Quantcast

Is Roundup Sprayed at Your Local Park?

Health + Wellness

New Yorkers who visit their local parks have likely been exposed to glyphosate, the controversial, cancer-linked main ingredient in Monsanto's popular herbicide Roundup. But the data about herbicide and pesticide spraying projects across the city isn’t adding up.

In May 2015, in response to the concerns of community activists and public health advocates, the city government released a report, Pesticide Use by New York City Agencies in 2014, detailing the use of pesticides by city agencies in 2014. According to that report, the city applied glyphosate 2,748 times.

New York isn't the only major U.S. city that sprays glyphosate. San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Philadelphia also use the controversial herbicide. Photo credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

However, according to data procured by a Freedom of Information Law request, the city has revealed only 2,000 locations of glyphosate use in 2014. Pesticide information related to Central Park and other areas that are managed not by the city government, but by nonprofit conservancies has not been made public.

Several environmental and community activist groups, including Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, Stop the Spray and members of the Coalition Against Poison Parks, are pursuing legal action to “force the City to reveal all locations where it has been used."

According to the parks report, the city applied pesticides 162,584 times in 2014. Various city agencies used nearly 8,000 gallons and more than 100,000 pounds of pesticides. Compared to 2013 levels, there was a 21 percent increase in insecticides by volume in 2014. What is of particular concern is the fact that, as the report states, "there was a 16 percent increase in herbicide use by volume, reversing a declining trend. Much of the change was due to a 9 percent increase in glyphosate products used.”

In March 2015, the World Health Organization, the UN's public health agency, said glyphosate, which is widely used on genetically modified crops such as corn and soybeans, likely causes cancer. In its report, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO’s cancer arm, classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." The International Agency for Research on Cancer scientists found that the chemical "induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals and in human and animal cells in vitro."

They concluded that there was "sufficient evidence" that the herbicide causes cancer in non-human animals and "limited evidence" that it also causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans. They said that the primary exposure to glyphosate comes through diet, home use—Roundup is a popular consumer gardening spray for people who are not informed about effective nontoxic methods—and living near sprayed areas.

A study published in February in the journal Environmental Health found that glyphosate persists in soil and water longer than previously thought and that human exposure to the chemical is rising. The chemical also has harmful effects on birds, fish and other wildlife.

While there was an increase in glyphosate use in New York City in 2014 as compared to 2013, the amount is much lower than it was in 2009, when, according to the Parks Department, it was used "to control invasive species in remote, often wooded, parkland.” The increase in glyphosate spraying in 2014 may have been due to “forest restoration work [which] was again done by Parks and their contractors, accounting for a substantial proportion of the city’s glyphosate use."

Photo credit: New York City Parks Department

To help residents steer clear of the toxic areas, Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, a performance-based activist group based in New York City, created a map charting the parks and public areas across the city that have been sprayed with glyphosate. The map was created using data provided by the New York City Parks Department.

New York isn't the only major U.S. city that sprays glyphosate. San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Philadelphia also use the controversial herbicide. Some big cities, like Chicago and Boulder, as well as smaller cities like Richmond, California and Takoma Park, Maryland, have instituted glyphosate bans.

The NYC Parks Department notes in its report that the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene “encourages the pursuit of alternative weed control methods that would reduce the need for these herbicides.” The city should follow its own advice and protect its citizens from this cancer-linked chemical.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Consumed: First Fictional Film to Cover Concerns of GMOs

Results of Glyphosate Pee Test Are in ‘And It’s Not Good News’

Monsanto Faces Rejection in U.S. Over GMO Soybean

Does Glyphosate Cause Cancer?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less