I have been amazed for years by the perception of the public to the toxic chemicals that are sold as common garden herbicides. What prompted this letter is the letter to the editor that Jacob Hilger, the Coast Reforestation Manager for Stimson Lumber Company, wrote a few weeks ago. His nonchalant attitude about the use of pesticides and herbicides again appalled me. Roundup is probably the main herbicide that the county uses to spray the sides of our roads. The smell is unmistakable.
There was a case just ended against Monsanto that claims that Round-up has caused cancer to a number of individuals. The class action suit was just settled for $10 billion dollars. It is for this purpose that many people put “no spray” signs in front of their property. When we first moved onto our property, the person that took care of the roads in our community would spray Round-up from the back of his pickup with no mask. I quickly informed him of the health hazards of doing this, both to himself and his the driver besides having the spray drift over our property.
Now for the spraying of our forests that Jacob also believes is harmless since spraying is so pervasive in our community. I was able to get the list of chemicals used from the FERNS website. FERNS is the agency used by the timber companies to keep track of when and where logging happens, and when spray will be applied and what the chemicals are. These chemicals are used to kill all living plants and animals so that the trees they plant will no competition while they grow. (There are other more sustainable ways to farm a new crop of trees as used in other places in the US.)
A part of the M.O.U. that was reached between the forest industry and local community/state environmental non-profits was voted on in our last Oregon State special session. It states that the timber industry must warn local citizens when they will be spraying. I would like to finish this letter by telling you the chemicals used and the side-effects of each of these chemicals(I googled these chemicals to find out their hazardous effects):
Glysophate: the main cancer causing chemical in Round-up as mentioned above.
Imazapyr: Imazapyr is corrosive to eyes and can cause irreversible damage.
Metsulfuron methyl: Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.
Sulfometuron methyl: Serious eye damage/eye irritation - Category 2, Respiratory sensitization - Category 2B, Specific target organ toxicity - Single exposure - Category 2, Hazardous to the aquatic environment (Long-term) - Category 1.
Aminopyralid: Aminopyralid (marketed as Milestone™, Chaparral™, and Opensight™), is an auxinic growth regulator herbicide and will cause damage to sensitive broadleaf plants such as tomato, lettuce, beans and peas. Impacted plants will usually not die when exposed to low residue amounts in compost, but will produce few quality fruits or no fruits.
Clopyralid: also causes injury to the eyes. It is still being sold in the U.S. but is banned in the UK.
As a closing thought, I have heard that the people doing the hand spraying near communities have no protection. I hope this is not true.