Testing, new study after lands inquiry
March 9, 2016,
Lands department workers who were exposed to dangerous chemicals decades ago are closer to an answer on sicknesses caused by their government work spraying pesticides.
The Courier understands the government has accepted and will act on the recommendation that another university study into the links between herbicide 2,4,5-T to soft tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma be commissioned.
The inquiry’s first recommendation, part of its report released in November 2015, followed The Courier’s investigation into the treatment of the workers for many years until the 1980s.
“Recommendation a): Updating the 1980’s Worker Health Study for the same group of sprayers (1951 to 1970) and comparing with the Victorian Cancer registry for evidence of causation or lack thereof,” the report said.
The full government response to the report will be released on Thursday.
Environment Minister Lisa Neville said it was a “really critical bit of work” and that the government had worked thoroughly through the report and its recommendations.
A 1982 study also commissioned by the government did not find a link between those two types of cancer and 2,4,5-T, but the new study would look again at the cases and test the sprayers still alive in Victoria.
The Courier identified 17 former Victorian Lands Department weed eradicators in the region who have died, mostly from illness including various cancers.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified TCDD, a contaminant of 2,4,5-T as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ since 1997 and ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ since 1982.
The new study, one of several major responses to be announced Thursday, would be completed by 2018.
The inquiry report found evidence workers in the region were exposed to more than double today’s standard tolerable intake of dangerous chemicals, which could be linked to cancer.
The report also found that despite reviews into worker’s health and chemical safety which were completed, findings and recommendations were rarely implemented.