“What is going on?” Pregnant women living near farm fields show increased weed killing chemical in their urine

By Carey Gillam

Pregnant women living near farm fields show “significantly” increased concentrations of glyphosate weed killer in their urine during seasonal periods when farmers are spraying their fields with the pesticide, according to a new scientific paper published Wednesday.

The research team said the findings were concerning, given recent studies that have associated gestational exposure to glyphosate with reduced fetal growth and other fetal problems.

“If the developing fetus is especially vulnerable to glyphosate, it is critical to understand the magnitude and sources of exposure during this critical developmental period,” the new paper states. The authors include researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Washington; King’s College London; Boise State University; and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The results were also considered somewhat surprising because none of the women studied worked with glyphosate or other pesticides or had a household member who worked with pesticides, said Cynthia Curl, associate professor at Boise State and lead author on the paper.

“What is going on? Is it drifting more than we think? Is it adhering to soil particles which then blow around and end up in people’s house dust? Is it drinking water? Until we figure that out we can’t suggest the right interventions,” Curl said.

Follow-up research will collect household dust and water samples to try to determine routes of exposure, Curl said.

Prior findings by the same research team found that pregnant women cut levels of glyphosate in their urine when eating an organic diet – unless they lived near farm fields.