorothalonil formulations (HSR000480, HSR000147, HSR000586, HSR100872) and to dispose of the existing stocks of these formulations within the next 6 months.


  1. We further request that the fifth (HSR00618) chlorothalonil formulation also have their approval withdrawn for any importation, storage, sale, copating, or dispersal, until international scientific evidence exonerates this fungicide from any linkage with human health impacts.


  1. Soil & Health wish to be in heard in support of our submission.


Yours sincerely


Name: Mischa Davis

Position: Policy Advisor


The Soil & Health Association

PO Box 340002


Auckland 0746

Phone: 06 8775534

Mobile: 0212667754




[1] PAN International List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides, Pesticides Action Network International 2011, p 15.

[2] American Society of Hematology Journal, June 2009 (2,3).

[3] The Fungicide Chlorothalonil Is Nonlinearly Associated with Corticosterone Levels, Immunity, and Mortality in Amphibians, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol 119, number 8, August 2011, p 1098.

[4] Assessing the Chronic Toxicity of Atrazine, Permethrin, and Chlorothalonil to the Cladoceran Ceriodaphnia cf. dubia in Laboratory and Natural River Water, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (2013) 64 p 420.

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