From: Austin Fenner, Daily News
Published July 28, 2005 12:00 AM

New York City Parks Hit on Weed Spraying

NEW YORK, N.Y. — When Connie Lesold stepped out of her car on Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway, she got a nauseating whiff of weed killer.

"I knew they had sprayed," Lesold, 67, said. "You can smell it."

Lesold and other environmental activists want the Parks Department to stop using herbicides on the city's 29,000 acres of parkland.

They fear the herbicides cause cancer, and they want the Parks Department to pull weeds the old-fashioned way -- by hand -- or use organic treatments.

Mitchel Cohen, head of the No Spray Coalition, said Lesold's experience is not uncommon.


"We have gotten hundreds of calls from people who have become sick," Cohen said.

The Parks Department has no plans to stop using the herbicide RoundUp, said spokesman Liam Kavanagh.

"You have to use it cautiously and judiciously," he said, adding that signs are posted after spraying. "Our staff is trained in the use of [herbicides]."

St. Louis-based chemical company Monsanto, which makes RoundUp, defends the product, which works by starving certain amino acids that occur in plants.

"It has a long history of safe use," said Dr. Daniel Goldstein, a Monsanto spokesman. "It has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization."

Dr. Maida Galvez, a pediatrician at the Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit said that the herbicide hasn't been shown to be harmful, but said more research is needed.

"What we are lacking is long-term studies examining low-level exposures, and their health effects, especially in children," said Galvez, who recommended using non-chemical alternatives.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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