(NaturalNews) In a new white paper entitled Human Health and Pesticides: Glyphosate and 2,4-D, the Midwest Pesticide Action Center warns of a ubiquitous source of exposure to toxic chemicals: so-called “Weed and Feed” mixes, or combinations of herbicides and fertilizers that are spread across everything from lawns and gardens, to parks, ball fields and playgrounds.
89 Million pounds of Weed and Feed products are used in the United States each year, solely by the non-agricultural sector. The white paper summarizes the research to date on the negative health consequences of the two most common herbicides in those mixes: glyphosate (Roundup) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).
Insidious, wide-reaching damage
The report utilizes the term “pesticide” as “an umbrella term that includes insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides.” Placing the health risks of glyphosate and 2,4-D into context, the report says, “Most pesticides contain chemicals that can be harmful to humans, and exposure to these chemicals can cause illnesses (ranging from mild irritation to severe poisoning, seizures and death).”
Specifically, the paper notes, glyphosate and 2,4-D have both been linked to cancer and to disorders of the reproductive, nervous, endocrine (hormonal) and respiratory systems. They are both known to be especially dangerous to children. Like all biocides, these chemicals can cause both short- and long-term health problems, and the risks only increase with prolonged contact.
The report specifically highlights the growing concern over the ability of toxic chemicals to introduce epigenetic changes: changes in gene expression (without changing DNA) that can be passed on to future generations. Research has linked certain pesticides to epigenetic changes, but this research has not yet been done on glyphosate or 2,4-D specifically. However, both herbicides have been shown to cause genetic damage. 2,4-D causes both chromosomal damage and changes in gene expression.
A 2013 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that consuming glyphosate just at the levels found on food as residue, caused enough damage to the immune system and gut to damage the microbiome and encourage the development of every disease associated with the Western diet, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility and Alzheimer’s disease. This “insidious” effect occurs slowly and steadily over time, the researchers found, due to glyphosate blocking key detoxification enzymes on a cellular level.
Impossible to avoid exposure
Although people typically think of pesticide exposure as posing the greatest problem only to agricultural workers, the report notes that urban exposure is also a major problem. Chronic exposure to low levels of pesticides and herbicides year-round from lawns and parks has been linked to cancer, neurodegenerative and neurobehavioral conditions, and reproductive problems.
Additionally, certain aspects of non-agricultural use may make herbicides and other pesticides even more hazardous. The report cites a study finding that herbicides tended to be applied at five times the recommended rate when used at private residences, coming out at a higher concentration per unit area than on a typical farm. This was attributed to a lack of knowledge and training by private residents. Alarmingly, these chemicals are easily tracked inside on shoes, clothing and pets.
Other studies have shown that toxic chemicals, including herbicides, take longer to break down in urban than rural settings. In addition, they tend to concentrate indoors. These factors combine to create substantial health risks for urban residents.
Weed and Feed products are also far from the only source of herbicide and pesticide exposure in non-agricultural settings. Chemicals are applied to homes, schools and workplaces, and also drift into populated areas from the agricultural fields where they are sprayed.
“The pervasiveness of pesticides [including herbicides] means that, increasingly, even those who choose not to use [these chemicals] in their homes will face ambient exposure,” the report warns.
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Written by David Gutierrez
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