Weed killer detected in Australian urine samples – PPE necessary

by | Oct 14, 2022

Study lead, Garth Campbell analysing glyphosate – source UQ.edu

Researchers from the University of Queensland conducted an Australian-first study, which found eight per cent of urine samples drawn from the general public contained a common weed killer.

According to The University of Queensland, Dr Sarit Kaserzon and PhD candidate Garth Campbell from the university’s Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences led a team that tested urine samples from more than 1800 Australians and compared them with 27 samples from New Zealand farmers.

“We detected low levels of glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used herbicide chemical, in 8 per cent of the Australian samples,” Dr Kaserzon said.

“In comparison, there were high levels of glyphosate in 98 per cent of the samples taken from New Zealand farmers straight after they’d sprayed herbicide formulations. This indicates a strong link with occupational exposure for frequent users.”

A recent story by the Australian Hardware Journal reported that glyphosate is one of the chemicals being banned and reduced in other countries. However, the weed killer chemical is still regularly used and is currently unrestricted within Australia.

The The University of Queensland reports that glyphosate can be ingested in food or water, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, making it incredibly easy for users to have it enter their bodies.

A recent report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States found more than 80 per cent of urine samples drawn from 2310 American children and adults had traces of glyphosate. The US is another country without restrictions on glyphosate at this time.

However, The University of Queensland researchers say people should not be concerned by the low levels detected in Australian samples, but are advised to take precautions.

“There are many ways to reduce exposure to the chemicals we use in the home and garden every day,” Mr Campbell said.

“Farmers or anyone else who regularly use chemicals containing glyphosate should wear goggles, protective gloves and avoid inhalation of dust and mist.

“I also highly recommend additional measures including protective clothing, mask-wearing and hand washing after handling a product with glyphosate, and ensure it is stored safely.”

Dr Kaserzon said there is currently limited evidence around how glyphosate affects human health. Though several cases are arguing it is linked to the cause of cancers in Australian and US gardeners and farmers.

“By understanding how people are exposed we can reduce or eliminate the potential risk,” she said.

Personal protective equipment is readily available in hardware stores, with staff who can assist in finding the right ones that will protect users from specific chemicals. Until more research is conducted into the potential risks to human health, it is best to prepare and protect against the potential absorption, inhalation and ingestion of glyphosate.

“We hope our research is used to inform and improve regulatory decisions on protecting Australians’ health,” Dr Kaserzon concluded.