Supervisors ban use of herbicide, glyphosate, for 30 days

This screenshot of a Google Maps look at Hillcrest Parkway demonstrates the reduction in landscaping.

County supervisors, citing a number of worrisome scientific studies, placed a 30-day ban on the use of glyphosate, a controversial herbicide used on county lands, until they figure out its impact on people.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl directing county departments to stop using the herbicide until a full investigation is done to determine whether the chemical is appropriate for use by the county, based on potential environmental and health impacts.

“I am asking county departments to stop the use of herbicide until public health and environmental professionals can determine if it’s safe for further use in L.A. County and explore alternative methods for vegetation management,” Barger said.

The use of glyphosate, a main ingredient in the herbicide brand called “Roundup,” is a well-known and effective weed abatement method used by many public and private entities.

“In a 2015 study led by 17 experts from 11 countries, the World Health Agency’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate should be classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans,’” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.

“That conclusion makes it imperative that we question any long-term use of this controversial herbicide, and that’s exactly what this motion calls for.”

The Department of Public Works, in conjunction with Public Health, Parks and Recreation, Beaches and Harbors, and the Agricultural Commission, will study the issue and report back to the board with findings and alternatives within 30 days.

County departments contract with the county agricultural commissioner and the Department of Weights and Measures to perform their spraying routines, according to information supplied by Barger and Kuehl in their notes to fellow supervisors.

The agricultural commissioner serves as the principal regulator of herbicides and pesticides in the county.

Use of the herbicide must be done in full compliance with all federal and state regulations that govern them.

The agricultural commissioner operates under the Countywide Integrated Pest Management System and has established protocols for herbicide use.

Despite these controls, however, there is a growing body of scientific study around the safety of using herbicides and the ill effect it can have on human, animal and environmental health, both Barger and Kuehl point out in their notes to supervisors.

County residents who live near active application sites have shared deep concern about the use of glyphosate-based herbicides and have expressed dismay at the scale of which county departments utilize this method.

In closing out the documents explaining their call for a ban, Barger and Kuehl wrote:

“In the interest of public health, the board should temporarily ban the use of this herbicide until further research can be done to identify alternative methods for vegetation management and the safety can be reviewed by public health professionals.”

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