A new study finds that more than 80% of Americans have in their urine traces of a weedkiller ingredient that has been linked to cancer.
Glyphosate — an herbicide used in industries such as agriculture, gardening and home maintenance — was found in 1,885 of 2,310 samples of a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Daily Mail.
The news outlet reported that those aged between 6 and 18 years old made up a third of the survey’s participants.
The herbicide is most commonly associated with the weedkiller Roundup, which has been the subject of extensive litigation.
Parent company Bayer was ordered to pay nearly $11 billion across thousands of U.S.-based lawsuits in 2020 that claimed the weedkiller caused cancer, according to the Daily Mail.
Two major cases cited by the outlet include a California resident who was awarded $25 million in 2016 after suing Monsanto, Roundup’s original parent company, in federal court.
Another successful lawsuit against Monsanto saw a terminally ill groundskeeper, also from California, be awarded $289 million.
Both plaintiffs argued that the weedkiller caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that originates in white blood cells.
A team of researchers from the University of Washington found in 2019 that exposure to glyphosate may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, by more than 40%.
The study says that the herbicide, introduced by Monsanto in 1974, took off in the mid-2000s when the agriculture industry began the practice of “green burndown,” or applying glyphosate-based herbicides to crops shortly before harvest.
Public health opinion on glyphosate has been mixed.
The Daily Mail reported that the World Health Organization said the herbicide was “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015. Opinions like that fueled California’s push to require glyphosate-based products to carry a warning label in 2017.
But the Mail also reported that the Environmental Protection Agency said in 2019 that the herbicide doesn’t cause cancer.