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Residents speak out against local officials for spraying hazardous herbicides making them ill: 'We just need to stop'

"The risk outweighs the benefits."

"The risk outweighs the benefits."

Photo Credit: iStock

While herbicides are a fast way to get rid of weeds, they also come with a host of health concerns. 

Many chemicals that have been widely used for decades are coming under closer scrutiny now as the public becomes aware of the risks of exposure. For example, the Aliso Viejo community in California is pushing back against chemical herbicides in public areas like the local park, KTLA reports.

What's happening?

The city of Aliso Viejo recently sprayed an herbicide called Cheetah Pro in the local Canyon View Park for weed control. Cheetah Pro contains glufosinate, which the World Health Organization rates as more hazardous than the better-known glyphosate, which is found in Roundup.

The Aliso Viejo Community Association also maintains hundreds of acres of public land in the city and likely uses Cheetah Pro or similar chemicals on them, too.

According to KTLA, Aliso Viejo residents claim that the herbicides sprayed in their neighborhoods are making them sick. Residents complain of rashes, fatigue, and headaches and say that their pets are being affected as well.

"I actually had a toxins test done and it was very clear the herbicides were extremely high in my system and was causing my illness," Carolyn McCuan, an Aliso Viejo resident, told KTLA.

McCuan's test results showed a higher concentration of glyphosate in her urine than 95% of women her age. Her property backs onto Canyon View Park.

"The landscaper's workmen were actually spraying the herbicide right up to my fence," another resident, Melissa Christian, told KTLA.

Why does this pesticide use matter?

Like many herbicides, Cheetah Pro is toxic and can irritate the skin and eyes. Too much exposure is dangerous. There are also potentially dangerous long-term effects; in lab tests using animals, too much of this herbicide over time was often fatal.

The AVCA maintains that its herbicide usage is at legal levels.

"AVCA has at all times met or exceeded all applicable state and federal laws for pesticide use," the association said in a statement. "AVCA's board and staff have collectively spent thousands of hours studying this topic and working with expert consultants to find alternatives that are effective, legal, safe and affordable."

However, that doesn't mean that residents aren't feeling the effects.

What could the AVCA do instead?

McCuan and other residents have formed Toxic-Free OC, a group dedicated to ending herbicide use in their city. "The risk outweighs the benefits," McCuan said. "We just need to stop. It's 2024, let's do better."

As a safe and eco-friendly alternative, the city could try bringing in goats to keep the greenery in check.

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