Farmers warned not to become complacent about Parthenium - a Weed of National Significance
08 Dec 2016
Parthenium weed may look meek and mild, but the weed has taken a firm hold in some of Australia’s most productive agricultural areas with devastating effects on the health of the landscape, and potentially those who work it.
The noxious weed also bears the title of ‘Weed of National Significance’ and thrives in summer cropping areas and rangelands regions of Queensland, but has also been detected in New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Parthenium can cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions such as asthma and hayfever-like symptoms in susceptible people, but can also cause ongoing issues to primary producers who have enduring contact with the weed.
Chair of the Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP), Patrick Murphy, said with hot, humid, summer conditions providing prime growth conditions for the weed, it’s important to remind farmers – and their families – of the risks.
“Many farmers and graziers in the worst affected areas of Queensland are used to the challenges of living with parthenium infestations, but prolonged and ongoing exposure can lead to increasingly worse symptoms,” Mr Murphy said.
“It can result in eczema, asthma, skin inflammation, black spots, and burning and blisters around eyes, and can lead to secondary infections that worsen over time,” he said.
“With children home over the summer break, it’s also vital that parents on affected properties remind them of the risks and take proper precautions on-farm.”
• Long sleeves and gloves when working in infested areas
• Do not re-wear clothes or PPE worn to handle parthenium without washing them again
• If skin irritation occurs, do not rub or scratch the affected area and wash with water as soon as possible
PIHSP members Meat and Livestock Australia and the Grains Research and Development Corporation have been involved in a number of projects to improve the control of parthenium weed through integrated weed management strategies.
Parthenium is unpalatable and toxic to cattle and sheep, and can cause allergic skin reactions to stock animals grazing in areas infested by the weed.
The weed can also affect grain production, as an alternative disease host and as a contaminant.
The goal of the Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership is to improve the health and safety of workers and their families in farming industries across Australia. It is funded by the Cotton, Grains and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporations, as well as the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.
For more information about the partnership, visit www.rirdc.gov.au/PIHSP
For more information about parthenium weed in your state, visit your state government primary industries website.