POISON PARKS: The toxic effect of Roundup in city parks

The Black Institute unveils new report and calls on city for change

The Black Institute released a report on the damage being done to parkgoers by the use of Roundup™, the popular weed killer, in New York City parks. The report found that over 500 gallons of Roundup™ was sprayed across city parks and playgrounds in 2016. The chemicals used have been classified by the World Health Organization as a possible carcinogen known to cause severe kidney damage, asthma, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and birth defects, among other disorders and side effects. 

The report found that over 500 gallons of Roundup™ was sprayed across city parks and playgrounds in 2016. 

The report also noted that the majority of communities affected by the use of Roundup™ are mostly made up of people of color. Data used in the report shows that Roundup™ has been sprayed in NYC parks since at least 2011. This data shows Idlewild Park in Queens had higher application rates in 2017 and 2018 compared to surrounding locations, where concentrations were as high as 50%, compared to normal rates of .5% to 3%. According to census data, the communities surrounding Idlewild Park are approximately 90% African American.

While the report doesn’t cite any use of Roundup in Bronx, Brooklyn or Staten Island parks, the data set FOILed and reviewed included hundreds parks across the five borough where Roundup ProMax was used in various quantities ranging from 2 ounces to 2400 ml. Pesticides containing glyphosate were used at Rodman’s Neck, Turtle Cove, Ferry Point Park and Soundview Park.

“Millions of New Yorkers rely on our public parks. Children, seniors, working people, immigrants, and their pets use them everyday, but most don’t know the weed killer Roundup™ used in our parks is literally poisoning them. As our report shows, the neighborhoods affected are black and brown communities, such as Idlewild Park in Queens, where 90% of the residents are black. Average New Yorkers can’t just go to a park upstate or in Long Island to enjoy the outdoors. Public parks are the backyard for most New York City residents. We have banned plastic bags, we have banned trucks idling, and we have banned styrofoam. It is high time we ban the weed killer Roundup™,” said Bertha Lewis, President of The Black Institute.

Within the report, The Black Institute calls on the city to:

  • Stop the routine use of dangerous toxic pesticides/herbicides
  • Only allow safe products that are EPA registered, with active ingredients approved by the National Organics Standards Board,
  • Immediately adopt an official Integrated Pest Management (IPM) measure that requires public monitoring, record-keeping, and use of non-chemical methods and safer pesticides before using other treatments.

The Black Institute presented the report’s findings to the City Council Committee on Health on Wednesday, January 29.

Those who believe they may have been affected by the use of Roundup™ should contact The Black Institute at (212) 871-6899.

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