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Old 07-04-2010, 02:43 PM
1,446 posts, read 4,432,660 times
Reputation: 989


A few years ago, I used a weed killer on my lawn. I did not use a mask or gloves because it was suppossed to be non-toxic. I simply attached the weed killer to my hose and sprayed. It killed the weeds but not the grass. However, someone was telling me that weed killers are carcinogenic. They told me I should have used more protection especially after doing my entire backyard. Hence, if something is said to be non-toxic doesn't that mean it is safe from causing cancer? How do I know if something is non-carcinogenic? I have a history of cancer in my family along with a number of benign tumors in myself. I want to kill the weeds that are growing all over my backyard, but i really want a weed killer that is safe. I want to know what everyone's opinion is on how really safe these weed killers really are.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:01 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,499 posts, read 51,540,411 times
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I don't know that anybody can assure you about any chemical being safe or not. As a matter of fact we all know just about everything, plastic, water, food, soda, household products, polyester, etc can be linked by some degree to cancer today.

I try to use masks when I use garden chamicals as I'm around them alot but I don't worry too much about it. My understanding is that it is the repeated use of some agents which can make you sick. I doubt 1 time of applying something to your yard would cause cancer.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:29 PM
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Non toxic is not the same as non-carcinogenic, but most people think they are the same. Toxic refers to poisons, many of which will sicken or kill you immediately, or within a short time, whereas carcinogens are likely to cause cancer at some future point. Sometimes a toxic chemical is also a carcinogen (it makes you sick now and later). As a general rule of thumb if a chemical is designed to kill something chances are it can possibly cause you harm, especially pesticides. Herbicides are less likely to do so, but there have been too many chemicals released to the public with problems only found after they have been used for a longer time.

If you need to spray any chemical at the very least you should be wearing gloves and you and your clothes will need to be washed.

There are organic and relatively safe sprays on the market but an old standby may be the safest bet if you have any worries. Buy the biggest sized white vinegar you can get at the grocery store, put it in a spray bottle and spray each weed with some. This generally will take several applications (hence getting a big bottle of it) and is best done when it is dry and sunny but if you persist the acidity seems to be enough to kill many green things. Very few people have problems with vinegar but try to avoid breathing it in by standing upwind when you spray. Be careful not to spray plants you want, as well as any grass nearby. Usually normal watering or a good soaking rain will dilute the vinegar so there usually are no residual issues.
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Old 07-06-2010, 07:56 AM
Location: Newport, NC
955 posts, read 3,938,433 times
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As long as you use weed killers per label instructions, you should not have any problems. The label will tell you if the chemical kills weeds and not grass, it will tell what rate to apply, it will tell you what type of clothing to wear, it will tell you about safety precautions (for example, don't smoke while applying). The instructions on the label are very specific - they are required by law. For your part, you are required by law to read and understand the label and to apply only per label instructions.
Lawn chemicals are extensively tested and regulated. Most exposure comes from misapplication and carelessness. Any chemical including vinegar, table salt, aspirin, etc. can cause problems if misused.
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Old 07-06-2010, 09:26 AM
Location: New Mexico
433 posts, read 1,104,602 times
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Boiling water will also kill some weeds. There are some weeds that I think the only thing that works is pulling. I know it's time consuming but it's better than the chemicals. Even if someone says the chemicals don't cause problems when used properly they are still in the soil and sometimes work their way down to water supplies. When I lived in Illinois I was often sick because of the chemicals the farmers used on their fields. It would start when they began spraying whatever(pesticides, herbicides, etc) and I would be miserable for months. I never had those problems until I moved there and now that I am gone I don't have them anymore.
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:02 AM
Location: Newport, NC
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A perfect example of chemicals being misused! I may alienate some farmers, but next to home owners who have no business using chemicals, many farmers don't have a clue when it comes to chemicals.
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