Weed Killers Under Scrutiny: The Health Risks of Four Common Ingredients

Weed Killers Under Scrutiny

Weed killers, also known as herbicides, have long been a popular tool in the battle against unwanted plants in lawns, gardens, and agricultural fields. These products are designed to be effective in controlling weeds. However, some of the key ingredients found in many commercial weed killers have raised concerns about their potential health risks.

In this article, we’ll explore four common weed-killer ingredients that have been associated with severe health risks.


Glyphosate is the most well-known and widely used herbicide in the world. Marketed under brand names like Roundup, this herbicide is used in gardens, farms, and public spaces.

NBC News presented some concerning facts in their analysis of glyphosate usage in agriculture in the U.S. The findings unveiled an average application of approximately 130 pounds of herbicides containing glyphosate per square mile in diverse counties across the United States.

Nueces County in Texas was particularly noteworthy, as it held the distinction of being the U.S. county with the highest glyphosate usage. Its rate exceeded 1,100 pounds per square mile.

Back in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the WHO categorized glyphosate as a potential human carcinogen. Moreover, recent studies have shown that exposure to glyphosate is associated with a 41% risk of inducing mutations in human chromosomes. These mutations can be a contributing factor in the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Importantly, the risk appears to be more pronounced in individuals who have experienced prolonged and higher levels of exposure to glyphosate. TorHoerman Law notes that these findings have sparked extensive debates and legal disputes regarding the safety of products containing glyphosate.

In more recent times, Monsanto, the manufacturer of the widely recognized herbicide Roundup, has faced persistent scrutiny. This heightened attention results from numerous legal actions taken against the company through the Roundup lawsuit.

Monsanto has, to date, settled more than 100,000 lawsuits related to Roundup, resulting in payouts of approximately $11 billion as of May 2022. Nevertheless, as of October 19, 2023, there are still 4,237 Roundup lawsuits pending within multidistrict litigation in California.


Atrazine is another herbicide frequently used in agriculture. Research has linked atrazine exposure to a range of health concerns, including hormone disruption and potential carcinogenicity.

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report highlighting potential risks associated with atrazine exposure. Although the EPA stated that atrazine is unlikely to cause cancer, further studies and ongoing debates continue to raise questions about its long-term safety.

In addition to these concerns, people who took atrazine reported a range of adverse effects. These effects included nosebleeds, facial swelling, increased salivation, drooping eyelids, goosebumps, muscle weakness, fatigue, tremors, and difficulty breathing.

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid (2,4-D)

2,4-D is a synthetic herbicide extensively utilized in both lawn care products and agriculture. It has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by the IARC, primarily due to findings from animal studies.

Research published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology reports that the chemical can increase the risk of lung cancers. This elevated risk is particularly pronounced in the case of small cell lung cancer (SCLC), notably among agricultural workers.

Additionally, concerns about 2,4-D’s potential to disrupt hormonal functions, particularly in children, have prompted calls for tighter regulations and safer alternatives.


Dicamba, a frequently employed herbicide for broadleaf weed control, has come under scrutiny due to its potential health implications.

The National Library of Medicine conducted a substantial prospective cohort study on dicamba, which revealed a significant finding. The study established a connection between the use of dicamba and an elevated risk of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancers. Furthermore, concerns regarding dicamba exposure extend to the heightened risk of acute myeloid leukemia.

These findings have raised questions about the safety of dicamba and have prompted a closer examination of its usage in agricultural and landscaping practices.


Amid ongoing safety debates, it’s crucial for consumers and professionals to be aware of potential health risks from these products. If you choose to use weed killers, consider using alternatives with safer ingredients, following label instructions, and taking necessary precautions. Additionally, it’s crucial to stay updated on the latest research and regulatory developments in the field of herbicides. Public awareness and demand for safer products can drive change and encourage the development of more environmentally and health-friendly weed control methods. Ultimately, protecting our health and the environment should be a top priority when using weed killers or any chemical products in our daily lives.