The safest herbicide (weed killer) is manual removal—using a trowel, shovel, or hoe to remove weeds by their roots, according to the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This method does not require any chemicals or substances, both natural and artificial, and can eliminate current weeds and discourage new weed growth in certain plants.
If you have a large area with weeds, pulling weeds by hand may not be the best option. There are other safe ways to control and eliminate pesky weeds from your lawn or garden. For example, you could spray vinegar, which contains acetic acid, to “burn” your weeds in a relatively safe manner. You may also want to contact your state or local horticultural agency for specific guidance in your area.
Safer Alternatives to Roundup
Roundup contains glyphosate, a substance that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified as a carcinogen (a cancer-causing product). The makers of Roundup have lost several high-profile lawsuits to plaintiffs who allege that their regular use of the herbicide caused them to develop cancer.
If you or a loved one seek safer alternatives to Roundup, you can try the following suggestions.
Flame, Steam, or Hot Foam
You do not actually have to set weeds on fire to kill them using a flame weeder. Most weeds only need brief exposure to the intense heat from the flame to wither and die. This method is effective in hard-to-reach areas, such as cracks in the driveway or sidewalk. However, flame weeding is risky, and you should not use this method in conditions that are conducive to brush or wildfires.
You can also rent commercial steam or hot foam machines to eliminate weeds. The heat wilts the weed’s tissues without the need for any other herbicide. A cheaper alternative that is handy for small gardens or areas is to pour boiling water directly on the weeds.
Your local gardening center probably sells many herbicides approved by the Organic Material Review Institute (ORMI). These products may contain fatty acids, acetic acid (vinegar), or natural plant oils.
Some of the more popular brand names for these herbicides include:
- Weed Pharm
The North Carolina Agricultural Extension website recommends that you identify what type of weeds need to be eliminated. For example, thistles may respond to one kind of ORMI herbicide, but it may not affect goldenrod.
Natural Plant Oils
You can fight some weeds with natural plant oils sold in garden centers and natural food or supplement stores. The most effective plant oils include citric, clove, cinnamon, and peppermint.
Common Household Items
Sometimes, everyday household items such as vinegar, liquid dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and table salt make the best herbicides. You can pour or spray one cup of vinegar onto leaves. You can also use salt water to destroy weeds. Mix one tablespoon of table salt for every cup of warm water. For an effective herbicide mixture, combine vinegar, salt, and liquid dish soap, then spray on leaves and roots.
Always Use Caution
Even if you use these safer alternatives to Roundup, you should remain careful. Experts recommend that you wear eye protection, waterproof gloves, and long sleeves. You may need to wear special coveralls if you opt for the hot foam or steam method to avoid burns.
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What Makes Roundup Dangerous
Some studies appear to show that glyphosate, the active herbicide in the brand-name weed killer Roundup, can cause people to develop cancer when they breathe or ingest the chemical. A study conducted by the University of Washington revealed that agricultural workers who regularly used Roundup had a 41 percent greater likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than people who never or rarely used the weed killer.
Although the makers of Roundup claim that their product does not cause cancer, many scientists disagree. In fact, more than a dozen countries have banned Roundup, including Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Certain Workers More at Risk of Developing Cancer from Roundup
Some people work in occupations that make them more likely to develop cancer from Roundup because they suffer regular exposure to the herbicide.
This risk group includes:
- Agricultural workers
There is not enough research to show whether the spray or granular form of Roundup is more dangerous.
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Call to Learn About Compensation
If you or a loved one extensively used Roundup and received a cancer diagnosis, you may qualify to receive compensation. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 217-6099 today for a free consultation with a member of our team.