This recommendation was adopted at the session on 6 January 2000 on the basis of a report by Dominique Auzou.
Assisted by Jacques Bedouin, Committee technical adviser, in accordance with Article R.224-4 of the Consumption Code.
ISSUES THE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATION:
1) Consumers, professionals and amateurs are reminded that phytosanitary products are always dangerous because of their composition, even those intended for "amateur gardeners", although the danger varies according to the active substances and formula used. Generally, they present two dangers: first for the health of the person who handles them and secondly for the environment. The Committee notes that accidents with this type of product are far from rare. For example, in 1997 alone, the poison control centre of Lille received 553 calls for poisoning by gardening products or agricultural products with domestic applications, accounting for 6.89% of the total number of calls.
The initial enquiry focused notably on the ease of applying garden protection products to be diluted in water. The LNE's studies have shown that most manufacturers have so far failed to solve this problem satisfactorily for amateur gardeners. These studies clearly showed difficulties with understanding the doses required and practical measurement of such doses.
2) It is therefore advisable to:
(a) improve the clarity and legibility of user instructions by separating different classes of information:
- risk warnings, precautions, danger pictograms, protection equipment, etc.,
- information on product authorisation,
- user instructions and dosing data,
and by using distinctive colours and characters of sufficient size to permit most users to read them without glasses,
- use simple, universally known units geared to the surface area of amateur gardens (e.g. g/l, ml/l),
- use quantity measuring tools (dosing scoops, caps, etc.) whose graduations are easy to read and correspond to the units mentioned in the user instructions; they need to be strong and easy to handle,
- mention emergency actions in case of accidental ingestion or contact with the eyes or skin,
- remind the user that he must not leave pure or diluted products or their packagings within the reach of children, that empty packagings must not be reused and that residues must be taken to a waste disposal site after contact with the municipal authorities.
3) Approval by the Ministry of Agriculture is tied to the obligation to mention the surface area that may be treated for professional agricultural applications. When the same products are sold in packagings designed for amateur gardeners, it would be useful to transpose these quantities to a scale reflecting the surface of gardens.
4) It is obvious that these proposals must apply to all phytosanitary products designed for amateur gardeners, regardless of the manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer. This makes it essential to maintain contact between the UPJ and the competent administrations.
5) The Committee is moreover willing to take part in the working group that will be organised to prepare a government decision imposing certain obligations on professionals whose phytosanitary products are specifically designed for use in gardens.
6) The Committee also refers to its recommendation of 6 January 1993 with regard to sodium chlorate, which presents a particularly serious danger (deaths have been reported) when mixed with a chemical "reducer" such a sugar. The Committee further noted the "grave danger of preparing smoke equipment with this product". It called for labelling adjustments, initially voluntarily and subsequently regulated, in order to warn consumers against dangerous handling. Lastly, instead of using a total weed killer that is dangerous for the environment, it is better to use selective weed killers without residues.
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