Photo of plants inside greenhouse

Weed killers are substances used to control and destroy unwanted weeds or plants.

Roundup is one of the most widely used weed killers in the world.

It is used by farmers and agricultural workers in the field, and even by homeowners in their yard and garden.

This weed killer, however, is making rounds lately due to concerns about its potential adverse health effects and risks.

But mainly because of its active ingredient.

Is weed killer harmful to humans?

Continue reading the article to know more about Roundup, and why it is a highly debated topic among experts.

What is Roundup (Glyphosate)?

Roundup is a popular weed killer or herbicide manufactured by Monsanto.

It is a non selective herbicide, which means it will kill most plants it comes into contact with.

Glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, can also be found in many other herbicides including Bronco, Rodeo, and Pondmaster.

It is often used on vegetable and fruit crops, aquatic plants, lawns, and glyphosate-resistant crops such as cotton, corn, soybeans, canola, wheat, and many more.

But aside from being fatal to unwanteed weeds, Roundup has also been associated with many diseases, including cancer.

And did you know that this top seller herbicide has a bunch of consumer lawsuits under its name because of the alleged dangers it poses on humans?

But Roundup is not the only pesticide that has been brough to the attention of the court because of its dangers to human health.

Paraquat, a herbicide just like Roundup, has also been the target of many lawsuits in the United States for quite some time now.

According to recent research, exposure to Paraquat can cause a myriad of serious health complications, including heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, lung damage, and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

In 2017, the first Paraquat lawsuit was filed against its manufacturers on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who subsequently developed Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to the herbicide.

Roundup and the risks it poses to human health is still a hot topic among experts today.

Is Weed Killer Poisonous to Humans?

Many weed killers contain dangerous chemicals that may be harmful to humans following exposure.

In the case of the Roundup weed killer, most studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, but not on its other ingredients which may be more toxic compared to glyphosate.

In fact, a recent study found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients, called polyethoxylated tallowamine, or simply POEA, can kill human cells including the placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells.

Therefore, since Roundup is a combination of many chemicals, studies showing the safety of glyphosate alone may not be reliable, because Roundup is also made up of potentially toxic chemicals and not only glyphosate alone.

What Happens If You Get Weed Killer On You?

If you use glyphosate based herbicides on your yard or garden, glyphosate exposure may be possible by breathing the chemical in, or getting it in your eyes or your skin.

If you are exposed to the chemical, it is likely that you eyes, nose, and throat become irritated from it.

Getting it on your eyes could result in mild irritation or an injury in the eye, while swallowing it may cause pain and burns in your mouth and throat, which may ultimately lead to nausea, vomiting, increased saliva, and diarrhea.

Other symptoms of glyphosate poisoning include abdominal cramps, difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure, slow heart rate, dizziness, weakness, and kidney failure, among others.

And even though the cases are relatively small in number, intentional ingestion of glyphosate has also resulted in deaths.

It is also possible to get the chemical or the toxic substance on your skin when you spray Roundup on a weed or crop without any protective equipment, or by touching plants sprayed with the pesticide soon after.

Although severe cases of burns or injuries due to skin absorption of Roundup are rare, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, getting Roundup on your skin may still result in serious side effects.

For instance, skin irritation, burns, and other injuries are possible once your skin comes into contact with the chemical.

Aside from these negative side effects, however, the weed preventer has also been associated with much serious adverse health effects, and one of them is cancer.

Roundup and Cancer: Is There a Link?

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, which means the chemical is a potential cancer-causing agent.

However, despite this declaration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the systemic herbicide is not carcinogenic.

Other studies have associated glyphosate with tumors in rat and mice, but there is still limited evidence of this in humans.

The majority of studies that link glyphosate exposure to cancer mainly involves farmers and agricultural workers who use the the glyphosate herbicide in their workplace.

Some of these associate glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, a part of the body’s germ-fighting immune system.

However, it is true that the debate on glyphosate and chronic exposure to it is still going on up to this day.

This is because other studies have found no connection between Roundup exposure and cancer.

For instance, a huge study that included 57,000 farmers found no link between glyphosate based herbicides and lymphoma.

Two recent studies have also found no association between the use of glyphosate herbicide and cancer, although it is important to note that some of the studies’ authors have financial ties to Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto.

Part of the issue on these conflicting findings is the uncertainty of the risk that comes from glyphosate alone and the risk of toxicity that comes from other chemicals in Roundup formulations.

The Bottom Line

Several studies have linked glyphosate to certain types of cancer, while a few others have found no association between the two.

There are also studies which explored the health effects of glyphosate residue in foods, but this matter is also a highly debated issue.

If you work with the grass killer Roundup and other similar products or if you reside near a farm, make sure to take the necessary precautions to avoid chronic exposure to the herbicide and its potentially toxic ingredient, glyphosate.

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