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While the rate of pesticide poisoning has declined in recent years, City Health remains concerned about the thriving illegal pesticide trade. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Health Department will intensify education and awareness campaigns around the use of illegal pesticides in the run-up to summer, which is usually associated with an increase in the presence of pests like rodents, flies and cockroaches.

The City’s Environmental Health team is part of the inter-sectoral Pesticide Poisoning Action Group which also includes Law Enforcement, Metro Police, the South African Police Service and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Its primary responsibility is health education and awareness during raids and inspections through the distribution of posters and pamphlets.

In recent years, the pesticide poisoning incidence rate has declined in Cape Town – from 1,45 per 100 000 of the population in 2007/8 to 0,18 in 2015/16 as a result of the interventions of the various role players.‘We commend everyone concerned for their efforts, however the truth is that we should be able to avoid such incidents altogether. Not only are many of the pesticides that are sold extremely harmful to humans if not handled properly, liquid pesticides are often sold in plastic bottles which children in particular can easily mistake for cool drinks. Just last year there was the tragic incident of a young child who ingested rat poison in Khayelitsha. This is the type of thing that we try to avoid by confiscating illegal pesticides from traders and doing our best to educate the public about the dangers involved,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.

Some of the most common and problematic pesticides sold include Two Step, liquid poison mixtures, Green Leaf sachets for cockroaches and flies, Aldicarb, slug granules and insecticide chalk sticks.

Such sales are prevalent in areas with high foot traffic like public transport interchanges. City Health’s observations have found that areas like the Philippi and Mitchells Plain town centres, Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Gugulethu and Heideveld are hot spots where these illegal pesticides are sold.

Some of the key challenges to eradicating the sale of illegal pesticides include:
· traders being desperate to make a living and therefore not having an incentive to stop selling illegal poisons
· illegal dumping, which provides food sources for rodents and other pests
· a lack of success in tracing the main suppliers of illegal poisons

‘Illegal dumping continues to be a major headache. The public needs to realise that effective waste management is the best way to deal with pests, which will in turn reduce or eliminate the need to use pesticides and to put themselves and their loved ones in harm’s way. The only way we will really address this issue is if we’re able to kill the demand for illegal pesticides. The responsibility begins at home with our attitudes to waste management,’ added Councillor Mamkeli.

City Health has an extensive rodent baiting programme in all informal settlements and many public areas around the city. The Directorate also works closely with other City departments to ensure that illegal dumping and the associated health hazards are dealt with as quickly as possible. The City’s Environmental Health Department is in talks with the University of Cape Town to research more effective ways of dealing with the illegal sale and use of pesticides.

Members of the public can report any concerns or tip-offs about the sale of illegal pesticides to their nearest Environmental Health office or contact the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.

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