17, April 2017: When considering the health impacts of Roundup, the world’s most popular herbicide, one might believe that only those who come into direct contact with it are in danger.
However, research has shown that there are myriad ways a person can be exposed to Roundup and its dangerous components, which include glyphosate, a carcinogen, and polyoxyethyleneamine (POEA), a so-called surfactant, which helps the chemical adhere to plant leaves and stalks.
Roundup is a herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. It is a popular herbicide for use in lawns and gardens, but its use in agricultural applications has skyrocketed in recent years as genetically modified crops have allowed farmers to use the potent weed-killer on crops such as corn, cotton and soybeans. It has been linked to many health issues, especially cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In farming, applying Roundup to crops can take several forms. It can be applied with a spray rig attached to a tractor or truck. It can be sprayed from an aerial vehicle, and it can be used in a small-batch mix strapped to a worker’s back and sprayed with a hand-held implement. In all those instances, the people directly involved with mixing the chemicals and loading them into whatever delivery system will be used are at risk for exposure.
But studies have shown that others are at risk of exposure, too.
A 2014 U.S. Geological Survey report of the Mississippi Delta region, which includes parts of Eastern Arkansas, chronicled the results of air and rain quality studies performed in 1995 and 2007.
The studies measured air and rain quality during crop-growing seasons in those years. In 1995, the study measured areas within 500 meters of areas that had been treated with herbicides. In 2007, the study area was expanded to include anywhere within three miles of a treated area.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was not measured in 1995, but it was measured in 2007. Researchers found that 75 percent of air and rain samples contained glyphosate — three out of four samples of air and rain contained the carcinogen.
Such a sample area would include tens of thousands of people in the eastern half of Arkansas, as many towns and cities — Stuttgart, Jonesboro, West Memphis, Paragould, Forrest City, even Little Rock — are within three miles of row-crop fields sprayed with Roundup.
But perhaps more dangerous than direct exposure to the herbicide is the long-term absorption of the chemicals through the plants we eat that had been sprayed with Roundup.
A 2014 story written by Pamela Coleman, Ph.D., farm and food policy analyst of The Cornucopia Institute, detailed the difference between “acute” and “chronic” toxicity of Roundup’s ingredients”
“The acute toxicity of glyphosate is relatively low, meaning that accidentally ingesting it will likely not cause immediate harm. Chronic toxicity—the effects of continually ingesting glyphosate residues in food—is cause for concern. Glyphosate interferes with fundamental biochemical reactions and may predispose humans to obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other health problems.It’s easy to overlook these effects. Toxicity studies on laboratory animals are typically short term, often only a few months. The harm from low-level, chronic exposure can only be seen after a long period of time, often years, or even decades. The real guinea pigs in this case are humans.From a scientific perspective, it is impossible to prove that a chemical ingested on food can harm a person’s health decades later. However, it is possible to study the specific biochemical action of the pesticide, and then examine the diseases that have been related to malfunction of that biochemical pathway.”
Of course, humans and plants aren’t the only living organisms absorbing Roundup’s chemicals from the air, rain and groundwater.
A German study focused on increased botulism cases in cattle — caused by glyphosate. The researchers found that chronic, or ongoing, exposure to glyphosate at residual levels, was interfering with the cattle’s digestive system, leading to botulism outbreaks. The study found that cattle could have been exposed to glyphosate not only environmentally but also through cattle feed.
Attorney Lisa G. Douglas of North Little Rock noted that many people who don’t use Roundup are at danger because of the herbicide.
“It’s easy to think that you’re not at risk of exposure to the dangerous chemicals in Roundup herbicide if you don’t directly use it, but that’s not the case,” she explained. “You may live miles away from where anyone is using Roundup, but you are still at risk of all kinds of health problems because of it.”
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer that could be related to exposure to Roundup herbicide, contact the Law Office of Lisa G. Douglas: 2300 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR 72114 or 739 South Seventh Street, Suite 2, Heber Springs, AR 72543; (501) 798-0004 or toll free 1888-The Lawyer, 24 hours a day; or online, www.LisaGDouglas.com.