1978: Sale (Vic) Birth deformites after oval was sprayed. Pesticide: 2,4-D

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11/10/78

The Age

Birth row brings herbicides ban

Sale – Sale city council last night banned council use of all herbicides containing 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.

The council’s action – supported unanimously by its eight members – is the first such ban by any council in Victoria.

The decision followed a new disclosure that three Sale woman living near a sports oval had miscarried after the oval was sprayed with 2,4-D.

This brought to seven the number of miscarriages or abnormal births reported among mothers living near the oval.

Last week it was revealed in “The Age” that four mothers gave birth to children with major abnormalities after the oval, in Lion’s Park, was sprayed with 2,4-D in January 1977.

Three of the children died at birth. A fifth mother had a miscarriage three months after the spraying.

Councillor Lindsay Taylor told the council last night he had heard only recently of the three additional miscarriages.

The motion passed last night said the use of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T would be discontinued until the State Health Department “can prove beyond doubt that the herbicides have no link with congentital abnormalities”.

Sale council called on all other municipalities in Victoria, and the State and Fderal Governments, to consider similar action.

The mayor of Sale, Mr Peter Synan, said: “We are erring on the side of caution and that’s the side we should be erring on.”

The council also asked that the Department of Agriculture and an independent authority analyse the soil and broad-leaf weeds at Lions’Park and the Sale oval.

This was to find whether any substances were present which could prove harmful to people.

The council said it would ask the Health Department to investigate the incidence of birth defects in Sale, particularly in the Lion’s Park area.

It agreed to arrange a public meeting attended by Government and private doctors and scientists to discuss birth defects and their possible relationship to 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.

And it will ask the chairman of the Yarram birth defects inquiry and chairman of the State Government’s Poisons Advisory Committee, Dr Ern Aldred, to attend.