If you’re like the majority of homeowners, you take pride in the appearance of your yard, and the last thing you want to see is weeds cluttering your flowerbeds and dotting your immaculate lawn. As regular yard maintenance, you probably employ an arsenal of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers to keep your yard looking picture perfect. You may think that the chemicals used in these products stay outdoors and dissipate quickly, but they actually build up in the soil, in water supplies, and are easily tracked into your home!
Did you know that the average American household contains approximately 62 toxic chemicals? Along with the toxic chemicals that come from daily household cleaners, air fresheners, and even off-gassing from chemicals used to clean your upholstery or involved in the manufacturing of your flooring, there’s a good chance that one of those chemicals is glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup weedkiller.
What’s Wrong With Roundup?
According to The Scientist, glyphosate is a pesticide ingredient steeped in controversy. While farmers have relied on the herbicide to kill unwanted vegetation in their crops for more than forty years, its use has sparked hefty debate in scientific circles recently. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) came to the conclusion that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic” and added it to the same category that contains meat – likely because the chemical is used in 90% of crops fed to cattle. The WHO based their findings on three major studies in Sweden, Canada, and the U.S. that linked non-Hodgkins lymphoma (a type of cancer) to glyphosate exposure.
Other respectable agencies have reported the dangers of Roundup as well: In March of 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced their finding that based on animal studies, the commonly used weed killer probably causes cancer in humans. They specifically linked the exposure to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, hairy cell leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Lawsuits Against Roundup
While there are numerous lawsuits that have been filed against Monsanto’s Roundup by farmers, it is not as widely known that there are also plenty of homeowners who have litigated against the company and the product. In fact, according to the Monsanto Roundup Trial Tracker, the now German-owned Bayer company (Bayer bought Monsanto a couple of years back) is facing 13,400 lawsuits from US plaintiffs for its safety concerns, it’s handling of scientific data, and its practice of covering up known issues, plenty of them not related to the agricultural use of the product. One of the latest victims alleging responsibility in a July 2019 lawsuit against Roundup is a 12-year old boy suffering from cancer. Of the recent litigation, there have been four other plaintiffs alleging that the herbicide caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma; their successful lawsuits have resulted in jury awards ranging from $80 million to $2 billion. Bayer is appealing to those awards.
The Dangers of Toxic Herbicides, Pesticides, and Household Chemicals
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), household cleaner and other product manufacturers do not have to meet any sort of safety standards for the ingredients in their products, nor are they required to provide testing data before bringing their products to market. While being exposed to a toxic chemical a handful of times isn’t likely to cause any major health issues, EWG’s main concern about household and yard chemicals is the daily, weekly, or chronic exposure that can build up in the body over time and trigger disease.
These chemicals aren’t just in the air, on the ground, on indoor surfaces, or in our water supply, but also in our bodies, as proven by a May 2016 study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, who announced that they discovered glyphosate (Roundup’s active ingredient), in the urine of 93% of the American public — with the highest concentrations being found in children.
The National Center for Health Research Scientists has also warned that research shows that relatively low levels of indoor cleaning products and chemicals, weed killers, bug sprays, and pesticides can cause cancer and other serious medical issues in children, and likely, adults.
A study published in September 2015 found that being exposed to insect sprays and other insecticides placed children at a higher risk of developing lymphoma, leukemia, and brain cancer.
Toxic Household Chemicals and Children
Common household cleaning products and pesticides and outdoor herbicides like Monstanto’s Roundup pose a health threat to all family members, but especially so for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has warned that infants and children can be harmed by toxic chemicals and pesticides in their daily life, and conclude that exposure to them early in life can result in a variety of health issues including respiratory issues, cancers, lower testing scores measuring reasoning, thinking, and remembering, as well as behavioral problems. The AAP recommends that parents reduce their children’s exposure to toxic chemicals as much as possible by reducing pesticides, herbicides, and household chemicals in their food and drink, and by using non-chemical methods whenever possible.
Why are young children more susceptible to being exposed to dangerous toxic household chemicals, insecticides, and herbicides? Children and infants are generally closer to the ground, indoors and outside, as they typically crawl, and play there, and they are constantly exploring with their fingers and mouths. When you use lawn and garden weed killers, fertilizers, insect sprays, flea sprays, household cleaners, and floor and carpet cleaners, they typically leave a toxic residue that lingers in the air, on surfaces, and even on toys. Additionally, because children are lower to the ground, they breathe in more of these toxic chemicals than adults. That is especially dangerous, as they are smaller and their brains and bodies are still developing.
Reducing Your Indoor Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
We’re exposed to dozens of dangerous indoor chemicals routinely — from the noxious fumes in oven cleaners to the phthalates in the synthetic fragrances common in air fresheners, candles, and laundry detergents. Common household products have been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, asthma, hormone disruptions, and reproductive disorders. The best way to fight back is to avoid using products with toxic chemicals as ingredients and to remove toxic substances from the air with air purifiers and using water filters for your shower, tap, and refrigerator water sources.
Due to runoff or contaminated city water supplies, Roundup may even be in your tap water. A study published in August 2015 found that low levels of exposure to Roundup in drinking water caused serious kidney issues in rats.
Water filters can remove toxic substances found in your water supply such as:
- Chlorine – deliberately added to the water supply to kill pathogens and germs, its by-products trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids have been linked to skin irritation and increased cancer and kidney issue risks.
- Arsenic – has seeped into the water supply in Arizona, New Mexico, and California
- Nitrite – like arsenic used to kill rodents, nitrite is a groundwater contaminate from fertilizers that gets into our water supply, known to reduce oxygen in infant blood, causing respiratory and digestive problems, brain damage, methemoglobinemia, and can cause death.
Air filters and purifiers can remove toxic chemicals from your indoor spaces as well as other known health-compromising pollutants such as mold, mildew, dust, off-gasses, and other micro-particulates. For example, chlorine not only can be absorbed through drinking treated tap water, but it can also be absorbed through the skin when using cleaning products or taking showers, and linger in the air for long afterward. The chronic effects of inhaling chlorine can be acute; it’s a serious thyroid disruptor as well as a respiratory irritant. Chlorine is commonly found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mold and mildew removers, and laundry brighteners.
Ammonia is another powerful respiratory irritant. Commonly used in window cleaners, degreasing products, and floor cleaners, that sparkle has a price: it causes chronic bronchitis, asthma, and affects the young, elderly, or those with compromised immune systems with lung issues and breathing issues. In addition to the obvious indoor toxins found in household products such as insecticides, flea products, and common indoor cleaning products, air filters and purifiers also remove toxic chemical outgassing from:
- Dry-cleaning residue on draperies
- Synthetic hard floor coverings
- Synthetic carpet fibers, backing materials, and padding
- Soft furnishings such as pillows and upholstered furniture in synthetic material
The bottom line is if you want to protect your family. you’ll want to invest in products that will ensure your family’s safety and health.