Can Weed Killer Cause Cancer?

Science and the jury are still split

Appllying weed killer while wearing plastic gloves

The pursuit of a green lawn with lush grass is every homeowner’s dream. So when you spot dandelions sprouting up in the middle of your manicured yard, you reach for a bottle of weed killer to eliminate the plant-based eye sore.  

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But it’s no secret that chemicals aren’t exactly good for you. So should you really be dousing your yard, garden and sometimes (accidently) yourself with chemicals?

Glyphosate-based herbicides

When it comes to weed killer, the element in question is glyphosate. This chemical can be found in hundreds of herbicides on the market today. And findings over whether or not it’s actually harmful have been all over the board.

Some organizations believe there is an alleged link between exposure to glyphosate and cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While others believe it isn’t likely to cause cancer in humans.

“The weed killer story points to interesting disconnects between science, public opinion and court decisions,” says oncologist, Dale Shepard, MD, PhD. “A large settlement for a weed killer lawsuit came about two weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans.” 

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Meanwhile, The World Health Organization (WHO) identified glyphosate as being carcinogenic.

So science, the jury and the public are all split when it comes down to it.

It still raises the question: Should you be concerned?

People who don’t use glyphosate-based herbicides very often or at all probably don’t have much to worry about. And although the jury is still out, science could suggest that landscapers, groundskeepers and farmers who frequently use the products in large doses might be at higher risk. Still, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the chemical.

Still nervous about weed killer? Stop use or follow these precautions:

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  • Follow labels and warnings carefully.
  • Wear gloves, glasses and cover any exposed skin.
  • Avoid use on rainy or windy days to prevent the chemical from drifting. 
  • Wait until the treated space is dry before letting pets or people near the area.

Or try an alternative to chemical herbicides:

  • Try using vinegar on unwanted weeds.
  • Make a homemade weed remedy for your yard.
  • Stick to only using organic products. 
  • Fight weeds the old-fashion way — pluck them out yourself.

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