I’ve just read an extraordinary “Health Risk Assessment” by a redacted Taranaki Public Health Officer for DoC’s aerial application of 1080 to public roads and huts on Mount Taranaki and Kaitake Range.
Its extraordinary firstly because the Health Officer is brutally honest about the toxicity and uncertainties of 1080 poison, admitting:
Acute toxicity– 1080 has a high acute toxicity to mammals and insects. it kills through impairing the critical metabolism of animals that leads to failure of the heart and central nervous system….
Chronic toxicity– little is known regarding the risks of long term adverse impacts on humans…. The heart, fetus and testes and consistently among the most sensitive parts of the body…
It is estimated that the oral dose sufficient to be fatal to most humans is 0.7mg/kg. young children are the most at-risk group…. A child weighing 15kg needs to ingest 10.5mg of 1080 to reach a minimum lethal dose. …A child weighing 15kg would need to ingest 1.2 pellets of cereal pellets to reach a minimum lethal dose...
1080 is a reproductive toxin and is teratogenic. However as there are no known studies of these effects in humans, data are extrapolated from animals studies…
Exposure.: The applicant proposes to aerially apply 1080 over the following huts and bivys but disconnect roof-fed water before the aerial application and clear the roof and guttering before connecting: Maketawa, Kahui, Syme, Waiaua Gorge, ….
The following umber of pellets would [exceed] MoH standards for 1080 in drinking water (2ug/l): One pellet
It is also extraordinary because having recognised the risk of death from just one bait for a 12 kg child, the author somehow goes on to conclude that “the health risk assessment shows there is very low health risk in the proposed application...” despite finding that “it is highly likely that a car driving on a road within the operation zone would see a large number of 1080 pellets if there were no buffer zones,” and “.. if roads were cleared immediately after aerial operation it is possible there might be missed baits lying in gravel on the side of the road” and despite finding “one pellet is close to a fatal dose for a 3 year old child…”
The author recommends no 1080 poison within 20m of huts and no aerial application of 1080 within 80m of listed huts except where terrain is very steep and inaccessible.. and where there is no exclusion, water supply be disconnected and roof and guttering be cleared before reconnection
I trained as a Health Protection Officer and worked for the then Department of Health before I studied law. I can sympathise to an extent, as we were inadequately trained about toxicology (we were taught its safe to drink a glass of Roundup) and we got no training at all on our duty to protect the public interest especially when it meant standing up to our employer. I still remember a directive from head office to my colleague that contaminated cooking oil should not be recalled because the toxin would evaporate off during cooking, and myself being instructed to retest imported mouldy nutmegs that failed specifications to try to get them to pass.
A single bait can kill a small child. Much less can cause sub-lethal harm. we also know from EPA reports that 1080 is mis-applied in approximately 1/3 of aerial poison spreading operations.
Despite the Crown’s extremely blasé approach to health and safety and the public interest I was also shocked to learn recently that Ospri simply posts notification in resident’s mailbox and silence is somehow treated as consent to poison their private land.
Something has gone badly wrong with our system. In their enthusiasm for helicopters and for the extermination of less preferred species, our decision-makers have lost a sense of the reality of the consequences of their actions. There is a legal term for that.