Herbicides, water quality and what you can do

Sound Consumer | September 2001

"There is a very strong perception that we live in a state rich in clean, abundant water. This perception is simply not accurate." — Washington Department of Ecology

While industrial polluters may be the biggest culprits in contaminating our waterways, another large source of poisons in the Puget Sound watershed is runoff from individual lawns and gardens. "Weed and feed" fertilizers, for example, routinely include 2,4-D, an herbicide containing five dioxins and famous as a main component of Agent Orange.

Another weed killer, Roundup™ (glyphosate) has been touted as benign to people, pets, and waterways, a claim that forced its manufacturer, Monsanto, to court twice to stop such false advertising. Lab studies find Roundup has adverse effects in all categories of toxicology testing, including genetic damage in human blood cells, effects on reproduction, and cancer.

In studies of people, mostly farmers, glyphosate is linked to increased miscarriages, premature birth, and the cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It has been found in local waterways such as Mercer Creek in Bellevue. It reduces populations of beneficial insects, birds, and small mammals by destroying vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter.

If you don't like weeds in your yard, eradicate them by hand or use alternative herbicides such as a flameweeder, boiling salt water, or concentrated vinegar to change the pH level of the soil. Consumers also can get involved with projects that make a difference right away.

Make a difference for water quality
This fall, PCC Natural Markets is collaborating with local environmental groups and our vendor, Tom's of Maine, to improve the health of our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Together, we're involved in five events. Join us to protect our watersheds.

PCC will provide light refreshments such as coffee, drinks, and snacks. Tools and gloves will be provided in most cases. All you need to do is come dressed for the weather! To participate, talk to the member service specialist at the store listed. For a list of store phone numbers, addresses and email, go to PCC store locations.

Greenlake and Fremont: Clean-up Pipers Creek in Carkeek Park, replacing invasive plants with mulch and creekside plantings. Saturday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine.

West Seattle: Join a work party with the Friends of Schmitz Park on Saturday, September 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The day will be spent in an old growth forest removing invasive, non-native plants from Schmitz Creek and replacing them with native plants salvaged from development.

View Ridge: Two non-profit groups, Citizens for a Livable Northgate and Thornton Creek Legal Defense Fund, are holding an open forum to help "daylight" Thornton Creek at Northgate. Seattle City Council member Nick Licata will speak, along with citizen groups, urban planners, scientists, and elected officials. Join them Monday, October 1 at the Nathan Hale High School cafeteria from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Seward Park: The Friends of Seward Park are planting 100 trees along Lake Washington to replace old ones that are damaged. Fish need shade along the lakeshore to thrive. The trees also will benefit walkers and bikers. The planting starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 27, rain or shine. Issaquah: On Saturday, October 20th, join other Issaquah members who'll plant trees and clear invasive plants along the shores of Lake Sammamish. Details will be available in early October at PCC Issaquah.

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