More than one in four Irish children will test positive for the chemical herbicide glyphosate as the EU debates a ban
Tests on Irish families found that one in four people had the controversial weed killer ingredient glyphosate in their system.
The tests were conducted on farming and non-farming families, but the results were similar for both.
University of Galway scientists who conducted the research say it shows glyphosate is present in the general environment, not just around farms where it is most commonly used.
They hope the findings will help inform discussions in the EU on whether the license for glyphosate should be renewed when it expires later this year.
Glyphosate is the main ingredient in the most commonly used herbicides, but its use has been the subject of controversy for many years due to concerns about its impact on human and animal health.
The World Health Organization’s Cancer Research Institute concluded in 2015 that the chemical was likely to cause cancer.
This finding is not supported by European scientific bodies, but they do accept evidence of other harms to humans, marine life and wildlife.
Thousands of compensation claims related to glyphosate use have been paid out in the United States.
The Galway study involved 68 families, 14 of whom lived on farms where glyphosate was sprayed. There were 132 adults and 92 children.
It is important to understand how chemical exposures can occur among different groups, particularly vulnerable individuals such as children
Tests revealed that 26 percent of the group had glyphosate in their urine. The percentage was slightly higher for children.
The amount of glyphosate found in the urine of farming families was only marginally higher than that found in the urine of non-farming families.
All of the people tested had glyphosate levels well below the current safe limit, but the study looked less at levels within individuals than at the extent of glyphosate presence in the population at large.
The scientists also tested for AMPA, a chemical that lingers after glyphosate leaves the system.
They detected it in the urine of 59 percent of the test group, although they warn that AMPA can be left behind by other products as well.
dr Alison Connolly, one of the researchers, said: “This study provided important results on human exposure to a chemical of public interest and is particularly timely as the European Commission is currently re-evaluating glyphosate.
“It is important to understand how chemical exposures can occur among different groups, particularly vulnerable individuals such as children.”
The teammate Dr. Marie Coggins said the results should inform decisions about glyphosate and its use.
“The data suggest that occupational users may have exposures slightly higher than background levels, which could and should be further reduced through substitution with less harmful methods, careful chemical handling practices, and the use of exposure controls such as personal protective equipment,” said you .
The study is one of a growing number around the world collecting data on glyphosate exposure routes and risks.
Research from Trinity College and University College Dublin, published last week, found glyphosate on unsprayed hedgerows where bees collected nectar and pollen.
Glyphosate weakens and kills bees, while the prospect of glyphosate being present in honey they produce for human consumption is also a cause for concern.
https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/more-than-one-in-four-irish-children-test-positive-for-weedkiller-chemical-glyphosate-as-eu-debates-banning-it-42306607.html More than one in four Irish children will test positive for the chemical herbicide glyphosate as the EU debates a ban