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herbicides03-1-19 Sedona City Council reinstated a managed weed control plan that uses herbicides no more than four times a year in response to citizen concern.

Council voted 5-2 at its meeting Jan. 9 to start using herbicides again after a 120-day trial period during which the city didn’t use them for weed control .

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Sedona City Council reinstated a managed weed control plan that uses herbicides no more than four times a year in response to citizen concern.

Council voted 5-2 at its meeting Jan. 9 to start using herbicides again after a 120-day trial period during which the city didn’t use them for weed control.

Vice Mayor Jerry Frey and Councilman Rob Adams voted against reinstatement of herbicide use.

City staff moved the meeting out of the Council Chambers for that item so chemically sensitive residents who wished to speak against herbicide use could attend. Earlier that day, roofing crews sprayed a chemical while repairing the chambers’ roof, and those with chemical sensitivity couldn’t be in the building without getting sick.

Adams expressed concern about the effects chemicals can have on human health, particularly those sensitive to chemicals.

“There’s a certain segment of our population that’s adversely affected by this,” Adams said at the meeting.

“I think we need to protect our citizens,” Adams later added.

Other council members agreed a long-term solution further scaling back herbicide use needs to be considered, but at a later date.

Councilman Harvey Stearn said without hard facts linking herbicides

to health problems, he couldn’t completely condemn their use.

“I think a measured approach is important,” Stearn said.

Council will re-evaluate the new plan in a year, and during that time, directed staff to begin planning for the future.

Residents told council members about the health concerns related to herbicide use for chemically sensitive individuals and the general population during public comment.

“Even using a small amount would be detrimental to human health,” Matthew Turner said.

Turner founded Vibrant Sedona — group dedicated to addressing chemical use’s effects on health — and he has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.

According to a report issued by the Sierra Club of Canada in January 2005, the chemical 2,4-D — or 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid — causes many health problems in mammals. Turner points out that people, yes, are mammals too.

Cell mutations leading to cancer, reproductive concerns regarding conception and fetus development and interference with neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine are among health risks cited by the Sierra Club.

Chemically sensitive individuals suffer from immediate symptoms and are vulnerable to long-term effects as well.

Verde Valley Weed Control — contracted by the city — uses 2,4-D when spraying Sedona.

Ginny Rench, co-owner of Verde Valley Weed Control, said while 2,4-D is used, it’s in small amounts.

Turner said the amount used is irrelevant because 2,4-D doesn’t break down. It builds up each time sprayed.

Also, 2,4-D is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, Rench said.

The chemical’s EPA approval makes Rench feel comfortable using it. She trusts the agencies that regulate the chemicals, Rench said, and therefore accepts their approval.

Turner said while he respects the EPA, they are underfunded and can’t study all the effects of each chemical.

The EPA has also approved many chemicals, according to Turner, and later found them to be toxic.

Verde Valley Weed Control only uses chemicals it is comfortable with, Rench said.

“There are harsher products on the market we choose not to use,” Rench sad.

The city contracted Verde Valley Weed Control in 1995 to spray weeds and has used its services since.

Rench said her company is licensed by the Structural Pest Control Commission of the state of Arizona and has been since 1996.

SPCC requires employees to undergo yearly training for renewal of the license while checking Verde Valley Weed Control’s operation regularly, Rench said.

City staff will begin applying herbicides in March and do so every other month until November. Herbicides won’t be used during the winter months — November through February.


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