Youâ€™ve got a thriving garden. Your tomatoes are lush and full, your bell peppers are sprouting under the summer sun. Youâ€™ve even had some success in companion planting to control unwanted insects and pest. But you have one problem that wonâ€™t seem to go away: Weeds.
You might contemplate using an herbicide to control those pesky plants. After all, if you donâ€™t control them, they can choke out your garden plants. But what are the risks of using chemical herbicides? Years of studies have proven that they might not be as safe as youâ€™d like to think.
Atrazine is one of the most widely-used herbicides in the United States. Home owners commonly use it on their lawns and gardens to keep weeds at bay, but the Environmental Protection Agency has noted that even at small doses, it can affect male fertility, cause prostate inflammation and even delay puberty. It is also linked to birth defects and immune deficiencies. It is considered so dangerous, that the European Union has banned it.
The herbicide Glyphosate is used in one of the most popular herbicides in the United States: Roundup. Originally sold in 1974, demand for the product has grown by leaps and bounds throughout the years, especially since the introduction of genetically modified crops. In fact, some agribusinesses have created â€œRoundup readyâ€ genetically modified crops so that the herbicide wonâ€™t kill them. The fact is, even if your garden crops are not killed by this, the herbicide remains on the plant, which absorbs it. Washing your fruits and vegetables before eating may not help, as the herbicide gets inside the plant itself. Glyphosate can damage sex hormones in small doses, increased cancer risk, fertility problems and immune system damage.
Dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate, or Dacthal, is commonly used to control crab grasses and weeks in home gardens and nursery stock. Itâ€™s been in use since 1958 but the EPA never completed testing on it. Because of this, no one can say for sure what level of exposure is safe for this herbicide. However, exposure to it is linked with liver problems, adrenal gland problems, cancer, immune system damage, spleen and thyroid problems. The chemical has a long half-life, so even if you stop using it, it remains in the soil for years.
Other herbicides you want to steer clear of are 2,4-D (also known as dioxin or Agent Orange), clopyralid, dicamba, dichlobenil (one of the most toxic herbicides to nasal tissue), diuron, glufosinate, impazapic, impazapyr, mecoprop, oryzalen and picloram. All synthetic chemicals carry with them some form of risk, and therefore, it is important that you understand exactly what you will get before you buy it.
The best and safest way to control unwanted plants in your garden is to manually remove weeds, mulch and organic herbicides. If you choose the organic herbicide route might contain lemon juice or vinegar.
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