CORK City Council is continuing to use glyphosate as a weedkiller, despite concerns over its health implications.
The herbicide has been the subject of a number of litigation proceedings abroad regarding glyphosate-based weedkillers and their contribution to the development of cancer.
The chemical is used extensively in Ireland for maintaining public spaces and in food production. Irish officials have backed measures to extend licensing for the chemical until 2022 but this is under review by the EU and it is likely to be banned in the coming years.
City Hall director of environment Valerie O’Sullivan said the council is continuing to use products which contain glyphosate.
“I have to confirm on the record that this Council does not use any banned substance,” she said. “We also insist on personal protective equipment for our staff when they are using any substance for whom exposure to it would mean a side effect. Glyphosate remains on our list as a weedkiller, particularly in the context of Japanese knotweed, as it is the only thing available to eliminate knotweed.”
Councillor Ted Tynan has urged the council to stop using it for eliminating weeds where people are likely to come into contact with it.
“There is a survey published that shows the serious effects of glyphosate on the health of people using it and those that may come in contact," he said. "Glyphosate is a killer, it’s a carcinogenic.
"I know it’s the only thing available to control Japanese knotweed and I accept that when it is carefully used and it’s injected into the plant it can take root and kill the plant.
“There was a case in Mayfield two years ago when two children came home from school, they played in a green and then ended up going to a doctor with rash and their eyes burning. A couple of hours earlier, the green had been sprayed by a contractor. The doctor’s report was they must have come in touch with a toxin material.”
Ms O’Sullivan said she could not comment on the case in Mayfield.