Yesterday, we blogged about the peaceful protest Native American Peoples and their friends are holding at Glen Cove, California, in an effort to protect a very sacred burial site from desecration. The City of Vallejo has plans to turn the ancient site into a park with parking lot, restrooms and paved trails, and for more than a week now a spiritual encampment has been set up at the cove to protect the remains of the Indigenous peoples who have lain buried there for 3500 years.
My aim in yesterday’s article was to give an overview of the spiritual value of this site and the development which threatens it. I touched only briefly on one facet of the planned park which I feel is deserving of an article of its own, and that is the city’s plans to saturate the area with a toxic herbicide known as Garlon 4.
If you are new to understanding herbicide toxicity, the first place you need to start is by looking at the legal Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product. Here is the MSDS for Garlon 4. It’s a long document, definitely worth your time reading if you live in the Glen Cove area. Here are what I see as the most salient points in the data sheet:
- Garlon 4 is listed as a ‘marine pollutant’. The city of Vallejo’s plan is, of course, to spray this right there at the waterside. It is reprehensible to introduce a marine pollutant into a marine ecosystem, poisoning the water and all things that live in it. The MSDS specific warns people to keep this product away from ‘soil, ditches, sewers, waterways and/or groundwater’. Considering that the city of Vallejo plans to spray this on the ‘soil’ and right at the ‘waterway’, contamination is guaranteed.
- Garlon 4 will be used to kill those plants scientists have deemed to be non-native. On a spiritual level, it is ironic that local governments, chiefly made up of newcomers to the Americas, feel justified in overriding the claims and needs of Native Americans while dealing out death to non-native plants. The Native Americans currently occupying Glen Cove have stated unequivocally that they feel all plants that have rooted at the burial ground should be respected and protected, regardless of origin, and this spiritual approach to the ecosystem affirms life instead of destroying in. On a scientific level, anything that ends in the syllable ‘cide’ (as in pesticide, herbicide, fungicide and rodenticide…or homocide and suicide) means death. Spraying death to plants means spraying death all around humans, too. Cell death in humans and plants is practically identical, so what we do to plants, we also do to ourselves on a smaller scale.
- Garlon 4′s ingredients have been found to cause birth defects and tumors in animal studies and are confirmed carcinogens (cause cancer). This knowledge is of absolute importance to all residents whose homes line this cove and it is listed right there in the Material Safety Data Sheet.
- Finally, for those living along the cove or for the protesters camping there, here is direct language from the MSDS about inhaling this herbicide:
“Aspiration into the lungs may occur during ingestion or vomiting, causing lung damage or even death due to chemical pneumonia”.
So, yes, exposure to Garlon 4 can be fatal to human begins.
Why, then, do public officials speak of such chemical products as safe? Basically, they are depending on your ignorance to get away with statements like this. They have either been lied to by chemical companies or agencies who spray chemicals, or they are receiving financial benefits in some way by contracting with chemical companies. These agencies are depending on you not reading the Material Safety Data Sheets for the products that are constantly being sprayed on public parks, roadsides, parking lots, schools and agricultural fields. And, unfortunately, major newspapers frequently reprint these vague claims of ‘safety’ of herbicides without doing their own homework first.
My best hope here is that everyone living in Vallejo will take 5 minutes to read the Material Safety Data Sheet for Garlon 4, so that they are not being duped. You definitely do not need to be exposed to the carcinogenic components of Garlon 4, and the very idea of creating a public park that is saturated with this known toxic substance is repugnant and ridiculous. Will you really want to take your dog for a walk, your children for a stroll or have a picnic in the middle of a toxic wasteland?
To the good people currently camping at Glen Cove, I want to close with this important message: should you see the chemical applicators appear at the cove with hand or backpack spraying tools, please understand the risk you are taking by remaining in the area. Definitely read the safety sheet, and remember that herbicides are always most toxic to children, elders and people who are already in poor health.
The MSDS recommends that people applying this herbicide wear protective glasses and suits. It is doubtful that the city of Vallejo will provide such equipment to the protesters or all of the families living in the houses along Glen Cove. If you breathe this herbicide, or it gets in your eyes or on your skin, you need to get to a hospital immediately.
Whether residents of Vallejo stand in solidarity with the protection of Glen Cove for its spiritual importance or not, every single person living in the area should be able to see the wisdom of preventing their own exposure to these proposed herbicide applications. Who doesn’t know someone battling cancer these days? This is something that everyone should know and care about, and I would urge you to consider what you can do to educate yourself about herbicide use in Glen Cove and the Bay Area at large and to see what you can do to prevent this chronic and totally unnecessary exposure to toxic harms.
Photo Credit, in part: ProtectGlenCove.org