As with many products, you should always read the Ingredients list before making a purchase! I’m sure that we’ve all heard how weed killers can be bad for you, but do you know which ingredient it is that makes it so and what it actually can do to your health and the environment?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup and over 5 other common herbicides. This chemical has been used for years to the point that we are now stuck in a cycle. Plants have started building up resistance to the chemical, so industries are using more in order to protect crops and prevent weed growth. While glyphosates break down in sunlight (the trait that makes it “safe”), if the chemical gets into water, it takes much longer to break down and this is where the glyphosates can wreak havoc on the environment and our drinking water. They still act as an herbicide, killing water plants that provide food, protection, and nutrients for the aquatic ecosystem. Not only will the animals and plants in the water be affected, but humans will too once it hits our drinking water. While cities keep a careful eye on public water, most private well owners don’t routinely test their water and keep their eye out for pollutants that may enter their drinking water. Even if the private well owner doesn’t use toxic herbicides, these chemicals can be carried by water from elsewhere. Well water is supplied by groundwater and runoff ends up in groundwater.
Even if you don’t have a well, you should still test your water or be careful about runoff and what chemicals you use! Contaminated water may not look, smell, or even taste any different than pure water does. Studies have linked Glyphosates to embryonic mutations that affect the nervous/skeletal development of amphibians and that all that it takes for placental cells to become damaged is to be exposed to concentrations less than that used in agriculture.
Not only can Glyphosates be toxic in water, but they can be even worse when combined with another ingredient – Polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA). POEA is an inert ingredient in many pesticides and herbicides. The chemical reaction that Glyphosate undergoes when combined with POEA damages wildlife cells and soil biota more than the Glyphosates alone.
Another active ingredient of many herbicides is 2,4 – dichlophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and it has also been linked to health concerns such as cancer, kidney damage, reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption. You may not be thinking of yourself, as you spray your lawn, but you might think about your pets! 2,4-D has also been linked to Canine Malignant Lymphoma.
There are many ways to prevent illness and to keep the planet safe. One is to never mix Glyphosates or 2,4-D near water. Keep them at least 100 ft. away from wells if you use these chemicals. There are many alternatives to using these harsh, toxic chemicals too that you may find safer for your planet, plants, pets, and family!
Dump boiling water over large, weedy areas to kill them. The hot water leaves no residue and has no lasting effect on the environment other than eventually cooling and adding water to the soil! Another fairly simple method of weed killing is to just prevent their growth! Mixing corn gluten into your flower beds every year and raising the blade slightly on your mower (the longer grass blades will keep sunlight from hitting the soil and promoting growth of various weeds) will prevent weed growth. Another method is by creating your own herbicide out of gentler chemicals like Salt, Vinegar, and Dish Soap. Salt does have a negative effect on soil, so never drench the soil! Mix 1 part salt in 8 parts hot water. Add dish soap and for a more effective herbicide, add another 8 parts of vinegar. The acetic acid will kill the plants while not harming the soil. This may take several applications since you shouldn’t soak the plant.
Again, always be sure to check the ingredients list before you purchase any weed-killing chemical to prevent it from becoming an environment-killing chemical! For more information about the research done with the chemicals and health, various safer recipes, and regulations placed on herbicides, check out these links!