Scientists and environmentalists lambasted the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) on Wednesday for failing to conclude the safety review of many pesticides for as long as 17 years.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claims that nine out of 29 pesticides used in Australia remains under safety review the past 13 years with two brands still being assessed since the agency was created in 1993.

Thirteen years or more to assess suspected human health and environmental impacts - that's far too long to ascertain a chemical's safety, especially when it's still sitting on shelves, quoted WWF spokeswoman Juliette King as saying.

The Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research at James Cook University charged that the chemical Diuron used for sugar cane growing remains on the market while still under review after more than eight years of ongoing assessment.

The centre also claimed that APVMA cleared for use the herbicide atrazine in 2008, a year after it was banned in Europe for causing deformities in marine life.

Further, the centre said it found unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in many streams and marine waters throughout Australia

I can only say that APVMA is failing in its role to manage pesticides in Australia, said Jon Brodie, the centre's water quality expert.