New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(1): 1- 20

An updated review of the toxicology and ecotoxicology of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) in relation to its use as a pest control tool in New Zealand

Review Article
Charles Eason 1,*
Aroha Miller 1
Shaun Ogilvie 1
Alastair Fairweather 2
  1. Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Ecology, Lincoln University, PO Box 84, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand
  2. Department of Conservation, Hamilton, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) is a vertebrate pesticide, originally developed in the 1940s and principally used for the control of unwanted introduced animals in New Zealand and Australia. Fluoroacetate is also a toxic component of poisonous plants found in Australia, Africa, South America, and India. In relation to its use as a pesticide, recent research has focused on further elucidation of its potential sub-lethal effects, on animal welfare issues, on understanding and reducing its risk to non-target species, on its ecotoxicology, and fate in the environment following use in baits. 1080 acts by interfering with cellular energy production through inhibition of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and lethal doses can kill animal pests within 6–48 h of eating baits. Exposure to sub-lethal doses has been shown to have harmful effects on the heart and testes in animal studies, and strict safety precautions are enforced to protect contractors and workers in the pest control industry. Considerable care must be taken when using 1080 for the control of animal pests. Primary poisoning of non-target birds and secondary poisoning of dogs must be minimised to ensure that benefits in terms of conservation outcomes and pest and disease control significantly outweigh the risks associated with its use. Despite over 60 years of research and practical experience, the use of 1080 is still embroiled in controversy, while research efforts continue to improve its target specificity when it is used as a conservation tool or for Tb vector control.