Homesteading and Livestock

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Chemical Herbicides - Are they For You? (Part Two)

12/1/2011 5:18:10 PM

Tags: Conflicting scientific reports on herbicides containing 2, 4-D. Some hazards involved in its use, What 2, 4-D is and what it does., Bruce McElmurray

ThistleWhen I started this study on chemical herbicides - especially 2, 4D Amine 2, and blog my layman’s report I should clarify that I am not trying to paint chemical companies as the evil empire.  This industry provides  many of the essential lifestyle benefits we currently enjoy.   I’m well acquainted with the virtues and utility of  this industry and we all rely on them to one extent or another.  What I hope to point out is that some chemicals should only be handled by professionals and that the average homesteader should not be able to buy a toxic product as freely as we do.  Lets face it, no one even takes the time to read the multiple page ultra fine print booklet put on the product so they are not used  properly in most cases. 

That being said, the question remains what is 2,4-D Amine 4, or any other 2,4-D product for that matter.  It is most widely used as a world wide broad leaf herbicide and has been in use for over 50 years.  2,4-D comes as either a salt, amine, or ester.  Each has slightly different properties but the results are equal as it kills the target plant by causing rapid cell division and abnormal growth.  The major  problem with this product is that many independent scientific studies have produced different results.  Some say no long term effect has been demonstrated in animals or humans.  Others reports  say something quite differently.  Therefore this chemical compound has been the focus of controversy for as many years as it has been in existence. 2,4-D made up about 50% of Agent Orange widely used in Viet Nam.

The report furnished to me by the EPA reflects that there are suggestions that it may be linked to certain cancers, or that it may or may not have long term effects.  I would personally think that any chemical that had been widely used and studied for over 50 years would be more definitive.  The Material Safety Data Sheet uses terms like - limited evidence for carcinogenicity in humans.  Eye irritation in rabbits is corrosive and causes irreversible eye damage.  Its target organs are the skin, central nervous system, liver and kidneys.  It is toxic to aquatic invertebrates.  In my opinion I would hope that in  half a century its full toxic properties would be more widely understood and not speculated, suggested, implied or contradicted.

It can be inhaled, absorbed via the skin, or ingested.  It has a half life from 7-14 days depending on which report you may read.  I read one report that once tracked inside onto carpet that it has a half life of up to one year.  Babies, pets and humans all use a carpeted floor not knowing it contains toxic properties.  It clearly breaks down and degrades outside much faster than inside.  Remember that children according to the EPA have up to 10 times more susceptibility to chemicals than adults and even adults have different levels of susceptibility.

I believe the alarming factor to me is that each report I read had different conclusions and findings.  They omit common sense questions or concerns and seem to do end runs on this product with a wide variety of conclusions which are mostly inconsistent.  It doesn’t seem to matter which side of this product you may come down on, neither side seems willing to accept the others findings.  After reading so many reports with so many different alleged findings it is very confusing.  Some reports say pets are not effected, and others say four exposures a year will kill a dog. Some say if you have sun screen on the absorption rate is 50% greater. Okay, which is it?  Are we spraying weeds and killing our pets and ourselves at the same time or not?  Are we protecting ourselves from skin cancer and accelerating the absorbing of 2,4-D?  It is very hard to report on this chemical when the reports conflict and confound results.

The final part I plan to blog on will be the cooperative studies done by major institutions and the resulting  toxic effects and hazards associated with this product.. This report, since it was done at various universities probably comes closer to a unified truth than others I have read.



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Post a comment below.

 

ADAM SWENSON
12/3/2011 9:09:11 PM
Do we really know the risk? The Forestry Service Review from 2005 states no studies have been done on repeated inhalation exposure. I've also not seen any mention of whether it can cause rheumatologic disease for example; the kind of disease that can never go away and can be completely debilitating. As far as benefit It's one thing to prevent food famines but I know people are using this for the sole pupose of killing dandelions in their yard.

BRUCE MCELMURRAY
12/3/2011 7:47:41 PM
Do we really know how much exposure we are getting and is it worth the over all risk. I don't know about other areas of the country but in our area the water board has found 2 4-D in our ground water and wells. It leaches into the water system. As to risk/benefit analysis I'm not convinced I want the government to do that for me. I think we need to be informed, and all make our individual analysis. It is very true that to much water can be toxic, especially so if it has additional toxic properties in it. I have had that example used on me before and I don't see the relevance. The purpose of the blogs are so people can do like Adam did and check out the product and decide for themselves if they want to use it or not. the problem I had with this product is that the studies had conflicting results to the extent you don't know what the toxicity level is that is safe. Example: One woman told me she sprays it all the time and neither she nor her dogs who had been in it when she sprayed it had no ill effects from it. A year later she was wondering why her dogs were lethargic and their teeth falling out. She is also now ill. I'm not qualified to even hint there is a connection between the herbicide and what is happening to her and her dogs. What I would like to see is people being informed and making their own decisions. One man even drank a glass of it to show it was okay. We don't know what happened to him a year later though. Antifreeze is poison, 2,4-D is toxic, I think there is a difference. I also think you have made excellent points and that what you wrote will help people make a decision. Thank you for your comments. It is through discussion that we can learn and make better more informed decisions.

T BRANDT
12/3/2011 1:21:49 PM
I like your introduction. You're keeping an open mind. Remember that there are no toxins, only toxic doses. Some water is good for you; too much water is bad for you. Nothing is perfectly safe. We also have to do risk/benefit analysis. You would never drive your car over a bridge built only to the safety standards of aircraft construction. Chemotherapy drugs are poisons used only when the risks of treating outweight the risks of witholding. The toxicity of 2,4-D in an acute, large exposure is similar to that from an acute large exposure to car antifreeze (actually, the 2,4-D is less toxic)- kidney/metabolic effects, eye/lung irritation. It's the chronic, low dose exposure of 2,4-D from our food that needs to be evaluated-- and that's such a small amount, apparently, that the effects are not obvious. If those effects actually exist, they are so small that the benefits of using the chemical in commercially producing our food outweighs the risk to me-- maybe not to somebody else. It's a value judgement.

BRUCE MCELMURRAY
12/3/2011 12:55:53 AM
Adam: Thank you for actually taking the time to look into this product. I'm very impressed that you took time to verify what I posted. The more I read the more I became concerned. When you Google 2,4-D you get almost 3 million items. You have my sincere admiration for checking this product out. You are rare indeed to not take my word and check the facts yourself. I wish more people would do what you did. I go back a few years and when I was young they used to spray for mosquitoes with DDT. It would come into your home and smell for days. You would breathe it. Just about the time it dispersed they would fog again. They knew it wasn't safe for humans and animals but it wasn't until they discovered that it was killing eagles by making their eggs to fragile for the baby eagles to hatch. That is when they banned it. It will probably be the same with 2,4-D.

ADAM SWENSON
12/2/2011 9:22:02 PM
I went looking for some heavy duty reading material on the subject thanks to your article. I had no idea 2,4-D was so widely used or studied. Seeing some of the studies' conclusions makes me wonder why it hasn't been banned yet... and why it was ever approved, and given the studies are generally 2 years or less what does a lifetime of exposure do? If this isn't bad enough, how bad would it have to be before we didn't use it? http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/pesticide/pdfs/093006_24d.pdf PS Page 180 was fascinating. Maybe I'll use it when deciding where to move to.







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