Questions and answers about fipronil

Questions and answers about fipronil and the possible effects on health and the environment.

How are the risks of fipronil in eggs determined?

On the basis of experiments carried out in animals threshold values have been determined for fipronil below which the substance is not harmful to health. For fipronil two health threshold values have been determined: one value for acute or short-term exposure and one value for long-term (lifelong) exposure. These threshold values are expressed as an amount per kilogram of body weight. On the basis of the amount of fipronil that has been found in eggs it can be calculated whether these health threshold values are being exceeded.

Is there a health risk from fipronil in eggs?

No acute health effects are expected from current exposure via the consumption of eggs containing fipronil. If the number of eggs that the Nutrition Centre recommends is combined with the highest fipronil content found, the threshold value that applies to short-term exposure will be slightly exceeded. This is above all the case for children, as the concentration of fipronil per kilogram of body weight is relatively higher because of their lower body weight.

If the threshold values are exceeded, measures should be taken to prevent this continuing (see NVWA list with codes and NVWA actions), but it does not automatically mean that there will be harmful health effects. A large margin is used to convert the data from the animal studies to people and thus to safeguard safety. We know from studies involving people who have poisoned themselves with fipronil that acute poisoning symptoms are seen only with much higher dosages. Acute complaints with this high dosage are nausea, abdominal pain and headache. In principle these complaints quickly disappear.

We cannot make an accurate statement about the risks incurred when people eat eggs that contain fipronil over a long period. We need more information to be able to do this, such as the length of the period during which people ate these eggs and the fipronil content in other products in which eggs have been processed.

Is there any specific advice for children?

As a precautionary measure the NVWA advises parents for the time being not to let their children eat any eggs that have the codes published on the NVWA website.

Will RIVM carry out any investigation into the eggs?

No, RIVM provides expertise and supports the NVWA with this expertise. RIVM does provide general information about the effects of fipronil on health.

Can I eat the eggs if I boil or cook them well?

No. The standard methods of preparation, such as washing, boiling or cooking, do not remove the substance fipronil from the egg.

When were these eggs in circulation?

The NVWA is the appropriate body to answer this question.

Is it safe to eat chicken?

Yes, you can eat chicken. Although laying hens are consumed, it is almost never as chicken fillets or chicken legs. Most products contain small amounts of this meat. This means that exposure to fipronil is probably very small when these products are eaten.

Eggs are processed in a lot of products. What companies have done this, in which products and during what period?

The NVWA is the appropriate body to answer this question.

What about the eggs that have in the meantime been processed in products (mayonnaise, etc.)? How much fipronil is in these? And is it safe to eat these products?

The NVWA is the appropriate body to answer this question.

Can I eat eggs from egg farmers (instead of eggs from the shop)?

The NVWA is the appropriate body to answer this question.

I am several months pregnant and I may have eaten eggs over the last few weeks that contain fipronil. Can this affect my unborn child?

On the basis of the current data no health damage to unborn children is expected. So there is no extra risk to pregnant women or unborn children.

I am pregnant. Over the last few weeks I have eaten several eggs. Can this harm my unborn child?

Fipronil has no known harmful effects on reproduction or unborn babies. Moreover, the current exposure via eggs is so low that in general no health effects are expected, not even if several eggs are consumed. So there is no extra risk to pregnant women or unborn children.

I am pregnant. Last week I ate an egg with the code 40155. Is that harmful for me or my unborn child?

Fipronil has no known harmful effects on reproduction or unborn babies. Moreover, the current exposure via eggs is so low that in general no health effects are expected, not even if several eggs are consumed. So there is no extra risk to pregnant women or unborn children.

Have there already been people reporting ill because of fipronil at health centres, GP surgeries or RIVM?

No, nobody about whom the National Poisoning Information Centre has been consulted in the last few days by health centres and GPs had any complaints or symptoms as a result of eating eggs that possibly contained fipronil.

What are the possible environmental effects?

RIVM is currently charting first of all the effects on public health. It will also look at specific environmental effects.

What do the XXs in the egg codes mean?

The NVWA is the appropriate body to answer this question.

Are there any symptoms of acute fipronil poisoning known in people and, if this is the case, what are these?

Several acute cases of poisoning in people have been described in the scientific literature. The poisoning was a result, among of other things, of deliberate overdoses. The symptoms that occurred were nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness and epileptic seizures. In most cases the complaints disappeared of their own accord.

It is known from animal studies that long-term exposure to fipronil can cause damage to kidneys, liver and thyroid gland. Is there any information about this kind of damage in people and about the seriousness of this damage?

Studies among employees in a fipronil manufacturing company who come into chronic contact with fipronil showed no increase in abnormalities in thyroid gland function tests.

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