Politics Blog

Whatcom's use of Roundup, other glyphosate products down from 2002 peak

In a meeting before the Whatcom County Council 10 days ago, Noxious Weed Control Board coordinator Laurel Baldwin reported that the county's use of glyphosate (Monsanto brand name Roundup) had gone down over the past several years, per the weed board's documented goals.

Following up on a question from readers, I looked into exactly how much glyphosate is sprayed along county roads in a given season.

I received from the county a bar graph, on which county officials chose to show the past three seasons of spraying and 2002, which was the peak year for glyphosate use.

The number of gallons of glyphosate sprayed along county roads has dropped from a high of 270 gallons in 2002 to 73.5 gallons in 2012. The especially low quantity for 2013, 30.5 gallons, was artificially low, Baldwin said, because the spray season was shortened by changes to equipment.

Going with the 73.5-gallon figure as more representative, and considering the county is responsible for 974 road miles, that amounts to 9.6 fluid ounces per road mile, or a little more than a cup.

I'm gathering more data to give the Whatcom glyphosate numbers some context. I expect I'll have a story ready by the end of next week.

This all follows a story I wrote that was published on Sunday, June 8, which detailed some of the concerns raised by the latest scientific studies on the herbicide.