Local elected official speaks out against the use of a harmful chemical in community parks

Official speaks out against use of potentially harmful weed killer
Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 7:06 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington is well known for its parks and recreational areas, but one chemical is putting these areas at risk.

From Long Leaf Park to Greenfield Lake, the City of Wilmington has many areas people love to enjoy during the summer.

Wilmington is not only a tree city but also a bee city and emphasizes how important maintaining the natural habitat and environment is to the city and New Hanover County.

However, one chemical used to beautify the parks and gardens could jeopardize that. Evan Folds is the elected supervisor of the New Hanover soil and water conservation district, and he explained the dangers of the chemical glyphosate.

“The real danger of glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Roundup, is not just its toxicity, but that it’s water soluble. So it’s literally detectable in the lake behind us. It’s detectable and more than 80% of urine samples, 80% of rain samples, it’s everywhere,” said Folds.

He’s raising concerns about the use of glyphosate which countries around the world already ban or restrict its use due to possible cancer connections.

Folds says he doesn’t want to go that far but wants some thought process put behind the chemical’s use.

The chemical is also linked to gut health issues that are linked to the microbiome found inside of the human body according to the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s extremely harmful to microbial biology. And that is the nature of our gut microbiome, and there’s a lot of science connecting all this reality in the world now. And obliterating those teammates in our body is creating the chronic disease issues that we’re facing,” said Folds.

The goal is to form a task force team with the city and New Hanover County to help find a balance on when to use the chemical.

“I’m not here to be a purist about it. I think this is not a banning exercise, frankly, Ban one thing and 10 other things come behind that you can’t ban at all, it’s a matter of establishing a protocol,” said Folds.

Part of that protocol will be natural alternatives like vinegar-based solutions that can not only help maintain parks and public places -- but have a better outcome for the environment.

“When you have weeds in a crack. Rather than spraying glyphosate, which we’ve just talked through as a very toxic substance, you could use a flame. There are vinegar-based AB solutions that use vinegar, and this B part opens up the pores of the plant to make it more susceptible to the vinegar,” said Folds.

The county says it’s working to find a balance for the use of glyphosate — and Folds is simply glad that conversation has started.

“It’s a really critical issue that we can’t see and that’s why we need to be extremely critical about it,” said Folds.

To ensure our parks are both beautiful and safe for everyone.