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Aerial Herbicide Spraying
by Carrie James


June 19, 2004

I agree with Linda Hanson about opposing Aerial Herbicide spraying. It endangers all wildlife, marine-life and vegetation that are used everyday for our subsistence way of life and herbal medicinal uses. This is used not only for natives but non natives as well. This would be a serious mistake if this permit is allowed. It does boil down to money; this is what it is all about.

I attended the 69th Annual Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska General Assembly Convention held in Juneau as a Delegate for the community of Ketchikan. The Ketchikan Chapter brought a resolution that Central Council adopted "opposing Aerial herbicide spraying of Long Island", as well as other communities that brought forth similar resolutions opposing Aerial herbicide spraying. KIC also brought a resolution two years ago opposing Aerial herbicide spraying. The native communities support the opposition of Aerial herbicide spraying in support of our brothers and sisters that subsist off of Long Island.

At the hearing held here in Ketchikan last week the chairperson said that roadside spraying of arsenal and roundup has been taking place on Long Island for the last five or six years without alerting the community of Haidaburg and other communities of Prince of Wales. This was claimed to be totally within their legal rights, but this is a clear violation of morals and ethics not let the communities/IRA's know that the food/medicine practically in their back yard was being poisoned for the over have a decade. There are reports of wildlife running around with big tumors hanging off of the bodies which hunters shot to just put the deer out of their misery and the meat was not used for fear of eating contaminated meat. What is wrong with this picture? Alaska is the last frontier, let's protect our State and say "NO! To aerial herbicide spraying". I read so many articles saying the chemicals in Imazapyr, also known as "Arsenal, Assault, Chopper" and Glyphosate also known as "Round-up, Rodeo, and Accord" is HARMLESS and equivalent to table salt. This is totally false, an out right "LIE!" I would like to see the person who said this to use these toxic chemicals in place of their table salt for a week and see the condition they are in after ingesting these toxic poisons. I have available the real facts of the toxic hazards of these poisonous chemicals that I got from ACAT (Alaska Community Action on Toxics)

Please read further on the next few pages of reports from ACAT (Alaska Community Action on Toxics) to let this be the real eye opener to the dangers that await if this aerial permit is passed.


FACTS ABOUT IMAZAPYR, also known as Arsenal, Assault, Chopper

Imazapyr is a broad-spectrum herbicide manufactured by American Cynamid Co. under the product names Arsenal, Chopper and Assault. It has been registered in the United States since 1984. Imazapyr is toxic to almost every plant it comes in contact with, as it kills by inhibiting the enzyme plants use to synthesize amino acids. Within hours of treatment, the ability to synthesize DNA is obliterated and soon afterward all growth ceases. The complete death of the plant, however, can take as long as a month. The fact that imazapur is so universally toxic to plants makes is uniquely dangerous to non-target plants: as little as 1/50 of a typical application can damage crop plants.

Information Unavailable to the Public

One of the reasons that there is little specific information about direct results of imazapyr-containing herbicides on humans, animals, and ecosystems when compared unadulterated imazapyr is that there are so few studies readily available to public researchers. There are n o publicly available studies on the distance that imazapyr can drift, or the general chronic toxicity, chronic effects on humans, reproductive hazards, carcinogenicity, and chronic effects on fish and birds of imazapur-containing herbicides. His is important, as studies have shown that many chemicals become more potent in toxicity when combined with other ingredients, as herbicides are 47% of Arsenal Applicators Concentrate, the most common imazapyr-containing herbicide, is comprised of ingredients whose identities are not available to the public, as it is not required under law to identify "inert" ingredients. Most of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's assessment of the health hazards posed by Arsenal is based on tests of pure imazapur, not of all ingredients contained in the herbicide.

Health Hazards

One of the primary breakdown products of imazapur is quinolinic acid, which is irritating the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. In addition, it is a neurotoxin, and causes nerve lesions and symptoms similar to Huntington's disease.

