The pesticide Chlorpyrifos, an ingredient in dog shampoos and flea collars, has been banned in South Africa by the Agriculture Department, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) said on Monday.
The department published a notice banning its use as an active ingredient in domestic and garden pesticides on May 14, the LRC said in a statement.
The department had initially only proposed a restriction on the pesticide, raising the LRC's ire. The centre argued a partial ban was unlawful and called for the product to be completely prohibited in South Africa.
According to website chlorpyrifos.org, it is used to control and eliminate fleas, insects, termites, pests and mosquitoes. It's a popular ingredient in dog shampoos, dog flea collars and flea sprays.
The centre argued the department had not been privy to scientific information regarding the dangers of the chemical to humans, spokesperson Thulani Cele said.
"They suspended the use of the chemical, but after scientific research showing the danger it poses to humans and particularly children, it was decided by that it should be banned totally."
Chlorpyrifos was proven to have a harmful impact on children and foetuses.
"The symptoms of Chlorpyrifos poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and chest wheezing, eye pupil contraction, blurred vision, excessive salivation, convulsions, muscle spasms that may lead to muscle paralysis and in an extreme case, death by suffocation.
"Risks of exposure to Chlorpyrifos can arise from dietary exposure, residential exposure to the chemical post application and occupational exposure in the workplace."
However, while the pesticide had been banned, the issue now would be eliminating products containing the chemical from the market.
"The ministry has not been clear as to what would happen to existing Chlorpyrifos products."
It could take the department six months to a year to eradicate products that contained the chemical, Cele said. - Sapa