Study Finds 90% of Families Have Toxic Weed Killer in Bodies. Significantly Higher Levels Found in Children

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Contacts: Caroline Cox, CEH’s Senior Scientist, 541-654-2626, Michael Green, CEH’s CEO and Founder, 510-378-7333, Zack Kaldveer, CEH’s Communications Manager, 510-938-2664

Results released as Trump’s EPA poised to approve the continued use of glyphosate in the U.S. for 15 more years

A new study by Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found over 90% of families tested had glyphosate in their bodies. The study sought to determine whether children are more exposed to Monsanto’s toxic weed killer than their parents. The results were unequivocal. Nine of the twelve parent-child pairs tested (in one family both parents and two children participated), the child had higher concentrations of glyphosate in their body than their parent. Six children had twice the amount than their parents and one had nearly a hundred times more. The families tested lived in a variety of states from across the country. CEH’s findings corroborate other recent studies that found glyphosate in the bodies of 70 to 93% of those tested.

“Our findings are particularly alarming for children, whose bodies are still developing,” said Caroline Cox, CEH’s Senior Scientist. “A toxic weed killer known to cause cancer has no business in our bodies or our food. Human health and the health of our children should outweigh the chemical industry’s right to profit. These results warrant immediate, long-term, independent follow-up studies with increased sample sizes.”

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most widely used herbicide in history. 2.4 billion pounds have been sprayed on American farmland in the last decade. The World Health Organization has classified it as a “probable human carcinogen.” California’s environmental protection agency listed glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer. Recent research has found it can increase the risk of some cancers by more than 40 percent, disrupt hormones,  damage human cells, genes, and cause birth defects.  

Bayer/Monsanto has also recently suffered three landmark legal defeats in which jury’s ruled plaintiffs had contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma in part because of exposure to its glyphosate-based Roundup. The company has been forced to pay plaintiffs approximately $2.4 billion in damages. More than 13,000 similar cases against the company currently await trial.

The increasing use of the weed killer allows for numerous routes of human exposure, including food and proximity to farms that use it on corn, soybeans, oats, and hundreds of other crops. Children are more exposed to pesticides than adults, and Roundup is increasingly sprayed around homes, schools, and parks, found in popular children’s cereals, and the vast majority of oat-based items on public school menus.

“Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like glyphosate can have lifelong and even transgenerational health impacts,” said Alexis Luckey, Executive Director, Toxic Free North Carolina. “These hormone disruptors can cause even more harm at low doses. So, there’s no assurance that any level of glyphosate exposure is safe. This study highlights the need to protect children and families by promoting organic alternatives to this toxic weed killer that are less harmful to human health and the environment.”

Nonetheless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to approve the continued widespread use of glyphosate in the U.S. for another 15 years. EPA’s evaluation process has been widely condemned, favoring Monsanto-funded studies over independent, peer-reviewed research linking glyphosate exposure to cancer and failure to follow proper protocol. Nearly 150,000 public comments have already been submitted urging the agency to ban its use, with just over a month before the deadline to weigh-in comes.

“Trump’s EPA has ignored a growing body of science and recent jury rulings that contradicts Monsanto’s internal studies,” said Cox. “We urge EPA to put the health of the American people, especially children and the farmers and farmworkers who use this toxic weed killer regularly, ahead of chemical industry profits and end its use for good.”

Cities counties across the U.S. and a growing number of countries are taking a different approach than Trump’s EPA by restricting or banning the use of glyphosate. And increasing numbers of U.S. schools are buying more organic food and ending the use of Roundup on school grounds.

Consumers can reduce glyphosate exposure by purchasing organic food whenever available and affordable. Each of those dollars spent supports more organic farms, none of which use glyphosate. Work with local elected officials to enact organic policies that end the use of glyphosate and other toxic pesticides like it. Use organic/eco-friendly pest management in your yard and garden. If you work with glyphosate herbicides, wash your hands often; after work, remove your shoes before entering your home, wash (including your hair) with soap and shampoo immediately, and change into clean clothes as soon as possible.

Special thanks to the families who participated in this study. We also thank our partners: Tulare County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety, Lideres Campesinas, Coming Clean, Detroit Food Policy Council, and Toxic Free North Carolina.

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