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Why do we still use Chloropicrin?


Today, when we are aware of the dangers of pollution and the overuse of chemicals in our environment, why are governments still allowing the use of extremely dangerous substances? The substance we’re addressing today is Chloropicrin, which is a highly toxic chemical used as a soil fumigant (pesticide), a warning agent with methyl bromide (another pesticide), and to kill unwanted animals, such as rabbits. This is a chemical that was used in chemical warfare in the First World War and causes respiratory problems and, if enough is breathed in, death. Chloropicrin is classified as a Dangerous Goods Class 6.1 Toxic Substance and Chloropicrin products are also classified as a Dangerous Poison.

This chemical is used in strawberry farming prior to planting. Not only does the proximity to the food I eat worry me, it is extremely dangerous for those who have to handle the substance. I am now wondering if I should let my kids eat non-organic strawberries as they seem to retain chemicals used in their production because we eat the skin (have you ever tried peeling a strawberry?). Unfortunately there is an even worse use of this toxic chemical – the control of rabbits and foxes.

It is true that rabbits and foxes, introduced species in Australia, damage our natural habitat and make life hard for our native species, however that does not give us the right to kill them inhumanely. Chloropicrin is used to fumigate their warrens. This is a cruel & inhumane way to die. If they don’t die straight away they can suffer for days with headache, nausea, irritated eyes and skin, diarrhea, laboured breathing, bleeding around the nose and mouth and painful irritation of mucous membranes. Our native animals also get caught up, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as geckos and small mammals use these burrows too.

Chloropicrin has been banned for use as a warren fumigant in the US and Europe but it is still used here in Australia and New Zealand. Overseas countries still use this chemical as a soil fumigant. I don’t know about you, but I would like to see this toxic chemical banned. With all our resources and technology, surely they can find better ways to deal with introduced species and bugs in the soil than this.

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What do you think?