Toxic review

BAYSWATER council is reviewing its use of glyphosate after a number of US employees claiming they got cancer from the weedkiller won court cases.

Councillor Lorna Clarke successfully moved a notice of motion to get clarity on how glyphosate/Roundup is used by city workers, and has asked staff to develop options to “eliminate or significantly reduce” its use.

Staff will prepare a report by November 30.

She said at the May 28 council meeting; “I’ve had a number of local residents raise it with me,” including someone who noticed a council sign stating glyphosate had been sprayed near a community garden where kids were playing.

Cr Clarke said the science is not definitive and the cases in the US are under appeal, but she notes “often the litigation strategy has been to appeal permanently. We’ve seen that in historic cases with asbestos and tobacco products”.

Carcinogenic

She said there are some organisations that believe it’s safe, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer has said there’s a probability of it being carcinogenic.

Risk factors include how often its used, how long its used, dilution levels and whether safe practices are observed and safety equipment used.

Cr Catherine Ehrhardt noted the “probable carcinogen” classification referred to also included red meat, and alcohol was listed as more of a cancer risk, but she supported looking at how glyphosate was used.

Other possible weeding methods include brush cutting, hand weeding and steam, but they cost more.

South Perth council stopped using glyphosate in August last year following community concerns about its safety.

They now use steam weeding and pelargonic acid, a herbicide naturally present in plants that is considered low risk but can be an irritant in high concentrations. Vincent council still uses “limited” amounts of glyphosate, and pelargonic acid where possible.

by DAVID BELL

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