of Head Lice Shampoos.
Upton: Thank you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, for the opportunity
to raise this matter and I thank the Minister for coming to the
House to respond.
raise this matter in response to reports from the United Kingdom
which point to serious and worrying dangers posed by the use of
a shampoo for the treatment of head lice containing Malathion,
an active ingredient in it, and an organophosphate. I raise this
issue in an attempt to highlight the concerns, particularly of
parents, about these reports. Malathion, like all organo-phosphates,
is a poisonous and dangerous pesticide, and since children are
the main users of these products it is vital that the British
reports are studied closely and their implications acted upon.
raise this matter on foot of a report on the British television
programme "World in Action" last Monday, which referred
to a scientific study carried out in the UK indicating that users
of these shampoos can absorb between five and ten times what are
considered to be safe levels of malathion when used to treat head
lice. I do not have to tell you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, or the
Minister, Deputy Moffatt, that organo-phosphates are toxic and
act on the nervous system. The concerns attaching to them are
rather wider than their effects in shampoo -- a number of farmers
in the UK have shown symptoms associated with the use of products
containing these chemicals. Three head lice shampoos which are
licensed for use and available in Ireland contain organo-phosphates.
are a number of aspects of this matter. A certain level of information
is now available on the dangers associated with these products.
Science is developing all the time and it is important that we
be up to date with what is happening. There is a risk of improper
use of these products by consumers of these products, if an inadequate
level of attention is given to the dangers associated with them
if they are not used in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions.
Are the Minister's Department and the health promotion agencies
conducting research into the implications of the British studies
as reported this week? Do they have a coherent plan to ensure
consumers are fully aware of the dangers which may be attached
to the use of these products and how they should cope with them?
is vital that the Minister should respond to the worrying results
found this week by British scientists. Head lice shampoo and malathion
are mostly used on a vulnerable section of the community, that
is, children. We must make every effort to research the full implications
of the use of organo-phosphates and thoroughly investigate any
hint of harmful effects. We must also take this opportunity to
engage in an active campaign to inform parents of the dangers
or over-use or improper use of these products. In this context
I ask the Minister to request the Department's health promotion
unit to develop an action programme to inform parents and other
users of the safe ways in which these products can be used, any
risks which might be attached to their improper use, and the broader
question of whether the use of these products should be discontinued.
the response he got from Minister for health and children Dr. Moffatt