By Mark O’ConnellPublished 11:35pm (EDT)On the heels of a national debate on the need to remove the chemical substances that can be harmful to health, the Australian Government has announced a plan to phase out the chemical disinfectants in public places and workplaces.
The Government is considering a policy that would allow public bodies and workplaces to use a different disinfectant, but would not require people to use it.
Health Minister Scott Emerson said the Government had to be pragmatic.
“There’s not a lot of public safety benefit to doing something like this, it’s just a bit of a waste of resources,” Mr Emerson said.
He said the decision would come after a series of public consultations with stakeholders.
Dr Emma Stokes from the University of New South Wales School of Public Health said the proposal would be “very, very controversial”.
“We need to know how much public health benefit we are getting out of this and how many people are actually using this,” she said.
“I think it will be very controversial, we are not looking to get a quick fix and I don’t think it is going to solve the problem of people being exposed to these chemicals.”
But it does create an opportunity for us to be very, very clear that we are going to be using safer, less toxic chemicals.
“Public health officials in the country have warned that the chemicals, known as disinfectants, were contributing to a rise in asthma, allergies and other health problems.
As part of the plan, public health agencies would be required to notify people in the public right of way about their potential exposure to the chemicals.
It is also expected to remove chemicals that were in use before 2020, including chloroform, brominated flame retardants, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, dioxins and trichloroacetic acid.
The plan is to be rolled out in phases over the next five years.
Mr Emerson said he expected the phased-out policy would reduce the number of people who would need to wear masks and would be used by all state and territory governments.
Topics:health,government-and-politics,environment,environmental-policy,australiaFirst posted June 23, 2018 07:42:24Contact Louise McQuillanMore stories from New South Wollongong