Although there is limited information on imazapur herbicides, there have been several studies on the effects of pure imazapur on animals that can be correlated to the chemical's potential for affecting human health.
Rabbits dermally exposed to imazapur and rats inhaling Arsenal both showed bleeding and congested lungs. Congestion of the liver, intestine, and kidneys was also observed.
Rabbits given imazapur orally exhibited stomach ulcers and intestinal lesions at most doses tested.
There is no information on the hazards imazapyr and imazapyr herbicides pose to fish. However, a closely related herbicide (imazamethabenz-methyl) has high chronic toxicity to fish, with effects occurring at concentrations less than one part per million.
Mice and rats fed sub lethal doses of imazapyr over two years showed fluid accumulation I the air sacs of the lungs, brain congestion, kidney cysts, abnormal blood formation in the spleen, blood pooling in the liver, thyroid cysts, tumors, and cancers, brain tumors, adrenal gland tumors and cancers, and decreased food efficiency.
Rabbits dermally exposed to imazapyr herbicides for 21 days showed reddened, scaly, crusted skin. A single exposure showed swelling and redness.

High Persistence

Field studies have shown that imazapyr persists for 60 to 436 days in soil, with most tests showing persistence longer than a year. These are minimum estimates, however, because in almost all studies imazapyr still persisted on the last day.

The length of time a given chemical remains viable in an environment is dependant not only on its own properties but on climate, weather, soil type, and other variables. In the case of imazapyr, it seems that another key aspect of our understanding of its persistence is the method by which we measure its presence in that environment. Studies have given widely varying conclusions on the persistency of imazapyr; half-lives (the time it takes for half of the amount of herbicide applied to break down or move away) have been measured ranging from 21 days to 49 months in field studies. The cause of this discrepancy seems to be whether the researchers were testing for the presence of imazapyr by looking for residue identifiable by lab techniques, or for imazapyr-caused damage to plant life. All studies testing for damage to plants show longer persistence, suggesting that imazapyr can cause damage to plants at concentrations too low to detect in laboratories.

Contamination of Water

Although studies of the effects of imazapyr on water quality are few, research suggests that imazapyr readily causes contamination problems.

  • Imazapyr is highly mobile in soil, and thus easily contaminated groundwater. Alabama studies showed that imazapyr was more mobile in soil even than widespread water contaminant atrazine.
  • Imazapyr was found in surface water in the Southeastern United States following aerial applications at both of the two forestry sites for which data are available to the public.
  • Imazapyr was found in surface water in the Pacific Northwest following aerial forestry application.
  • One field study showed that 40-70% of imazapyr applied in a given area leached to the lowest water depth tested.
  • Another study found "significant" residues of imazapyr leached to depths of 4.9 to 9.9 feet.
  • Ozone degradation (a treatment to remove pesticides from drinking water) does not work on imazapyr, removing only half of the chemical present in samples.

Dangers Posed to Non-Target Plants

Imazapyr is deadly to almost all plants in several ways. However, there are documented examples of weeds worldwide developing resistance to imazapyr herbicides. These plants, which include different ryegrass varieties, Russian thistle, and common chickweed, as well as some algae species, have developed resistance caused in at least one case by the single-point mutation of an enzyme. The fact that these plants can absorb normally lethal doses of the chemical without apparent harm does not mean the herbicides are less toxic, but that the plants are now carriers of the residue as they reproduce, move into new geographical locations and decompose.
Imazapyr increases the susceptibility of plants to disease.
Imazapyr poses specific risks to endangered plants species, because in such populations the loss of a few plants can have significant consequences. The Fish and Wildlife Service has identified 100 counties in 24 states where endangered species would be at risk from forestry use of Arsenal (no such analysis is publicly available for Western states).
Imazapyr can disrupt the ability of soil to decompose plant material by inhibiting the ability of enzymes to break down cellulose.

