A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study revealed a common herbicide chemical linked to cancer was detected in the majority of urine samples the public health agency reviewed.

The CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program designed to assess the nutritional health of American adults and children, released data last month showing that more than 80 percent of urine samples tested by the health agency were at or above the detection limit for glyphosate, which is widely considered to be a carcinogenic chemical and is the main ingredient in the weedkiller product Roundup.

About 2,310 urine samples were collected from people aged 6 years and older in 2013 and 2014, with about a third of the samples coming from children. The CDC said it conducted the study to get a clearer picture of how prevalent glyphosate is among the general population.

In a news release on Monday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) pointed out 87 percent of 650 children tested had detectable levels of glyphosate.

Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at EWG, said that “glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the country, yet until now we had very little data on exposure.”

“Children in the U.S. are regularly exposed to this cancer-causing weedkiller through the food they eat virtually every day,” Temkin said. “The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] should take concrete regulatory action to dramatically lower the levels of glyphosate in the food supply and protect children’s health.”

Glyphosate is used to kill weeds and grass and is most widely known in Roundup, the popular herbicide created by the company Monsanto.

Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, has faced thousands of lawsuits by plaintiffs accusing Roundup of causing cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, also known as cancer in the lymph nodes.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled glyphosate a “probable” carcinogen in 2015, but the EPA in 2020 sided with pesticide companies, arguing there is not enough evidence to show the chemical is a probable or likely carcinogen.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Bayer to throw out a lawsuit from a plaintiff accusing Roundup of causing him non-Hodgkin lymphoma, clearing the way for thousands of lawsuits against the pesticide company to proceed.

Bayer told The Hill in a statement that small amounts of glyphosate would normally be detected in urine samples because the body gets rid of nonessential substances.

Bayer also said the amount of glyphosate detected per sample in the CDC study is below the EPA’s exposure safety threshold of .14 percent and “well below levels that regulatory agencies established to protect human health.”

“These comparisons consistently demonstrate that human exposures to glyphosate are well below established safety thresholds,” the company said in a statement.

Updated July 12 2:32 p.m.


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