Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Toxic RoundUP Exposure Today

I am suffering the effects of toxic exposure from RoundUp this afternoon. A product developed by Monsanto, RoundUp is touted as a "safe" herbicide, yet there is a growing body of scientific research that says otherwise.

Date:   2/6/2013 12:35:00 AM   ( 8 y ) ... viewed 6007 times


 As I write this I am feeling the effects of having been “RoundUpped” this afternoon: my head is throbbing, my lips and tongue are tingling, and I feel exhausted. These are symptoms I get when I’m on “toxic overload”, having been exposed to chemicals that my body, as a person with multiple chemical sensitivity*, has a hard time detoxifiying.

This afternoon I took a walk at one of my favorite 2 mile trails that parallels a river channel, hidden in the midst of a Southern California suburban neighborhood. As I headed back to my car on the return route I spotted a man walking towards me wearing a white jump suit with a backpack on his back, wearing gloves and goggles (note to self: the guy is NOT wearing a face mask), and a spray nozzle spraying some liquid out along the edge of the trail. “!@&*!!” I said to myself, “herbicide!” 


There was no direct route back to my car but to walk past the man. I immediately pulled my sweatshirt hood up over my head and pulled the front of my sweatshirt up over my face so that only my glasses were exposed. I held my breath and ran past him. All along the side of the trail were wet splotches where he’d just sprayed. It was a long way back to my car, and I couldn’t hold my breath for that long. I veered to my left, made an Olympic leap over the wet spray zone, and ran off the trail into the bunch grass while running full tilt.


Imagine: one out-of-shape middle aged woman with sweatshirt pulled over her head, running pell mell through the bunch grass on a perpendicular route from the trail in an effort to put as much distance between herself and the toxic hazard, tripping over the uneven ground, breathing hard although she’s desperately trying NOT to breath, turning her left ankle but running on, until she goes as far as she can without crashing into the fence delineating someone’s backyard. Neighborhood dogs barking at me as I ran, I made my way along this back route to the parking lot.


In the parking lot I saw two park maintenance men in a work truck. They started to pull out of the parking lot but I flagged them down. The driver asked me how he could help me. I opened my mouth, pointed at the guy-in-white who was now in the bunch grass I’d just tripped through, spraying away. “HE SHOULDN’T BE SPRAYING WHILE THERE’S PEOPLE ON THE TRAIL!” I yelled, unaware until the words came boiling out that I was that angry. I kept yelling. I don’t remember all that I said. The driver was very polite. He kept saying he understood my concern. He said the herbicide was RoundUp, and that it wasn’t toxic to people. I told him that was not true. I said that it was an herbiCIDE and it was meant to KILL and how can a chemical meant to KILL not be harmful? that it just doesn’t stay put where it’s been sprayed, but gets into the ground water, that all it takes is a good rain after they’ve sprayed and that stuff will make it’s way into the river? How can they spray that stuff when the Great Blue Heron from the river channel fly over and stand in that very grass field that the man-in-white was now spraying? Three women and a baby emerged from the part of the trail newly sprayed. How can they spray when there’s a BABY on the trail? Don’t they know that chemicals accumulate in the human body, and that it’s even more hazardous for a baby who’s still growing??


The driver said he didn’t like chemicals either. I stopped in mid-rant, took a deep breath, and apologized for yelling. We talked for awhile more. He told me the manufacturer said it was safe; I said the manufacturer would say that because they want to sell the product. I told him I’d read a lot about RoundUp and it is not safe for people, wildlife, or the environment. I told him it was more than one mere spraying, that it’s the accumulation of chemicals in the environment that takes its toll on human and environmental health. He appeared to listen to me. He said he’d have to investigate more about it. I told him the least the city could do would be to put up a notice on the outside of the trail of the spray schedule, giving people a choice if they wanted to be on the premises during those times. He said he’d talk to his employer about it.


When I got home I telephoned the city and spoke to the director of the parks program. He told me he had a degree in biology from such-and-such a university and had been in the parks department for 20 years. He told me RoundUp was a “class 3” herbicide, meaning the least toxic. I countered that “least toxic” does not mean NON-toxic. He concurred, but said that the parks department has to use it because they do not have the funding to pay for labor-intensive weed pulling by hand. I suggested using diluted vinegar to kill the weeds. This man had the nerve to tell me that vinegar was probably more toxic than RoundUp! He told me that the way RoundUp works is to break down the chlorophyll in the weeds, and once this occurs the weed dies; since there is no chlorophyll in humans or in wildlife, it can’t hurt them. I knew right then that there was no common ground with the director, so I tried another tactic.


I told him that over in the neighboring city, it was their policy to spray RoundUp only on days when the parks were closed and there were no people on the trail. The Program Director said that the particular trail I was on was open every day, but the policy was that RoundUp was to be sprayed only when it could dry before people walked on it (!).  I told him that was definitely NOT the case this afternoon. I asked him if the city would notify the public what the spray schedule was going to be by posting a notice outside the trail; he said that RoundUp usage did not require this public notification because it was “safe.” I said, what about the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)? I said that I was considered to be disabled with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), and that that was a recognized disabling condition by the United States government. I asked, as a disabled person and a member of the public, am I entitled to notification of the spraying of a substance in a public park that directly impacts my health? He said he didn’t know, he’d never heard of that before and no one had ever asked him. We ended the conversation with his assurance that he would speak to the man-in-white about not spraying when people were on the trail.  I’m going to do a bit of investigating regarding the ADA, and I’m also going to write the program director and send him a copy of the links below:


Feb. 21st, 2013 NEW STUDY:  Roundup more toxic than previously thought:  

The most widely used herbicide in the world contains compounds more toxic than previously thought: new research has proven (from a study of nine Roundup-like herbicides) that the most toxic compound is not glyphosate, which is the substance the most assessed by regulatory authorities, but a compound that is not always listed on the label, called POE-15.


