Sunday, 23 May 2010

is roundup - glyphosate - safe to use around dogs?

A recent article in Organic Gardener magazine, about glyphosate (Roundup), has me wondering about this herbicide in terms of its danger to dogs.

I have two concerns (apart from my general concern about the environment). First, I believe this is the herbicide that is used in Darebin Parklands, where we walk frequently.

Secondly, we have a back lane behind our house, one that is great for a short off-lead walk and also provides a private place to chase tennis balls. I asked our local council why a spray is used there and was told it's too expensive to mow it more than four times each year, so herbicides are used to keep the weeds down.

I've noticed that some weeds spring up immediately after the spraying in the lane and asked whether they might be Roundup-resistant, but the council official was non-committal about that.

However... now that I've read this article in Organic Gardener I see that there are now 16 weeds with confirmed resistance to this herbicide.

By the way, to clear up any confusion about what herbicide I'm talking about, here's a quote from the article:
Glyphosate is sometimes referred to by the original trade name Roundup, which was first marketed by Monsanto in 1974, and the two names are often used interchangeably.
I don't like to use this product in my own garden, so it bothers me that Penny is likely to be exposed to it when we're out walking. There's a lot of work being done to regenerate indigenous plants in Darebin Parklands, and glyphosate is considered to be an essential tool in fighting introduced weeds.

The article says,
While bush regenerators maintain they couldn't do their work without it, emerging research may yet see glyphosate join the long list of pesticides that were once thought to be safe, but turn out to be harmful.
The author says we tend to trust the story that glyphosate is relatively safe, but last year France's Supreme Court ruled that Monsanto had not told the truth about the safety of Roundup, and many Canadian municipalities restrict the use of any pesticides for cosmetic purposes such as lawns and driveways, because of health concerns.

Humans can wear gloves and face masks when they use it, and cover all exposed skin. But if my dog walks through a recently sprayed area, she will place her bare paws on it, she will roll in it, she might chew a few blades of grass, she might drink from a puddle that is polluted with runoff.

And not just recently sprayed areas, either - here are a couple more quotes:
While regulators agree glyphosate has a relatively low acute (short-term) toxicity compared with other herbicides, recent research indicating possible long-term health effect is causing controversy...

Glyphosate is relatively persistent in soil, especially in cold climates, where residues have been found up to three years after use. In warmer climates it stays in the soil for between four and 180 days.

Penny likes to dig, sometimes.


M. D. Vaden Portland Landscape said...

Depends on how you use it.

If in tiny amounts, its not much worse than breathing air. If people are concerned about trace amounts of Roundup / Glyphosate, they ought also put respirators on their dogs.

Because even the dashboard of a new car, or carpet, releases chemicals. There is stuff from every house and every part of town floating in the air we breath.

Better to use less or use zero if possible, but also wise not to panic needlessly either.

Page about Roundup / Glyphosate and Ingesting

parlance said...

M.D.Vaden, thanks for the interesting comment. I read your page and found it reassuring in terms of my own minimal use of it in my garden.

a eldridge said...

Every time my husband sprays for weeds with roundup my Maltese gets sick and vomits all day..she eats the grass sometimes and of course licks her paws. I am worried the weed killer may be causing this

Anonymous said...

Used RoundUp on weeds around trees - noticed cat chewing on dead stalks more than once - cat now has liver cancer - are they related? Quit using RoundUp

parlance said...

Anonymous, that is so sad. I agree. I shouldn't use Roundup at all.