Bernalillo County considers getting rid of herbicide chemical linked to cancer

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Crews spray herbicide around Bernalillo County every year — everything from parks to medians to community centers all get treated with a chemical that’s been linked to cancer.

Now, county commissioners are looking for a new, environmentally-friendly option.

Residents are concerned for their health and say there has to be another way to get rid of weeds without putting people at risk. 

Albuquerque farmer Lanny Tonning says there are certain chemicals you should just keep away from any plants or crops.

“Nations all over the world have banned glyphosate for good reason,” Tonning says.

Now, Bernalillo County commissioners are working to make its use of glyphosate, a chemical that’s been linked to cancer and an active ingredient in Roundup, a thing of the past.  

“We don’t want to be a part of that, we don’t want to be apart of some environmental catastrophe,” says Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins. 

A California man who contracted cancer was recently awarded millions by a judge after he sued the maker of Roundup. 

Earlier this month, one Bernalillo County resident brought a petition with 500 signatures, urging county land crews to stop using the chemical and find a safer way to attack weeds.  

“It’s sprayed at senior centers, little league fields, parks, trails, open space,” she said. 

“There are some ideas on how to minimize the use of something like this,” says Commissioner Debbie O’Malley.

Last year, the county spent $12,000 on the chemical. If the resolution is approved Tuesday, county officials say they will begin to look for non-toxic ways to target weeds and other pests. 

They haven’t said specifically what they plan to use. 

“Bernalillo County has a responsibility to maintain these properties in a way that is safe. Both for users but safe for the environment. We want to make sure as the Bernalillo County properties we maintain that we’re not doing more damage than good,” says Hart Stebbins. 

The county does use some herbicides that don’t contain the chemical, but they are hoping to eliminate it all together.

Read: Study: Traces of weed-killing chemical found in several children’s breakfast foods

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