North Kitsap School District Superintendent Laurynn Evans said in an interview Tuesday that North Kitsap schools will no longer be using weedkillers which contain the ingredient glyphosate.
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in the commercially-available weedkiller Roundup, has been at the center of several high-profile lawsuits against the chemical’s manufacturer. Last summer, Bayer — formerly Monsanto — agreed to pay Dewayne Johnson $79 million after he claimed to have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a result of working with large quantities of glyphosate on a daily basis. A recent UW study also found that individuals who had been exposed to glyphosate-based herbicides, showed a 41-percent higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Locally, the practice of aerial application of glyphosate by Pope Resources as a means of managing the group’s forest lands, served as the catalyst for the formation of the Kitsap Environmental Coalition last summer. The group has since set its sights on pushing for stricter forest practice regulations statewide.
Despite the recent controversy surrounding the chemical, the North Kitsap School District’s superintendent said there wasn’t really any one motivator behind the district’s decision to discontinue the use of glyphosate.
“There wasn’t really any defining thing that got us to arrive at that decision, it’s something that we have been discussing for some time,” Evans said. “We’re just looking at other options for weed control.”
When asked to elaborate on the factors that contributed to the decision, Evans avoided any mention of the recent controversy surrounding the chemical and its purported link to cancer.
“I can’t say that there was any list of reasons. We had been using Roundup in very limited application to begin with, so we had several conversations about do we do any weed control at all, moving forward? We made the decision to perhaps try to continue doing some spot application but to explore some other products.”
Evans said the school district had only utilized minimal amounts of the chemical although she also admitted she wasn’t sure how much glyphosate was actually used annually or how much of the chemical will be left unused by the district.
“I don’t even know if we have any left at this point,” Evans said. “We typically supply annually. I’m not sure that we have stores of that [Roundup] sitting around in our maintenance facility.”
As for the district’s past use of glyphosate-based herbicides, pertinent to student safety, Evans offered another broad answer.
“We’re always concerned about anything that could be potentially harmful for kids, so we’re always looking at all the information that we can,” Evans said. “We are always trying to keep student safety as a top priority.”
—Nick Twietmeyer is the editor for the North Kitsap Herald, Central Kitsap Reporter and Kingston Community News. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org