1995 December: Qld Fruit Fly Treatment Poisoning Workers

Dec 1995: Yvonne Cunningham, an Innisfail resident, is very critical of the DPI and questions its claim that the chemicals used in dips to kill fruit flies have “low toxicity” and a “short residual life”. Accusing the DPI of “acting like cowboys” in the use and storage of these toxins, Cunningham told Green Left Weekly that workers in the quarantined area were being hospitalised for possible pesticide poisoning after vomiting blood. Forty workers have walked off the job in protest at the lack of protective clothing, ventilation and showers when working with the pesticides. The workers are also worried about applying pesticides with solvents such as xylene which can damage the eyes and lungs, she said. Cunningham also told Green Left that some unemployed workers have been recruited onto the fruit fly program having been told that they would lose their dole if they didn’t work in pesticide treatment.