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---December 29, 1986---
News and resources for environmental justice.
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Recent studies linking the weed killer, 2,4-D, to cancer are causing the chemical and lawn industries, consumer groups and federal and state environmental agencies to reconsider use of the chemical. A study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD, found that farmers who had been exposed to 2,4-D were 6 times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a tumor of the lymph system) than farmers not exposed. A study by Hazleton Laboratories America of Vienna, VA, one of 30 performed for chemical manufacturers since 1980, found that about 10% of rats exposed to the chemical developed brain tumors. 2,4-D is found in more than 1,500 over-the-counter weedkillers. Chemlawn Services, the nation's largest professional lawn care company, recently suspended all use of the herbicide. The U.S. EPA will decide in a month or two whether to give 2,4-D special review -a process requiring up to 2 years.

An environmental toxicologist from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey says the dioxins that contaminate 2,4-D are in the middle range of toxicity and 2,4-D could be used safely only with protective gear--masks, boots and gloves. The Pesticide Public Policy Foundation, a chemical industry group, said 2,4-D is perfectly safe for use around the home, even without gloves. The Chevron Chemical Company, maker of Ortho Weed B Gone the largest selling 2,4-D herbicide for home use, also says no protective clothing is needed when using the herbicide.

2,4-D is most commonly used by herbicide manufacturers because it is cheaper, less toxic and more effective than some other weed killers. A spokesman for the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides said that farmers may be justified in using 2,4-D because their livelihood depends on it, but said it is absurd for people to put themselves at risk for an emerald lawn.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.

Descriptor terms: 2,4-d; herbicides; pesticides; cancer; nci; studies; dioxin; pesticide public policy foundation; chemlawn services; laboratories america; poisons; chevron chemical company; ortho weed be gone;

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