Recently Glyphosate (which was originally sold under the brand name Round Up) has been in the news. The ABC reported that Local councils are still using the weed killer glyphosate, despite the WHO warning it “probably causes cancer”.
Last year the International Agency for research on Cancer upgraded its assessment on the pesticide. The pesticide was previously assessed as “possibly” causing cancer to “probably causing cancer”
Residents in some local council areas in Victoria have taken steps to ask their local councils to stop using glyphosate-based pesticide. This prompted ITC to review the Lane Cove Council’s Pesticide Notification Plan. This review revealed that the Lane Cove Council does use glyphosate to control weeds in Lane Cove.
We asked the Lane Cove Council to comment on the use of glyphosate in Lane Cove and in particular if the pesticide was used near playgrounds. This is the response we received.
Like the majority of Councils Australia-wide, Lane Cove does use Glyphosate within park areas within our municipality however within Lane Cove we use this in conjunction with other non-chemical techniques. For example, we hand-weed wherever possible in our parks and bushland and council recycles its trees into woodchips which are often used to suppress weed growth in parks and reserves, minimising the need for alternate weed control. Its use does include playground areas.
If the area is being sprayed there is on-site signage at the time of spraying. Staff are trained in ChemCert and wear Personal Protective Equipment while using it. It is our understanding that the chemical breaks down quickly into the area that has been spot-sprayed and as a result there have been no immediate safety concerns for people or animals.
Glyphosate currently rates as a low toxicity herbicide that is also commonly purchased over the counter and used by the home gardener. For clarification, council doesn’t use Round Up but what it does use has glyphosate in it.
Lane Cove will continue to explore alternative weed control options to herbicide. We are currently interested in the usage of a steam weed control system which has been trialled within inner city councils in Melbourne and has been made more compact which could suit use over a wider range of areas. The challenge is that there is currently nothing on the market that is a direct alternate so council welcomes any emerging technologies to reduce the use of herbicide.
If you are concerned, you should make sure you look for any pesticide notification signs when entering a park in Lane Cove. Notices are placed at the entrances to Lane Cove parks on the day of spraying, immediately prior to the pesticide application, and remain in place until the park is reopened for public use later that day. The public is requested not to use the parks on the day that the pesticide is applied.
You should also keep track of Council’s use of Pesticides if you have an animal. For example, North Sydney Councils will be using a pesticide known as RHDV, a biological control agent registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to control feral rabbits. If you own a bunny (and we know many Lane Cove residents own bunnies as we see a few of them on our lost and found page), be aware that a feral rabbit control program will commence in Northern Sydney between mid-April to Late May 2016 as a release of rabbit calicivirus. Pet rabbits can be affected by this as it is spread by insects (mosquitoes, flies, fleas), direct contact between rabbits and predator faeces (dogs, cats, foxes).
For best protection, pet rabbits should be vaccinated prior to the 28th of February 2016. You should call your vet to book an appointment.