A lot of naturally occurring metals contaminate water. However, artificially added contaminants like the chemicals in pesticides and herbicides also constitute water contamination. Glyphosate is an active ingredient that is used in many herbicides. The popular Roundup also is made of Glyphosate. It is mainly used to control the growth of grass and weeds. It has been used in the U.S. as a pesticide since the 1970s. Glyphosate herbicides are commonly called weed killers.
With the growing population worldwide, the food industry has kept up with production using these herbicides. It helps in keeping weed and grass growth to zero. Glyphosate or Roundup is the most used chemical in the agricultural industry. It is estimated that over 9.4 million tons have been already sprayed on the fields over the last 5 decades. This has led to severe health issues, and people have a growing concern about its usage.
How Does Glyphosate Get Into Water?
Glyphosate can enter the water through air or water runoff. Once it finds its way into the water, it does not leave quickly. Wind near the sprayed fields can carry the herbicide into water bodies, or agricultural runoff from these fields can find its way into water bodies. Rivers, wells, streams, or ditches can contaminate glyphosate during snow or rains. There is also a possibility of glyphosate seeping into the ground and reaching the groundwater.
Poor agriculture practices also lead to the contamination of drinking water with glyphosate.
What Is The Acceptable Glyphosate Level?
Every contaminant has an acceptable level set by the government. Up to this acceptable level, the pollutants are safe for consumption. Herbicides like Roundup or other glyphosate were never intended to enter drinking water. Thus, they can cause severe damage to human health. Contamination of 700 parts per billion or ppb is the MCL or Maximum Contaminant Level for glyphosate. Any water supply meant for direct consumption should not exceed this level.
Glyphosate can also enter private wells, and thus it becomes the owner’s responsibility to regulate the presence of glyphosate in well water.
Health Risks Associated With Glyphosate
As the agriculture industry heavily uses glyphosate, a lot of research has been conducted to identify the health risks. The IARC has classified it as carcinogenic to humans. This means it can cause cancer in humans. The exposure of glyphosate to humans has confirmed that it causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
There is also strong evidence regarding this herbicide being genotoxic. It means that it causes damage to the DNA, which is another cause of cancer. It is also known to induce oxidative stress that causes an imbalance in regulating free radicals. These signs indicate irreversible damage to health and injuries to the aging process.
Higher levels of glyphosate have been linked with the cause of death in a study. Recently, glyphosate has been considered bioaccumulative. There are chances that it may build up in the body over some time and become toxic.
There have been studies on this chemical which has indicated its link with other health effects like autism, celiac disease, leaky gut syndrome, and endocrine disruption.
How to Remove from Drinking Water?
The use of glyphosate is an industry over which an individual does not control. Hence, we cannot prevent it from entering our water systems or even finding the contamination’s root cause. The only thing that can be worked upon is removing it from drinking water once you have identified this contaminant in water. Many water filters available in the market can easily remove glyphosate from water. Water filters that use the process of reverse distillation osmosis activated carbon filters and nanofiltration can easily remove this contaminant from drinking water.
How long does glyphosate last in water?
Glyphosate can disappear from the water after a long time. In low-light conditions, it lasts for up to 170 days when released. In dim-light conditions, it can last for about 300 days. Thus, if glyphosate finds its way into public water bodies, it will stay there for many months. This is exactly why humans are prone to heavy exposure to this contaminant.
In flowing water, the concentration of glyphosate reduces, but it still stays for a long time in the water before it completely exits the water.
Can glyphosate be removed from the body?
Yes, glyphosate can be removed from the human body. However, it is difficult to remove it. There are very specific microbes like Acetobacter present in probiotics that break down the enzymes in glyphosate. Chlorine dioxide can also be used to break it down. It does this through the oxidation process and is a non-enzymatic process.
How do you test water for glyphosate?
Unlike most other contaminants, the presence of glyphosate cannot be determined easily with the home test kit. There are no home test kits available in the market that can determine the presence of this herbicide in water. You will have to depend on laboratory testing to detect glyphosate in your water supply. A certified laboratory can test the water samples and give you clear results.
A lab test will mention the presence of glyphosate in the samples and the concentration level in ppb. For a lab test, either you send a sample of water to the lab or collect it from the premises, and within a week, a detailed report is sent over to you. A test for glyphosate will cost you a little over $100 from a certified lab.
Does boiling water remove glyphosate?
Unfortunately, boiling water does not remove any herbicide or pesticide, including glyphosate, present in water. This is because glyphosate has a high decomposition and melting point. This is higher than the boiling point of water. Thus, boiling water will only lead to a higher concentration of glyphosate after the water has evaporated.
How do you treat glyphosate poisoning?
Excessive exposure to glyphosate can cause glyphosate toxicity. This is called glyphosate poisoning. A lot of day-to-day food consumed is sprayed with glyphosate. Hence it is very difficult to avoid the consumption of glyphosate. The only treatment for this is aggressive supportive therapy and decontamination.
Activated charcoal or gastric lavage can treat patients after exposure to glyphosate.
Glyphosate is a very commonly used herbicide that is widely used in agriculture. It is tough to avoid the consumption of glyphosate. The best way to avoid glyphosate is to either use organic food products or use an appropriate water filter system to remove all kinds of herbicides and pesticides from drinking water.