(ACAT researcher Katie Bryson based this report on a scientific article written by Caroline Cox and published by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides in the Journal of Pesticide Reform vol.16, no.3, fall 1996 you may request a copy of the full article and further information by contacting Alaska Community Action on Toxic at (907) 222-7714. ACAT e-mail: ACAT website:

Facts about GLYPHOSATE, Round-Up, Rodeo, Accord

The second chemical proposed for aerial spraying

Glyphosate is the main chemical component in many non-selective herbicides used to kill broad-leaved, grass and sedge species. It has been registered for use in the United States since 1974, and is manufactured largely by Monsanto Co. under the trade names Round-Up, Rodeo, and Accord.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), glyphosate is the "most used conventional pesticide in the United States." Estimated annual use rose to over 100 millions pounds per year in 2001, and glyphosate is recognized as the second most commonly used pesticide in both agricultural and non-agricultural applications (industrial, commercial, forestry, and privately-owned lands) in the U.S.; twenty-give million widely debated within the scientific community.

False Research

The EPA has twice caught scientists deliberately falsifying results at research laboratories hired by Monsanto to study glyphosate.

In 1983, the EPA revealed that Industrial Biotest Laboratories (IBL) routinely falsified results of their 1971 research performed on glyphosate. Tests performed at IBL included eleven out of nineteen total chronic toxicology studies on glyphosate; studies instrumental in its retaining registration in 1974.

In 1991, the EPA alleged that Craven Laboratories, another lab hired by Monsanto to study the effects of glyphosate, had falsified test results. Several methods were used, including manipulation of equipment and notebook entries.

Illegal Advertising

Monsanto has twice been caught breaking the national pesticide law against false advertising.

In 1996, the New York Attorney General required the company to stop making patently false claims about glyphosate in advertisements. Monsanto had marketed their products as being" "safer than table salt", and degrading "soon after application." In fact, glyphosate herbicides were the eighth most common cause of pesticide illness in agricultural workers in California between 1998 and 2000.

In 1998, the EPA made a similar determination about these advertisements, but no action was taken against the company, as it had taken the Environmental Protection Agency two years to classify the ads.

Lasting Effects on Human Health

Contrary to the claims of the manufacturer, both independent and governmental research has shown that glyphosate takes a serious toll on human and animal health. These studies suggest Rodeo, Round-Up, Accord, and other products containing glyphosate are linked to cancer, reproductive problems such as reduced sperm counts, increased numbers of dead or abnormal sperm and miscarriages, harmful changes in blood chemistry, and genetic mutations. Despite these research results, governmental regulating agencies have failed to remove these products from the market, and Monsanto continues to market their herbicides as benign.

  • A recent Swedish study showed that people with occupational exposure to glyphosate have a threefold higher risk of hairy cell leukemia, a form of the cancer non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
  • Canadian farmers' use of glyphosate was associated with miscarriage and premature birth in their families.
  • In Red River Valley, Minnesota, farm children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) were over three times more likely to have parents who used glyphosate herbicides than children without ADD.
  • A case study from the University of California reports a student athlete who experienced abnormally frequent menstruation when competing at tracks where glyphosate had been used.
  • Pregnant rats given glyphosate in drinking water showed enzyme alterations in the livers, hearts and brains of their fetuses.
  • In mice injected with glyphosate, chromosome and DNA damage both increased.
  • Mice and rats given glyphosate in a long-term study showed excessive cell division in the urinary bladder and inflammation of the stomach lining.
  • Rats given glyphosate got tumors in the kidney, testicles, pancreas and liver, as well as thyroid cancer.
  • Calves exposed to small amounts of glyphosate herbicides developed diarrhea and loss of appetite. At large doses (790 mg/kg per day for seven days), pneumonia was observed and a third of the calves died.

