Department warns about unlabelled pesticides

Professor Hanna-Andrea Rother from the Environmental Health Division at UCT, is worried about the dangers posed by unlabelled pesticides and other drugs.

The provincial Department of Environmental Health and the University of Cape Town joined hands to warn people against the use and purchase of illegal pesticides.

The deadly pesticides are a common sight on trains and pavements, and are used in many households. However, according to government and a group of researchers from UCT, there should be more stringent measures to control and monitor their usage.

Addressing a group of hawkers at Nonkqubela train station, on Wednesday June 13, a group of scientists warned against the use of the pesticides. They said some could lead to illnesses and even death. The chemicals are mainly sold to control bed bugs, ants, rats and other vermin. Traders were also urged to stop buying the dangerous chemicals from unauthorised shops.

Professor Hanna-Andrea Rother, head of the Environmental Health division at UCT, urged the traders to be vigilant when purchasing pesticides. She said most were not authentic.

“You are selling to make a living, but most of the time you are selling dangerous products, which are dangerous even for your life, that of your spouse and children,” she warned.

“These street pesticides are not legal. They do not have labels. You put them in wrong containers that could lead to people or children drinking them accidentally.”

Professor Rother said the country had legal chemicals and pesticides with proper labels clearly identifying the substance inside.

“This is how we know if it is safe. The illegal ones have nothing on them and are not manufactured in the country,” she said, warning against negligent storage. She added that legal pesticides had a colour code.

Professor Rother urged the traders to check packaging, mainly labelling, when buying the chemicals. The department said it called experts to talk to the traders after some fatal cases in some parts of the province.

Vusumzi Skeyi, chairperson of Nonkqubela Informal Traders’ Association, said he hoped the workshop was the start of a good relationship between his organisation and the government.

He said previously government officials had confiscated their products without any discussion.

“We are happy they are here to teach us and advise us. But remember this is how we make our living. But truth be told, some of the products we are selling are not only dangerous to other people but to us as well. But we will see the end result of this awareness,” he told Plainsman.