The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that the half-life of glyphosate, the main chemical in Roundup weed killer, in soil ranges from 3 to 249 days. This range means that it remains possible for Roundup to stay active in the soil for possibly over a year. However, other studies come to different conclusions.
The consensus determined that Roundup stays active in the soil for at least six months. The length of time depends on the amount applied in a specific area and the environmental conditions to which Roundup remains exposed over time.
Understanding How Roundup Kills Weeds
Roundup contains several chemicals, including glyphosate, which kill weeds when sprayed directly on the leaves. The leaves allow the weed (or plant) to absorb the herbicide, eventually killing it as the poison moves into the sap of the weed, moving it throughout the entire plant.
Most farmers, gardeners, and those in the agricultural community know that Roundup does not kill weeds by pouring it into the soil, but rather from the direct application of the product to the weed itself.
Roundup in the Soil
Roundup will spill into the soil as those applying it spray the solution on and around weeds. The exact time that it takes for Roundup to break down in the soil remains a strong point of debate in the scientific community. Additionally, the time it takes to break down these chemicals must factor in variables such as the amount of rainfall, humidity, and the quantity sprayed on the soil.
Cornell University researchers found that glyphosate has a half-life in soil of between 1 and 174 days, which is 71% of the USDA’s maximum half-life range. Some studies indicate that Roundup becomes harmless to nearby vegetation quickly, and plants accidentally sprayed with Roundup can be washed immediately after application to prevent absorption by the leaves.
There exists much controversy regarding the safety of Roundup on vegetation that humans will consume. Some studies seem to indicate that the chemical glyphosate may cause cancer in humans based upon different forms and levels of exposure.
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Differences in Scientific Opinion
The reason that questioning how long Roundup stays active in the soil is a significant question is because some international organizations now believe that glyphosate is a possible carcinogen.
For example, in 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) publicly declared that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) disagreed with this position and declared glyphosate safe to human health.
Questions Surround Some Studies
If Roundup is, in fact, a carcinogen, then those people who come in close contact with the weed killer or consume food treated with or near this product may have serious cause for concern regarding their health.
Another area of controversy surrounding the debate over Roundup’s safety is the deep divide in the scientific community regarding the accuracy and independence of the studies that find Roundup safe for humans. A study in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe found that the EPA and EFSA based their decisions on research developed from “unpublished regulatory studies.”
Monsanto, the company that created Roundup, and other companies with a direct interest in the outcome of the research often commissioned those unpublished studies. Conversely, the IARC relied heavily upon peer-reviewed studies that were intentionally neutral and not funded by any interested party.
Just as there are differences regarding the dangers of Roundup, there are also scientific debates regarding the danger that soil contamination poses to humans over time. Research published by the National Institutes of Health indicates that glyphosate’s use appears to impact the surrounding environment, which could impact crop health and nutrition.
Any prolonged or extensive use of glyphosate-containing products such as Roundup should continue to be of serious interest to scientists. Continued research needs to occur regarding both the environmental risks and the risks to humans with respect to this possible carcinogen.
Consider a Roundup Lawyer
Most research shows that the length of time that Roundup stays active in the soil in many cases is less than one year, but the range depends largely on environmental factors and the amount of the chemical that a person applies in a particular area.
If you believe you developed any serious medical conditions because of your exposure to Roundup, consider calling our legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444. We can help you understand how a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you with your next legal steps.