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Chemicals in Your City Park

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Do you love your local park and spend time walking around, sitting on benches or stretching out for a nap on the lush grass? What about pesticides and herbicides, how much do you know about what chemicals are used in that oasis of green that we look too for clean air and exercise?  Well over in New York City, one investigative reporter has uncovered some pretty disturbing information about a very powerful herbicide being used throughout the city’s park system, without much of anyone knowing the risks involved.

Roundup, one of agribusiness giant Monsanto’s most successful products, consists primarily of glyphosate, and is considered to be a low-risk toxin according to the Environmental Protection Agency of the US.  It is used for killing weeds and other unwanted grasses, many of which could grow in your local urban green space.  As reported by Anna Lenzer in Mother Jones Magazine, according to the New York City Department of Health, “Monsanto’s Roundup brand alone was applied by the city nearly 500 times last year—about a dozen bathtubs’ worth in undiluted form.” 500 applications which, depending on the amount and location of the spraying, could have dangerous side effects on humans, as well as things like water supply, if the chemical is sprayed near a reservoir or gets into the ground water.  But again, not everyone agrees on the extent of the risk as glyphosate itself is often called a low-risk toxic despite making it onto some high-risk lists.

A scenario that led cities like Chicago (90% round up free since 2008) and Boulder (no longer uses any Roundup) to drop or drastically reduce their use of he controversial herbicide. Meanwhile a series of new studies throw the low-risk assessment into question with findings that Roundup in small doses is still far more toxic than previously believed.  There is even new evidence linking it to reproductive and neurological disorders.  With all these new signs of danger, it seems more important than ever to consider what all our local governments are doing when it comes to the management of our parks and the use of potentially life threatening chemicals.

Source: Mother Jones Magazine

Photo: Mike_fleming / flickr

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