The Investigation and Surveillance of Agrichemical Spraydrift Incidents

Published online: 
02 October 2007


The guidelines provide guidance to public health units that investigate complaints of adverse health impacts from agrichemical spraydrift incidents. These guidelines should be used whenever a complaint of off-target agrichemical spraydrift is made or referred to the public health unit. In most cases, the complainant will be a member of the public. All complaints of specific agrichemical spraydrift incidents should be recorded, irrespective of whether anybody has been exposed and irrespective of the likelihood that an investigation will eventually be carried out.

Properly applied, the guidelines will assist with determining:

  • the health impact of an agrichemical spraydrift incident
  • appropriate advice on managing the consequences of the incident, including risk communication.

Risk associated with spraydrift depend on the extent, concentration and droplet size of the spraydrift, the toxicity or other hazardous substances properties of the agrichemical, and the characteristics of the people exposed.

The guidelines highlight:

  • Complaints that are health-related should be reported to the local public health unit and should be entered in DriftNet.
  • Medical practitioners/hospitals that have attended to people injured by spraydrift exposures must report the incident, as required under section 143 of the HSNO Act.
  • An incident report should be completed on any health-related spraydrift incident, emailed to ERMA New Zealand ([email protected]) with ‘Incident Report’ in the subject line, and copied to your locality manager. Incidents of public health significance should also be copied to the Environmental Health Team at the Ministry of Health.

These guidelines are intended to assist public health units address public concerns and give sensible advice. Apart from drawing together background information, a protocol is suggested that lays out a response related to the likely level of risk to health, together with consideration of how risks may be evaluated and communicated.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    02 October 2007
  • Hardcopy date of publication:
    01 October 2007
  • ISBN:
    978-0-478-31220-1 (Print), 978-0-478-31221-8 (Online)
  • HP number:
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2007. The Investigation and Surveillance of Agrichemical Spraydrift Incidents: Guidelines for Public Health Units: Revised edition. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
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