1977 August: Garden Sprays Dangerous – Clayton (Vic)

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Garden Sprays Dangerous – worker claims

The Age Wednesday, August 3 1977.

A nurseryman who says he was forced to retire because of “dangerous pesticides” has called for stricter controls on garden chemicals.

Mr Robert Weeks, 32, said he was employed by a Clayton flower farm for four months.

During this time he suffered nausea, burning lips, and, on one occasion, bleeding in the mouth, he says.

Mr Weeks, of Regent Street, Springvale claims he was frequently sick because of daily exposure to flower spraying.

“The day before I was due to leave, I inhaled a poison pesticide which caused a severe cramp in my chest,” he said. “I could hardly breathe, I thought I was going to lose consciousness.”

Mr Weeks said other workers also complained that the sprays caused them illness, including nausea and vomiting.

He said workers had not been provided with breathing apparatus to cope with constant exposure to pesticides.

“The only protective clothing we received was for wet weather, but nothing to stop us breathing in the poisons,” he said.

“On the occasion when I had the severe cramp, we were working on sterilising, or killing the ground, for new plants.

“The man on the tractor had some breathing equipment like a World War 1 gas mask, but we did not have any.

First they sprayed the ground with a spray with a heavy odor which made my eyes sting terribly, and then they put the poison in…