What chemicals are in your garden shed? Know the risks.

21 February 2013

Home garden chemicals are assessed by the APVMA for effectiveness and safety before they can be registered. Once registered, these products must continue to be able to be used safely. If not, they may be reviewed and decisions made as to whether they are still able to be used, possibly with new restrictions or constraints.

The changes may include suspension, or cancellation of product registration or removal of some approved uses. For example, many home garden chemicals can be used on ornamental plants, but not on food plants.

Some products may still be allowed for use in the home garden, but the ‘label instructions’ may change.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always read the label instructions. They are there for your safety and that of your family and pets.
  • A common problem with old packages and containers in garden sheds is that the labels may become degraded over time: they may be eaten by slugs or water-damaged and no longer readable.
  • If you can’t be sure of what’s in the container or read the label instructions, don’t use it. Dispose of it according to the requirements of your local council or state government.
  • Most home garden chemicals don’t have expiry dates, but when we alter or suspend the uses of these chemicals we generally phase them out over a two-year period. It’s a reasonable rule of thumb to say ‘don’t keep home garden chemicals in your garden shed for more than two years.’
  • Always follow expiry dates where they exist.

Check your product

All home garden chemical products must carry an APVMA (or NRA) approval number on the label. This approval number is your assurance that the product has been checked by the Australian Government chemical regulator as safe and effective if you follow the instructions on the label.

To be sure that your product is still registered and safe to use, especially if it’s been in storage for more than two years, you can search the APVMA’s chemical databases to check.

If you can’t find your product in these database searches, there’s a very good chance it’s no longer registered for use in the home garden.

Some recent changes to home garden chemical use

Chemical What is it/used for What’s changed
Dimethoate An insecticide and acaracide (kills mites and ticks) in a wide range of vegetable and fruit crops as well as ornamental and flowering plants. October 2011—cannot be used on food plants in the home garden.

Permit (13156) includes the new, updated use instructions for home garden products.

Fenthion

Also known as:

  • Lebaycid
Broad spectrum (widely acting) organophosphorus insecticide. Used on plants and around buildings. October 2012— cannot be used on food plants in the home garden.

Fenthion can still be used on other plants, but users should download a permit (13843) to obtain the new, updated use instructions.

Carbaryl An insecticide used to control pests in home garden and domestic situations and around public buildings. January 2007—carbaryl dusts cannot be used at all; carbaryl products that remain registered cannot be used on food plants in the home garden.

Creosote

Complex chemical mixture of phenols and cresols used to protect timber from insects and fungal decay. October 2004—creosote no longer to be used by home gardeners.

Contact:

Media Inquiries

Phone: +61 2 6210 4812
Mobile: +61 467 726 486
Email: media@apvma.gov.au

Last updated on 6 March, 2013

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