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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Insecticide ban amid cancer fears
Wasps
Householders with wasp killer are being warned of a cancer risk
Shops have been ordered to clear their shelves of almost 50 brands of insect killer, amid fears they could cause cancer.

Acting on scientific advice the government said the insecticides, including top-selling lines from Boots, Superdrug and Vapona could be dangerous.

The decision makes it illegal to sell, advertise or supply any of the products concerned until further tests are completed.

Health officials stressed the withdrawal of products was a precautionary move pending the chemical tests.

'Careful consideration'

The 47 products banned include fly, moth, wasp and cockroach killers.

The decision was taken following advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP).

It said it could not rule out a link between a chemical called dichlorvos, which all the products contain, and cancer.

Dr Alan Whitehead, Health and Safety Minister, said: "This is a precautionary step, and one which has been taken in the light of careful consideration of independent scientific advice."

Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty said: "The suspension will last until such time as acceptable data regarding the mutagenic and carcinogenic potential of dichlorvos can be presented to the ACP."

The suspension has been delayed since August due to legal action from the manufacturers.

Scientific evidence

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said the courts agreed an injuction until a risk could be proved.

He said: "The risk is remote but there is scientific evidence which shows a significant risk and so our action is proportionate.

"If people have these insecticides at home our advice is they can finish using the product or throw it out in the usual way.

"What we don't want is people panicking that they have to get rid of it immediately."

Among the government's suspended products are:

  • Vapona Fly Small Space Fly Killer, Moth Killer and Fly and Wasp Killer Spray.
  • Boots Slow Release Fly Killer, and Moth Killer.
  • Superdrug Small Space Fly/Moth Strip, and Slow Release Fly Killer.

However, a spokeswoman for Sara Lee, the makers of Vapona, said: "The only products to contain dichlorvos in the Vapona range are Vapona Fly Killer Strips, Vapona Moth Killer Strips and Vapona Professional Cockroach Killer."

She said the company took the decision to discontinue these in October 2001.

"No other Vapona products (including the Wasp and Fly spray) contain dichlorvos," she added.

A full list can be found on the Health and Safety Executive's website, under press releases for April, which is accessed using the What's New index on the front page.

See also:

23 Jul 01 | oldBusiness
Fears of GM super-pests
12 Jul 01 | Health
DDT link to premature births
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