Who to report chemical spray drift to

If you think that spray drift or chemical misuse has occurred, it's important that you report it to the right authority. There are different reporting requirements depending on the type of incident that has occurred.

Human health issues

Phone Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) on 1300 362 128 to report:

  • on-farm chemical misuse incident involving human exposure to chemicals
  • related concerns about risks to human health.

Agricultural chemical misuse incidents

If agricultural chemicals have been applied contrary to label instructions, report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.  Examples relevant to spray drift include violating the spray drift constraints that appear on some herbicide labels, such as:

  • spraying crops during prohibitive weather conditions
  • using spray nozzles other than those specified for minimisation of spray drift risk.

Examples of agricultural chemical misuse associated with other types of risk include:

  • harvesting crops too early outside of label withholding periods
  • crops being sprayed with an agricultural chemical not registered for the purpose
  • applying a chemical above label rate.

Odour drift

Contact your nearest local government authority to report chemical odours.

Agricultural chemicals may emit strong odours that can drift over a considerable distance. However, the presence of an odour does not necessarily mean the chemical is present.

Read noise, odour or dust – making a complaint (ESR/2015/1865) (PDF, 114KB) for further information.

Environmental damage

Phone the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation's (DESI) pollution hotline 1300 130 372 as soon as possible to report spray drift that you think has:

  • affected waterways
  • affected vegetation or trees.

Discuss the nature of your spray drift concern with the consultant who takes your call. Your complaint will be referred to a specialist officer for attention.

Alleged damage to vegetation needs to be assessed to determine if it is significant enough to warrant investigation.

Environmental fish kill

Phone the DESI pollution hotline on 1300 130 372 as soon as possible to report an agricultural chemical misuse or spray drift incident causing an environmental fish kill (a large number of fish, other marine or freshwater animals, killed in a short period in a creek or river).

Contact the DESI hotline even if chemical misuse or spray drift is not suspected of having caused an environmental fish kill.

Learn more about fish kill reporting.

Aquaculture fish kill

Phone Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 to report an agricultural chemical misuse incident causing an aquaculture fish kill (a large number of fish or crustacea, such as crayfish, killed within a short period in a hatchery).

If you are unsure whether the incident is aquaculture-related, phone DESI on 1300 130 372. DESI will refer the matter to Biosecurity Queensland if it is aquaculture-related.

An adverse experience

Phone the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) on (02) 6210 4700 to report an adverse experience or read more about adverse experience from agricultural chemical use.

An adverse experience is an unintended or unexpected effect of a product when used according to the label instructions. This includes:

  • noticeable harm/impact on humans, animals and crops
  • noticeable effects to the environment
  • visible lack of product effectiveness.

APVMA investigates all reports of adverse experiences with agricultural chemical products in Australia. APVMA is an Australian Government agency that approves the registration and labels of agricultural and veterinary chemical products, prior to sale.

Overflying of aerial spraying aircraft over residential homes

To report overflying issues only—not spray drift matters—contact the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) on 13 17 57 .

Spray drift incident resulting in more than one impact

Occasionally, the nature of an incident may require more than one agency to be involved because of multiple impacts.

For example, if agricultural chemical misuse has allegedly caused both commercial crop damage and chemical run-off into a nearby stream, DESI would deal with the alleged run-off and Biosecurity Queensland with the alleged commercial crop damage.

Generally, you should contact the agency responsible for the issue that you consider has had the greater impact. That agency then consults with the other agency dealing with the lesser impact.

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