The Press: Fumigant danger to DNA

Helen Murdoch of The Press reports on recent research showing that methyl bromide could have a damaging effect on DNA.

The chemical, which is widely used in horticulture and to fumigate imports and log exports, is being reviewed by ERMA (the Environmental Risk Management Authority), who will determine whether it should continue to be used in New Zealand.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“A Canterbury University PhD student, under the guidance of toxicology professor Ian Shaw, is researching what methyl bromide does to cells. Shaw said the research showed the protective chemical, glutathione, reacts with methyl bromide and is depleted.

“Shaw said background levels of methyl bromide could deplete glutathione, which replaced itself slowly.

“”The fact the chemical reaction occurs is the important thing. If a cell is unprotected and methyl bromide is present, it could damage other molecules in the cell, like DNA.”

“A link was known to exist between DNA damage and motor neurone disease, he said.”