The Parks Department in New York, which was responsible for spraying pesticides on greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year, is likely leading to more prevalent cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer, according to the findings of recent studies. The pesticide they use most often (even where children are at play) in order to eliminate weeds that house rats in New York is Monsanto’s Roundup – full of glyphosate carcinogens.
Even though the city posts warning signs 24-hours prior to spraying, the toxic chemicals in RoundUp linger, and no one really knows for how long. They say they spray in ‘little-used’ areas in the park – but we all know that with a little rain, pesticide runoff travels into the park’s lakes and soil, contaminating larger areas.
“In order to keep rats out of the playgrounds and meadow areas, we must use Roundup,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said. “It is not used inside playgrounds but is often used on little-used slopes outside playgrounds precisely because overgrown weeds near playgrounds harbor rats.”
The city of New York defends its use of RoundUp, even though it had to use 22 percent more in 2013 than in 2012 to combat problems. They attest that RoundUp is used because it was considered ‘less carcinogenic’ than other pesticides, at least according to a Health Department report. The department has declined to release data on just how often and where they spray among numerous green spaces in the city.
Experts are now concerned that this spraying may account for findings in a study just published in April by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found RoundUp’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is associated with lymphoma.
Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai, called the study “very authoritative” and believes the city should halt its use of RoundUp. It isn’t just the kids he is worried about.
“Workers are always at highest risk from chemical exposures because they have heavy, day-to-day exposures, but children are the group at second highest risk because their play patterns, such as stick hunting, put them in close contact with the chemicals.”
Landrigan added: “Any amount of exposure to a suspected chemical carcinogen is dangerous. More is worse.”
There is a second study which should weigh heavily on the Department’s decision to keep spraying RoundUp in New York.
Published last year by toxicology expert Gary Ginsberg, the study, called “What’s Toxic, What’s Not,” calls into question just how safe our ‘green spaces’ truly are, especially with the use of chemicals like glyphosate. Ginsberg says the chemicals are linked to breast cancer, among other things. He says that minimally, the city of New York should leave signs up for 72 hours after spraying – but why spray at all when we know RoundUp is so toxic?
City officials say “according to product information, the product is inert within 24 hours and is considered harmless at this point.”
This is a moot point, since there are also studies which show that glyphosate and other toxins bio-accumulate in the bodies of people, plants, and animals. Its time to find another solution to the rate problem in NYC.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.