Chemicals used near playing kids

FOR Simon Allen the widespread spraying of chemical weedkiller in council parks and gardens is not only ugly and lazy, it's dangerous and irresponsible.

This week he told councillors they were risking the health of children and asked them to ban the use of glyphosate, a herbicide poison that is used across the region by council crews.

The father of four, from Yeppoon, presented a file of photographic evidence from parks and playgrounds that the poison was being used right to the edge of sandpits and soft fall areas.

“Chemical experts at the University of California say kids exposed to this product are four and a half times more likely to contract asthma, but your staff maintain it is safe,” he told members of the sports and recreation committee.

“I've seen your workers spraying in playgrounds when children are playing. Why can't these areas be weeded manually.”

Mr Allen told them he had contacted experts around Australia and further afield for information about the chemical known as Roundup Biactive.

“No-one is prepared to say it is safe and most advise extreme caution,” he said.

But Kevin Quinn, the council's operations manager for parks services, insisted it was used because it was the safest herbicide available and was classed as non-hazardous.

Councillors were not entirely convinced. Cr Bill Ludwig said he was surprised to see so many areas being poisoned rather than cut. “There must be an alternative,” he said.

And Cr Cherie Rutherford, who chairs the committee, said she had raised on numerous occasions her concerns about the increasing use of poisons by council crews.

The council is to review its poisoning program and has drawn together experts from Queensland Health and others to advise it. Mr Allen has been asked to assist the review process.

In the meantime when crews are spraying signs will be erected to advise parents.

Outside the council chamber Mr Allen was more forthright.

“It's everywhere and it's out of control. You can get skin and breathing problems from this chemical but the council uses it because it saves, they think it saves a few bucks.

“Independent tests have likened this product to cancer but everyone in our community is being exposed to it because it is used everywhere in Yeppoon and Rockhampton.”

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