Owners of banned pesticides within the UAE have 90 days to register and destroy the potentially fatal chemical compounds under new regulations issued by federal authorities on Monday.
One year after announcing an extensive ban on 401 of a listed 835 pesticides on record since the mid-2000s, the Ministry of Environment and Water announced on Monday that it is further cracking down on killer chemicals attributed to the deaths of more than five people across the country in 2011.
Officials investigated more than 20 incidents of pesticide poisoning last year in which infestation-ridding chemicals migrated throughout buildings under fumigation and threatened human health.
"Companies, organisations, and private and governmental bodies that own these banned or restricted pesticides will have three months following the issuance of this resolution to notify the ministry, or a specialised authority or body, so they can take the appropriate measures and dispose of these pesticides," said the ministry in a statement yesterday.
Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, said new measures will ramp up efforts by the government to protect human health.
In its statement, the ministry said new measures prohibit "individuals, private and governmental bodies from using, importing or trading in various types of pesticides.
"As per the resolution, it is forbidden to trade or use any type of pesticide until it is registered in the ministry's register, which requires the approval of the pesticide registration committee at the ministry, and receiving a licence from the specialised authority. The pesticide must also meet the standards and conditions of the bylaws of Federal Law No 41 of 1992 pertaining to agricultural pesticides."
Dinesh Ramachandran, technical director of National Pest Control based in Dubai, said steps to protect human health and ensure that only licensed companies handle dangerous chemicals may go a long way in preventing human tragedy.
"It is a good move. These are toxic chemicals. Definitely, it's a welcome move for chemicals that are harmful to the environment," Ramachandran told Gulf News, adding that the country "is moving in the right direction in line with international standards".
The latest steps will augment moves by Dubai Municipality's public health section where authorities are constantly monitoring pesticide firms to ensure public safety is adhered to.
"Dubai Municipality is doing surprise visits, evaluating company sites and making sure there are no banned products," he said.
On the no-go list
An Environment Agency list of banned pesticides obtained by Gulf News yesterday showed as many as 82 agents such as arsenic and DDT to mercury compounds are on the no-go list across the UAE. The chemicals are not only dangerous to human health but can hurt the environment.
Otaiba Al Qaidi, director of the Department of Hazardous Chemicals and Waste, said that a new resolution updates the list of banned pesticides in the UAE but did not elaborate on whether new pesticides were added to the blacklist.
The ministry, however, "separates the pesticides into different types, depending on its type, dangers, level of toxicity to humans and animals, and damage it causes to the environment".
The ministry said yesterday that the list includes "agricultural and veterinary pesticides, some of which are highly poisonous, carcinogenic and very damaging to the environment… banning these pesticides protect human, animal, and plant health, as well as agricultural and animal products".
Continued use of restricted pesticides for the time-being will help control pest problems under licensed technicians at approved pest control companies in the UAE, the ministry said.