Roundup is the most widely-used pesticide in the world, and its wide use has lead to accusations that its active ingredient glyphosate could lead to serious diseases in those who are exposed to it for long periods, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma or NHL. (The-scientist.com).
Research has been conducted to determine which workers have the greatest risk of Roundup exposure, and potentially, NHL and other cancers. Generally, people who work in farming and agriculture have the highest chance of being exposed to Roundup, and, potentially, developing cancer.
Results from the Farm Family Exposure Study
A study was conducted by the CDC in 2004 entitled ‘Glyphosate Monitoring for Farmers and Their Families: Results from the Farm Family Exposure Study.’ (CDC.gov). The study showed that farmers and their families that were exposed to glyphosate had higher levels of the chemical in their urine. The study did not look at the cancer rates for these individuals, but it is noteworthy that farmers exposed to the chemical showed higher levels in their bodies.
Specifically, the CDC did an evaluation of concentration levels of urinary glyphosate for 50 farmers, their spouses and 79 children who ranged from four to 18 years old. The study evaluated urine samples for each member of the family for a 24 hour period the day before, day of and for 72 hours of an application of glyphosate.
This study found that 60% of farmers had levels of the weedkiller in their urine on the day the substance was applied. The geometric mean concentration was 3 PPB and the top value was 233 PPB. Farmers who did not use gloves when they applied Roundup had a higher concentration of the substance in their urine than other farmers did; it was 10 PPB vs. 2.0 PPB. For the spouses, 4% had levels of detectable glyphosate on the day Roundup was applied.
For children, 12% had glyphosate that was detectable in their urine on the day it was applied. The maximum concentration was 29 PPB. All but one child with a detectable concentration had assisted with the application or were there when the Roundup was applied, loaded or mixed. It should be noted that none of the doses that were seen in this study were close to the EPA reference dose of 2 mg per day. But it is clear that farmers and their spouses and children face higher exposure to pesticides. This study did confirm this, and also showed how certain practices can be used to reduce the possibility of exposure.
Former Groundskeeper Receives $289 Million Verdict for His Cancer
Many workers in farming and agriculture have filed lawsuits against Monsanto in recent years, arguing that their cancer was caused by Roundup exposure.
Probably the most well-known lawsuit involved a former groundskeeper in San Francisco named Dewayne Johnson. In August 2018, a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay Johnson $289 million who got non-Hodgkins lymphoma after he used Roundup for several years in his work. (USAToday.com)
The jury deliberated for three days before it found that Johnson’s lymphoma was at least partially because of using glyphosate, the major ingredient in Roundup. He regularly sprayed athletic fields with Roundup as a groundskeeper.
According to the judge on the case, Monsanto acted with oppression, malice and fraud and should be punished for the conduct. On the other hand, Monsanto stated after the verdict that it would appeal. The company noted that it would continue to defend Roundup, which has been used for decades by farmers and agriculture workers safely.
Since the $289 million verdict was made public last year, hundreds of lawsuits that claim Roundup causes cancer got the green light to go to trial, even though Monsanto continues to claim there is no connection between cancer and exposure to glyphosate.
Monsanto Allegedly Knew of Roundup’s Risks
Cancer victims that have been filing lawsuits around the country argue that the company knew about the risks of glyphosate to agriculture workers and farmers for years but did not warn workers or consumers. US District Judge Vince Chhabria had said earlier in the year that the evidence that glyphosate causes cancer was somewhat weak, but he also noted that three expert opinions that linked glyphosate to NHL did not constitute junk science.
In Johnson’s case, the former groundskeeper’s doctors have said that he probably would not live past 2020. The 46 year old was employed by a California county school system for several years, and he applied Roundup as many as 30 times in his work in pest control. During the trial, it was revealed that Johnson mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of glyphosate over several years.
How To Protect Yourself from Roundup Exposure
If you are a worker with a higher risk of Roundup exposure, such as a farmer, groundskeeper or other type of agriculture worker, there are several steps you can take to reduce the chances of being exposed to the harmful herbicide: (Yourgreenpal.com).
- Eyes: It is essential to wear protective goggles or safety glasses when you are spraying or mixing Roundup. Spray that comes into your eyes can lead to irritation and redness, and you could suffer other possible health problems down the road.
- Skin: Roundup exposure through the skin over time can be problematic, so it is recommended that you protect your skin from Roundup exposure by wearing closed-toe shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirt. Also, it is recommended to wear tough rubber gloves to protect your hands.
- Respiratory protection: Respiratory protection is not usually required when you use Roundup, according to the label guidelines. But there is no doubt that breathing in Roundup mist or vapor can lead to irritation of your respiratory tract. Using a respirator or facemask on the job with Roundup can reduce the possibility of being harmed in any way by the herbicide.
If you are a workers in farming or agriculture and have developed cancer after using Roundup, it is recommended to speak to a qualified Roundup personal injury attorney in your area. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
- How Toxic Is the World’s Most Popular Herbicide Roundup? (2015). Retrieved from https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/how-toxic-is-the-worlds-most-popular-herbicide-roundup-30308
- The Complete Guide to Roundup Exposure – Are You At Risk? (2016). Retrieved from https://www.yourgreenpal.com/blog/the-complete-guide-to-roundup-exposure-are-you-at-risk
- Jury Orders Monsanto to Pay $289 Million in Cancer Lawsuit. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/08/10/jury-orders-monsanto-pay-289-million-cancer-patient-roundup-lawsuit/962297002/
- Glyphosate Biomonitoring for Farmers and Their Families: Results from the Farm Family Exposure Study. (2012). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/20037510.html