1080 does not bio-accumulate in soil and presents little risk to the surrounding environment. Research demonstrates that when residue from uneaten 1080 bait seeps into the soil, microorganisms break it down into non-toxic by-products. This process is called biodegradation.
Most 1080 is leached from baits after 100–200 mm of rainfall, but this can be variable, so the breakdown of baits (and animal carcasses) is monitored for each operation to determine when the caution period can end.
When 1080 is placed in water, it quickly dilutes to minute quantities. External, independent research has confirmed that 1080 presents very little risk to waterways, and the people and wildlife that use them.
Who says 1080 is safe?
DOC maintains a thorough ‘information review’ of all 1080-related scientific research. The information contains references to all the scientific information we use to inform our decisions. The document is available on request.
We draw heavily on robust science conducted by independent research agencies. Much of this science is published in international scientific journals and quality checked by the ‘peer review’ process in which independent experts verify accuracy and quality.
Major research is also conducted by respected agencies such as Landcare Research, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Cawthron Institute and Universities in New Zealand and abroad.
Regulation by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
Strict health and environment regulations control all 1080 operations. There are 15 separate pieces of legislation that govern toxins use in New Zealand, ensuring a high level of safety and assurance.
The EPA is the government agency responsible for regulating activities that affect New Zealand's environment. They decide how 1080 may be applied in New Zealand and monitor it’s safe use. DOC closely follows EPA guidelines in order to keep the public safe.
Following ongoing public concern over the use of 1080, DOC and the Animal Health Board (now TBfree) requested that the Environmental Risk Management Authority (now the EPA) conduct an independent reassessment of the use of 1080 in New Zealand.
The exhaustive reassessment was released in 2007. It assessed the scientific information available on 1080, including adverse effects. The review considered volumes of scientific literature and expert evidence and heard more than 1,400 submissions before approving 1080 for continued use.
Conclusions from the review:
- The continued use of 1080 has significant benefits for New Zealand’s environment.
- Well-managed aerial operations pose a low risk to the native environment and to indigenous biodiversity.
Review by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE)
The PCE is an independent Officer of Parliament and is wholly independent of the government of the day. She/he has broad powers to investigate environmental concerns, with the aim of maintaining or improving the quality of the New Zealand environment.
In 2011, the PCE investigated the use of 1080 because, in spite of the 2007 ERMA reassessment, there was ongoing concern expressed about 1080 use in New Zealand. The commissioner conducted an extensive review of all information available on 1080. She spoke at length with advocates and opponents and systematically reviewed 1080 for its effectiveness, safety and humaneness.
From the PCE's report:
“It  scores surprisingly well, due in large part to the increase in scientific understanding, the establishment of a strong body of evidence, and the addition of many controls over the years.”
“It is my view based on careful analysis of the evidence that not only should the use of 1080 continue (including in aerial operations) to protect our forests, but that we should use more of it.”
We welcome rigorous, independent assessment of our systems and processes. Since receiving recommendations from the EPA and PCE, we have improved the way we communicate our work to the public:
- Pestice summaries map – all current pest control operations.
- Monitoring results for native species and rodent monitoring results – regularly updated results of 1080 operations.
- Make an Official Information Act request to enquire about 1080.
- Official Information Act responses – posted online after being deemed of high public interest.