County Council To Vote Tuesday On Pesticide Issue

Vice Chair
Environmental Sustainability Board

Last night the Parks and Recreation Board (PRB) voted to support the ESB motion mentioned in this article. The ESB passed the motion unanimously at their October meeting and the County Council has graciously chosen to consider it at their meeting next Tuesday Dec 14th.  Both boards received over 50 individual comments via email and public comment since October, all but two of them in strong support of the motion. Additionally, the League of Women Voters and Pajarito Group of the Sierra Club representing over 200 community members have endorsed the motion. I have been on the PRB as a member or liaison for over 6 years. Not only is this amount of public input unmatched on any topic in the past 6 years but the fact that it is nearly unanimous is unprecedented for our community.

Western Area Park, which has been managed entirely without herbicides since 2016 on request of the residents who live near the park. Courtesy photo

I include here a few points from my presentation on this subject:

  • Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic and mineral chelator. 
  • Glyphosate mimics glycine, a basic building block of proteins, hormones, enzymes etc.
  • It is a sex specific endocrine disruptor and severely impairs adrenal hormone synthesis.
  • Glyphosate accumulates in soil, water, plants, food and humans. 
  • A JAMA study tracking glyphosate amounts in urine from 1993-2016 showed a 500% increase in people testing positive for glyphosate in their urine and a 1208% increase in the amount of glyphosate showing up in each sample.
  • Glyphosate is significantly more toxic in formulations like RoundUp or RangerPro than by itself due to synergistic effect from other ingredients such as surfactants increasing glyphosate’s ability to enter cells.
  • Over $2.2B has been awarded against Bayer (glyphosate manufacturer) due to health issues arising from exposure.
  • Over 150,000 additional cases are ongoing against Bayer. Bayer is providing $11.9B to attempt to settle all cases and limit losses.
  • Bayer is planning to stop sales of glyphosate-containing products for residential use in North America by 2023 to avoid more lawsuits (county can potentially keep purchasing and using it past that since they have a commercial license).
  • Meanwhile, county’s historic use of glyphosate containing products includes areas like wood and rubber chipping below playground equipment, bases of fencing (e.g. around tennis courts), rockscapes (like those along Central), rockscaped medians (near high traffic), along the edges of paved recreation paths, spot use on athletic fields and green areas, use on easements next to backyard fences/gardens/pets, meters, along bus stops.
  • Since 2016, in response to citizen requests, county parks staff have drastically decreased glyphosate use with their 2020 amount applied being down to 1,664 gallons (half of the amount used in 2019). 
  • 1,664 gallons is still about a fire truck and a half full. 
  • Since 2016 our county has had 2 CSD directors, 3 PROS Managers, 2 Parks Superintendents, 2 Public Works directors. It is unreasonable to expect the public and employees to depend on each new staff’s personal policies on something that has such a huge impact on the health of employees, community and the environment.
  • It is a huge legal liability for the county to continue using glyphosate and exposing employees and the community given the amount of legal precedent confirming serious health damage from exposure.

Unfortunately, as chronic diseases are on a rapid rise, most of us have someone in our circle who has had to deal with cancer, autoimmune disease, developmental issues or other chronic disease. And all of us wish there was something we could do. Here is something measurable that we can do as individuals and as a community. Please consider writing to the council with your thoughts on this matter as soon as you can even if your input is just a short “support/don’t support”. Exact wording of the ESB motion as well as emails to use are below. If you are up for sharing this far and wide, including one or both of the newspaper editor emails (listed below) on your message as a letter to the editor will give more visibility to this issue for the wider community.


County council:

Environmental Sustainability Board:

Parks and Recreation Board:

Los Alamos Reporter:

LA Daily Post:

ESB motion wording:

At the ESB meeting on October 21st, the Board voted 5-0 to recommend to County Council to: 

1) Require pesticide application information (including area to be sprayed and product) to be posted in one designated county website location 72 hours in advance whenever possible or within 24 hours of application for each application and for at least 6 months after the application including the Department of Agriculture Pesticide Application Record for the particular application. 

2) Stop use of any herbicide containing glyphosate on County land. 

3) Prioritize and support expansion of Integrative Pest Management efforts by relevant departments to continue to actively decrease the amount and frequency of chemical use on County land.

County Council meeting with presentation and discussion on this issue is scheduled for next Tuesday Dec 14th. Consider writing in before then or attending to add your public comment. Full agenda for the council can be downloaded here later this week. You can download agenda from PRB meeting last night that is up currently and includes both presentations as well.

A kids team using Western Area Park athletic field for practice. Western Area Park has been maintained without herbicides since 2016 on the request of residents who live near the park. Courtesy photo