TIME Environmental Health

Potent New Weed-Killer Could Be Sprayed Near Schools, Says Environmental Group

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering approval of a new herbicide that could pose health risks to school children, says the Environmental Working Group

The EPA is open to public comments until June 30 about approving Enlist Duo, a new combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular RoundUp weed killer. A majority of soybean and corn crops are now resistant to glyphosate alone, which is why Dow AgroSciences created the new formulation, designed to work on genetically modified seeds the company has developed that are supposed to be more resistant to weed growth.

But in a new analysis, EWG says more than 5,000 schools are located within 200 feet of fields that could potentially be sprayed with the chemical, if it’s approved. According to the environmental advocacy group, the compounds in Enlist Duo have been linked to harmful health effects, including immune and reproductive issues as well as certain cancers and Parkinson’s disease. EWG says the EPA analysis of the herbicide doesn’t sufficiently consider the potential health harms, especially if inhaled, which would be the primary way people would be exposed to it. The agency, for its part, says it “confirmed the safety of the use for the public, agricultural workers and non-target species.”

In its analysis, EWG found that Michigan contains the highest number of schools—658—located within 200 feet of corn and soybean crops that could be sprayed with Enlist Duo, followed by Missouri, South Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. For an interactive map of schools within 1000 feet of such fields, click here.

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