Roundup linked to animal birth Defects: Regulators Knew World's Best-Selling Herbicide Causes Problems, New Report Finds: Industry regulators have known for years that Roundup, the world's best-selling herbicide produced by U.S. company Monsanto, causes birth defects. The report, "Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?" found regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals. But despite such warnings, and although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public.

Glyphosate linked to deformities in animal vertebrate embryos, 2010 PDF of scientific study 

Plant and animal Pathogen connected to glyphosate: Plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor Don Huber has written a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that a newly discovered and widespread "electron microscopic pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings." He said the pathogen appears to be connected to use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

Glyphosate linked to Cancer: A recent study by eminent oncologists Dr. Leonard Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson of Sweden, has revealed clear links between one of the world’s biggest selling herbicide, glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup, marketed by Monsanto), to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Roundup Residues found in plants one year after application: Roundup, Monsanto's brand name for its glyphosate herbicide, has been touted as a "safe" herbicide since its introduction in 1973. 100 million pounds of Roundup are used annually in the United States alone. Monsanto has claimed from the beginning that Roundup is biodegradable and leaves the soil clean. As reported by BBC News in October 2009, a French court found the company guilty of false advertising on this claim. Residues of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, appear in new plants a year after the chemical's application.

Glyphosate-based herbicides linked to human miscarriages and premature birth: Although the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup is generally thought to be less toxic to the ecosystem than other pesticides, concerns about its effects on human reproduction persist. In a study in Ontario, Canada, exposure of male farmers to glyphosate-based herbicides was associated with an increase in miscarriage and premature birth in farm families. Seeking an explanation for these pregnancy-related problems, researchers at France’s Université de Caen investigated the effects of the full Roundup formulation and glyphosate alone on cultured human placental cells [EHP 113:716–720]. The herbicide, they found, killed the cells at concentrations far below those used in agricultural practice. Surprisingly, they also found that Roundup was at least twice as toxic as glyphosate alone. Virtually all previous testing of Roundup for long-term health damage has been done on glyphosate rather than on the full herbicide formulation, of which glyphosate makes up only around 40%. The remainder consists of inactive ingredients including adjuvants, chemicals that are added to improve the performance of the active ingredient. Roundup’s main adjuvant is the surfactant polyethoxylated tallowamine, which helps glyphosate penetrate plant cells. 


Significant levels of Roundup found in air and water: Significant levels of the world's most-used herbicide have been detected in air and water samples from two U.S. farm states, government scientists said on Wednesday, in groundbreaking research on the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup. "It is out there in significant levels. It is out there consistently," said Paul Capel, environmental chemist and head of the agricultural chemicals team at the U.S. Geological Survey Office, part of the U.S. Department of Interior. Capel said glyphosate, the key ingredient in "Roundup" herbicide, was found in every stream sample examined in Mississippi in a two-year period and in most air samples taken. Tests were also done in Iowa. "So people are exposed to it through inhalation," said Capel. (Emphasis mine) More research is needed, Capel said, to analyze the implications.   


Roundup may disrupt endocrine function: The latest damaging evidence against this potent herbicide, once widely believed to be safe, comes from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which is now detecting glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in streams, the air, and even rain. While the concentrations detected in rain and air are thousands of times less than what farmers dump onto field crops, emerging scientific evidence about what these chronic low-level exposures do to our bodies is cause for major concern, particularly among unborn babies and young children. (emphasis mine) These tiny amounts we're breathing in daily could be altering our hormones and wreaking all sorts of havoc on our bodies, but the human health effects may not show up for years or decades.

Did Monsanto know about Water and Air contamination? Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook, a St. Louis native, has written Hugh Grant, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Monsanto Company, asking him when the company had reason to believe glyphosate would extensively contaminate water and air and if the company had conducted tests of its own. "We are asking that in this case, the company tell the public what it knew about glyphosate contamination, and when it knew it," Cook said. "It is inconceivable that a company with Monsanto's scientific capacity did not predict, and examine, the possibility of air and water contamination by glyphosate."  In 2001 and 2002, EWG compiled a series of internal documents showing Monsanto withheld for years its knowledge of widespread PCB contamination of water and soil in Anniston, Alabama.  Then-Washington Post journalist Michael Grunwald chronicled the scandal in his seminal report: Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution


*Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic condition in which the immune and central nervous systems are affected by daily exposure to the toxic chemicals that dominate modern society such as perfume and scented products; cleaning products; car exhaust, synthetic fabric, vinyl, pesticides, and other petrochemical products; building materials, furniture, formaldehyde, among many others.

Related Blogs:

Photos of "Human Canaries": Photographer Thilde Jensen began photographing her series "Canaries" a year after developing MCS.  

Chemicals Making You Sick?  Toxic chemicals are ubiquitous in our 21st century Western environment. Over 20% of people who are chronically ill have chemical sensitivity, often undiagnosed.


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