Last week I attended the annual SAPCA (South African Pest Control Association) conference which was held in Bloemfontein. As the Marketing Manager for Rentokil, I felt that my attendance was mandatory – not only to meet industry players but to get a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of the field in which we operate.
Secretly though, I was a little worried that the presentations would be terribly technical, way over my head, and just a little bit boring! I needn’t have worried; many of the topics were around “greener” pest control, and how the industry has evolved over the years to accommodate the changing laws and standards surrounding the use of chemicals. Technical detail there was, but not enough to baffle, and I found the subject matter varied and interesting.
One particularly informative presentation was given by Professor Gerhard Verdoorn, an expert on chemicals who runs the Griffon Poisoning Centre, an NGO which deals with animal and human poisonings. His presentation centred on those chemicals our industry is currently using which should – in his opinion – be banned by Government due to their potentially harmful effects on humans, animal and / or the environment.
I was interested to note that one of the chemicals he mentioned was Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide which has been used for decades, but which has recently been banned by the South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery. The Minister banned the chemical for home and garden use, but it is, however, still allowed to be used for pest control in the agricultural sector.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate that was popular in many home and garden pest control products. As a result, it will take between 6 – 12 months for products containing Chlorpyrifos to be phased off the shelves. As an organophosphate, it has many potentially harmful side effects, especially if applied incorrectly by an unlicensed operator or a DIY user. Dr. Verdoorn made the point that while Government has banned the use of this chemical for domestic use, the fact that it is still available on the shelves and to the agricultural sector means that it is open to abuse by unscrupulous operators, and the public – as a result – are at risk. Read more here. I am very pleased to learn that Rentokil phased out the use of Chlorpyrifos ten years ago after we realised the potential danger this organophosphate can pose to people.
Should you need to use pesticides at home, here are a few tips to consider when purchasing them:
- Ensure the pesticide is registered for use against the pest you wish to control.
- Read the label very carefully, noting dilution and application rates.
- Note the active ingredient, ensuring that it is not an organophosphate.
- And lastly, if you have any doubts, always contact a registered, professional pest control company.
- Remember: always educate yourself before purchasing pesticides.