This week, the media has been abuzz with news about glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed control, as a likely carcinogen, dangerous to pets and people alike. A World Health Organization agency declared that the herbicide has the potential to cause cancer in humans, which has gotten more people thinking about the safety (or lack thereof!) of conventional pesticides.
With glyphosate such a hot topic, we thought this was a good time to outline the uses and dangers of 5 conventional pesticides with potential carcinogenic effects that have recently been called out in the media:
The World Health Organization research agency cited studies of people exposed to glyphosate in the US, Canada and Sweden and found “increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” This was the first time the agency identified this chemical as a possible carcinogen, which is a pretty big deal considering it’s the most-used herbicide in the country. GMO soybeans and corn can withstand higher uses of it, so farmers have been using more and more of the product in recent years.
Another possible carcinogen, malathion is used for insect control in agriculture and in residential homes. People can be exposed from using the chemical directly or from eating food that’s been grown with it. Studies dating back over a decade have hinted that this chemical could possibly cause cancer, but the limited evidence has kept the classification from going official.
The conventional pesticide diazinon is used more rarely in agriculture and in homes because it has been restricted in both the US and Europe. While the EPA has not classified diazinon as a carcinogen, even studies conducted as far back as the 90s have shown correlation between parental use of diazinon and brain cancer in children.
Tetrachlorvinphos has higher evidence of a cancer-causing effect in animals, and has therefore been given a slightly stronger designation as a possible carcinogen. It’s also the last organophosphate conventional pesticide allowed for use in pet products in the US (like conventional flea & tick sprays), as others have been outlawed. In addition to likely being a carcinogen, the conventional pesticide shows evidence of causing nervous system toxicity and is a suspected hormone disruptor. It’s been banned in the European Union.
Parathion is one of the most toxic conventional pesticides registered by the EPA and as such is also designated as a more likely carcinogen like tetrachlorvinphos. It’s actually been banned in both the US and Europe since 2003. To think that only a decade ago, the toxin was allowed for use as a conventional pesticide makes you wonder which of the “safe” alternatives will next be proven toxic.
While none of these classifications will show up on product labels, it’s important to keep yourself informed of the health hazards posed by many of the conventional pesticides used throughout the country. When you know more about the scientific evidence of their dangers, you’re better equipped to make smart decisions about what products to use in your own life. A great place to start is using natural pest control like Wondercide and to eat organic whenever possible.