Chemical regulator fails to protect Great Barrier Reef Toxic herbicide Diuron approved for continued use

Posted on 28 November 2012   |  
Hardy Reef, aerial view. Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
Hardy Reef, aerial view. Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF
After a review that has lasted almost a decade, Australia’s chemical regulator has allowed the continued use of the toxic and unmanageable herbicide Diuron.

This decision will result in the continued contamination of our freshwater systems and marine environments, and continue to put the health of Australians at risk.

While the APVMA has reduced the levels at which Diuron can be used, the latest science shows that even a 90 per cent reduction still results in Diuron run-off that far exceeds safe levels.

Diuron is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a ‘known or likely carcinogen’ and has been linked to coral bleaching and seagrass die-back on the Great Barrier Reef.

It represents 80 per cent of the herbicide pollution pressure on the reef and has been found in quantities up to 100 times the safe levels inside the World Heritage Area.

“The APVMA has again failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef. We call on the minister and the prime minister to intervene and give the APVMA stronger powers and an obligation to ban these dangerous chemicals,” said WWF spokesperson Nick Heath.

“What the evidence shows is that Diuron is so persistent and unmanageable that it is escaping paddocks and contaminating the Great Barrier Reef, despite efforts by those on the ground to do the right thing and control its use,” Mr Heath said.

“To give an indication of how toxic this stuff is, just one gram in four Olympic-sized swimming pools is enough to damage sea grass. And one of the most sensitive sea grasses is the preferred food source for turtle and dugongs.

“The only way to ensure that Australians are safe from this harmful chemical and to keep it out of the marine and freshwater environments is to take it off the shelves completely. Alternative products are already available right now.”

To view the report on Diuron click here.

Nick Heath, Freshwater Manager, WWF-Australia, 0418 885 324
Charlie Stevens, National Media Manager, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592


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