Glyphosate is also poisonous to humans and animals in an immediate sense. When people swallow glyphosate, breathe it, bathe in or drink contaminated water, or get glyphosate on their skin, they can experience a wide range of reactions, including those that can complicate existing conditions:
Burning of eyes or skin
Blurred vision
Intestinal pain and vomiting
Skin or eye lesions
Difficulty breathing
Heart palpitations
Elevated blood pressure
Excess fluid in the lungs
Clouded consciousness
Destruction of red blood cells
Swelling and blistering of the genitals
Swollen eyes or face
Blisters or rash
Burning in chest and throat

Glyphosate-containing herbicides are more toxic to animals and humans than pure glyphosate, likely because of the combinations of additional toxic components, such as surfactants and both active and inert ingredients. Despite this, there are no publicly available laboratory studies of the carcinogenity of glyphosate herbicides in comparison to pure glyphosate. However:
Glyphosate-containing herbicides are more potent mutagens than pure glyphosate.
A glyphosate herbicide, but not unadulterated glyphosate alone, caused a decrease of 90% in the production of sex hormones in the testicles of male mice.
A glyhphosate herbicide is 20-70% times more toxic to fish than glyphosate itself.
A "synergistic interaction between glyphosate and the inert ingredients in Roundup" delayed the first cell division in sea urchin embryos by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme involved in cell division, and by inhibiting protein synthesis in the embryo.

Critical Effects of Glyphosate on Fish

Alaska has an economic and cultural dependence on the welfare of salmon and other fish species, so it is particularly vital for Alaskans to know that glyphosate, and even more so glyphosate herbicides, are acutely toxic to fish.

The toxicity of glyphosate, which is most potently dangerous to younger fish, increases as water temperature rises. Ironically, the use of glyphosate causes water temperatures to increase for several years following treatment, as the herbicide kills shading vegetation. This is significant in more than one way for salmon, as juvenile salmon require cold water to thrive under even normal environmental circumstances.

The effects of glyphosate on fish have been documented using rainbow trout, which exhibited erratic swimming and labored breathing, effects which can increase the risk that fish will be eaten, as well as affecting ability to feed, migrate, and reproduce.

Effects of Glyphosate on Non-Target Plants

Many living things cannot process nitrogen, a basic element of life on earth, in its common form. Instead they use rare nitrogen compounds created processes called nitrogen fixation and nitrification, carried out by bacteria on nodules on the roots of plants like alder, clover, and legumes. At a concentration corresponding to typical application rates, glyphosate reduced by 70% the nitrogen-fixing nodules on clover planted 120 days after treatment.
Glyphosate has been found in lettuce planted five months after treatment, as well as in barley planted four months after treatment.
The World Health Organization reported "significant residues on wheat after pre-harvested use." Bran contained two to four times the amount found on whole grains, residues which were not lost in the baking process.
Plant susceptibility varies widely with species: some wildflowers are nearly a hundred times more sensitive than others, and some perennial plants, when subjected to sub lethal doses, show damage with symptoms lasting several years.
The degradation of glyphosate leads to metabolites which can persist in soil for up to three years.
The presence of glyphosate causes the production of phytoestrogens in legumes, which mimic the role of reproductive hormones in mammals after being consumed.
Canadian research indicates that plants serving as important wildlife food sources are significantly impaired by the use of glyphosate. "Severe" to "very severe" damage was recorded for 46% of the food species eaten by moose.

(ACAT researcher Katie Bryson based this report largely on a 15-page scientific article written by Caroline Cox and published b y the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides in the Journal of Pesticide Reform vol.18, no.3, fall 1998 (updated 2002). You may request a copy of the full article and other sources by contacting Alaska Community Action on Toxic at (907) 222-7714.

ACAT e-mail: ACAT website:

Please carefully think about what the State of Alaska is considering as far as giving the requested permit to Klukwan Inc. Submit your letters of concern and demand the State of Alaska not to hand out this permit. If the State of Alaska does give this permit for Aerial herbicide spraying than it would set precedence for S.E. Alaska and this would cause the "domino effect". Let's hold the State of Alaska accountable if this goes through. The research speaks for itself. Please speak out to protect our home Alaska.

This is my opinion based on the facts.


Carrie L. James

Ketchikan, AK - USA



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