Public parks are supposed to be safe places for children to play, but several studies are now warning that a pesticide sprayed at some NYC playgrounds could pose a health threat for kids. DNAinfo reports that the Roundup brand of pesticide used by the Parks Department around city playgrounds has been linked by researchers to both breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer that effects the immune system).
The new concerns came to light as the result of a recent International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study that links Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, to lymphoma. A separate study out of the Chulabhorn Graduate Institute in Thailand published last year also linked glyphosate to breast cancer.
However, Roundup’s company spokeswoman Charla Lord responded to the findings claiing that 40 years of comprehensive toxicological studies prove that the product does not contain carcinogens. “[Glyphosate] does not cause cancer, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption, birth defects or reproductive problems,” Lord told DNAinfo.
Typically, the city sprays Roundup to kill areas of overgrown weeds where rats sometimes make nests. But as of late the city has been using much more of the weed killer, spraying public parks 1,365 times in 2013. The city declined to comment on how many times Roundup was sprayed this year, but it’s possible that the number was even higher than previous years considering that the Health Department has been removing other weed-killing chemicals due to their higher toxicities.
To keep children safe, the Parks Department also puts up warning signs 24 hours before and after an area has been sprayed but experts say that the city should cordon off the areas that have been sprayed for up to 72 hours. Others also question how safe pesticide sprays are as they can run off to other areas after a rainstorm. While the jury is still out on how dangerous glyphosate is, children are at the greatest risk because they put their hands and other objects into their mouths, which could lead to direct exposure to these harmful chemicals. Readers should keep their kids safe by washing their hands after visiting city parks.
Images © Kevin Lee for Inhabitat