1991 May: Emerald Oval Pesticide Accident: Pesticide: 2,4-D

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On May 19, 1991 a council worker accidently mixed a 2,4-D amine concentrate 50/50 with diesel and applied it to boundaries of the local oval. The label stipulated 2.8 litres per hectare, so over 100 times the recommended dose was applied. The mixture was applied at 11 am on the Saturday and was still detectable by smell on the Wednesday, after 2 days of rain. No samples were taken for analysis. An adult supervising children on the oval reported a rash on a boy’s neck, a girl who became dizzy and an adult netball player who had an asthma attack. The council convened a meeting to discuss the incident and the health inspector said that there was no danger to anybody using the field. A Queensland Department of Primary Industry representative also reported a ‘no-risk’ finding after consultation with the NHMRC. He explained to Emerald residents that 2,4-D was not considered a serious hazard and that is not absorbed through the skin. This opinion is directly contradicted by information on another 2,4-D formulation, 2,4-D ester. The manufacturer’s 1992 Material Safety Data Sheet explained that ‘absorption through the skin is considered to be the major route whereby workers with 2,4-D ester are exposed. p103/4 Quick Poison Slow Poison. Pesticide Risk in the Lucky Country. Kate Short 1994.