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killex herbicide kills babies
The article below deals with the impact of low level phenoxy herbicide
mixtures (killex) containing 2,4-D, methoprop and dicamba on
reproduction. The herbicide exposure caused abortion in the mice at
levels well below those allowed in drinking water. Last year an Ontario
study( Environ Health Perspect 109:851-857 (2001) An Exploratory
Analysis of the Effect of Pesticide Exposure on the Risk of Spontaneous
Abortion in an Ontario Farm Population
Tye E. Arbuckle, Zhiqiu Lin, and Leslie S. Mery) showed that women
experienced a greater risk of early abortion from 2,4-D exposure and
earlier studies showed that children had significant 2,4-D levels in
urine after playing on lawns sprayed with the herbicide. It may be that
EPA will be more impressed with the impact of herbicides on mice than on
people but the advocates of herbicides in government bureaucracy seem
unconcerned over either. 2,4-D was developed as a chemical warfare agent
in WWII and planned to be used against the rice harvest in Japan, but
the war ended before the toxins were delivered. There may be a lesson
here about the specious safety claims on the safety of GM crops by
academe and government bureaucrats because both have repeatedly and
aggressively promoted the superstition that herbicides are safe.
Study Links Weed Killer to Reproductive Problems
Science: Tests on mice reveal an increase in failed pregnancies,
By EMILY GREEN
TIMES STAFF WRITER
September 17 2002
A cocktail of the three most common herbicides used by about 29 million
American households to kill dandelions may reduce fertility and cause
miscarriages, according to a study published today in the toxicology
journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The results come as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to
review the licensing of one of the chemicals, now used in more than
1,500 lawn- care and agricultural products.
In the study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the
University of Valparaiso in Chile spiked the drinking water of
laboratory mice with weed killer, then charted the animals' reproductive
rates. They found a 20% increase in failed pregnancies at extremely low
doses seven times lower than the maximum allowable rate for U.S.
University of Wisconsin toxicologist Warren Porter said his group
deliberately selected the sort of weed killer most commonly employed by
American homeowners on their lawns. He would not name the brand, other
than to say: "We bought it in a hardware store."
He does, however, name the active ingredients: a mix of three "phenoxy
herbicides" called 2,4-D, dicamba and mecoprop. Typically blended
together into weed killers and "weed and feed" products, they kill
broadleaf plants such as dandelions while sparing grass.
They work by confounding the hormone system of the broadleaf plants,
causing them to choke their nutrient and water channels with their own
The Scott and Dow Chemical Cos. were among the first to market 2,4-D in
a host of weed killers and weed-and-feed formulations immediately after
World War II. Since then, they have been formulated in more than 1,500
products made by scores of companies. Most of these are over-the-counter
products and will contain, in addition to the herbicides, industrial
soaps to help the chemical cling to and then penetrate the plants.
Trials scrutinizing the safety of the products have typically only
looked at the herbicides singly and have shown the chemicals to have
either low, or no, toxicity. In the last 10 years, the pesticide
industry has spent $30 million on 2,4-D toxicity trials.
North Carolina agronomist Don Page, who represents the leading suppliers
of the chemical in the U.S., has presented to the EPA 270 safety studies
sponsored by his clients. He believes the chemical and products
containing it are safe.
"The only verified examples of 2,4-D poisoning in humans is in suicides.
If you drink enough of it, you can kill yourself," he said in June. He
declined to comment on the latest study.
However, since the late 1970s, independent studies of crop workers in
Europe and Kansas have suggested that pesticide applicators working
heavily with products containing 2,4-D had higher rates of non-Hodgkins
In the mid-1990s, University of Minnesota pathologist Vincent Garry
conducted studies in wheat, sugar beet and potato farming regions and
found twice the rate of birth defects among children of crop workers who
conceived the children during the months when the pesticide 2,4-D was
Garry began to suspect that the reason the chemicals looked safe in
trials conducted for the government regulators is because the labs were
using pure 2,4-D, while crop workers were handling an enhanced chemical
blend. Porter suspected the same thing. Designing the Wisconsin study,
he set out to examine the toxicity of the mix as sold over the counter,
not the single herbicides tested for the EPA.
"We have no idea what kind of reactions might be going on once these
active ingredients are formulated into products," he said. "You're
talking about putting a lot of very reactive chemicals together in a
mix, and storing it at room temperature."
From Minnesota, Garry praised the choice to use the commercial mix. "It
brings up the notion that it is the commercial-grade product that people
are exposed to, and these need to be studied," he said. He added that he
would like to see further tests to confirm the radical effects of such
Oakland research scientist Robert Gunier, an epidemiologist who has
studied the effects of pesticides for the California Department of
Health Services, praised the Wisconsin study for looking at such low
doses. Most testing is done at extremely high doses, he said. "I think
it really raises some important issues about how regulatory testing is
Spurred by the Kansas cancer study and Garry's work in Minnesota, the
EPA is now reviewing the safety literature of 2,4-D and expects a
decision on the status of the chemical in 2004.
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