• Does Glyphosate Pose a Health Risk in Drinking Water?

    Does Glyphosate Pose a Health Risk in Drinking Water?

    In August 2018 a jury awarded a dying man $289 million in damages after he claimed glyphosate in Monsanto's common weed killer, Roundup, caused his terminal cancer. Dewayen Johnson, a school groundsman in Benicia, California was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma back in 2014. This landmark lawsuit sets a precedent for over 5,000 plaintiffs across the country filing similar lawsuits.

    (Side Note) Yes, the Black Berkey filters have been tested to remove glyphosate to below lab detectable limits of >75%, which was the limitation of the testing equipment.

    Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a non-selective herbicide that was discovered in 1973 and commercially produced in 1974. Today it is the most widely applied agricultural chemical on the planet. A 2015 study published in Environmental Sciences Europe revealed that since coming into production in 1974, an alarming 9.4 million tons of glyphosate has been applied to crops and agricultural fields across the world, 1.8 million of which where applied to crops grown on American soil.

    A bottle of round-up pesticide A bottle of round-up pesticide

    Because this chemical is so heavily used, and its use is so widespread, it raises some very important questions. Can it get into our drinking water, and if so, what are the health implications?

    The guide below outlines some of the key issues to help you better understand your risk of exposure via your drinking water; explaining how glyphosate can get into your drinking water, and whether it poses a health risk to you and your family if it does.

    How does glyphosate get into drinking water?

    A 2007 report, titled Public Health Goal for GLYPHOSATE in Drinking Water, suggests that while glyphosate shows an affinity to soil, it can leach into surface water bodies and groundwater systems via two primary pathways: 1) When the herbicide is blown into water bodies that lie adjacent to fields sprayed with Roundup; and 2) Via runoff when sprayed fields are irrigated, which can contaminate water bodies further away. Because glyphosate is stable in water, it does not readily degrade, but rather persists in the aquatic environment.

    The most likely route of exposure to humans is by directly inhaling or through skin contact with the chemical, or indirectly by drinking water contaminated with Roundup, or consuming crops that have been sprayed with it.

    Crops being sprayed with the pesticide glyphosate Crops being sprayed with the pesticide glyphosate

    While the majority of lawsuits currently underway involve plaintiffs who were directly exposed to Roundup after using the product in their gardens, school yards or farms, there have been instances where drinking water facilities have reported glyphosate levels that are higher than the EPA's safety standard for drinking water (0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb) and the much lower level recommended by the Environmental Working Group (0.5 mg/L or 5 parts per billion). In effect, people living in the communities these facilities serve potentially now face a a greater risk of developing cancer than people not exposed to glyphosate in their drinking water.

    Does exposure to Glyphosate in drinking water pose a health risk?

    While Monsanto maintains that Roundup does not cause cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (ISRC) thinks otherwise, listing glyphosate as a Group 2A chemical, meaning it's "probably carcinogenic to humans". Animal studies show a link between cancer and exposure to glyphosate, while the limited observations on humans show that exposure is associated with the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Exposure to glyphosate is also linked to kidney disorders, problems with the reproductive system and impaired fetal growth, as well a disruption to the endocrine system.

    Does Berkey Remove Glysophate

    The best way to ensure the water you drink is free from potentially harmful glyphosate is to filter it with a good quality drinking water filter. Black Berkey filters have been tested to remove glyphosate to below lab detectable limits of >75%, which was the limitation of the testing equipment — the actual removal rate may be much higher.

  • Exposure to Herbicide Evident in Pregnant Women

    A study conducted on a cohort of pregnant women living in Central Indiana has detected glyphosate — the chemical toxin used in Roundup and other herbicides — in over 90% of the mothers-to-be.

    In a report that was recently published in the scientific journal Environmental Health, the authors suggest that glyphosate levels are linked to shorter pregnancy terms, which can have negative lifelong impacts on the offspring.

    "There is growing evidence that even a slight reduction in gestational length can lead to lifelong adverse consequences," said Shahid Parvez, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Science at Indiana University and lead author of the study.

    This is the first US study of its kind to analyze urine samples of pregnant women to directly assess their exposure to the chemical glyphosate.


    According to Parvez, the study's primary finding was that of the 71 moms-to-be that made up the study cohort, 93% were found to have glyphosate at detectable levels in their urine. Glyphosate levels were higher in women living in rural areas, and in women who drank more caffeinated drinks.

    While glyphosate exposure in pregnant women cannot be denied, Parvez says that the primary source of this exposure may not necessarily be drinking water, as they initially thought. None of the drinking water samples they tested had any trace of glyphosate present, indicating that glyphosate is most likely removed during the water treatment process. However, consumption of genetically modified foods, as well as caffeinated drinks are suspected of being two primary sources of glyphosate.


    Glyphosate is used extensively in the American Midwest as a result of soybean and corn production. Residues of the herbicide can be found contaminating the environment, as well as major crops, including food items that people across the country consume daily.

    "Although our study cohort was small and regional and had limited racial or ethnic diversity, it provides direct evidence of maternal glyphosate exposure and a significant correlation with shortened pregnancy," Parvez said.

    Parvez notes that the extent of glyphosate exposure in mothers-to-be and the link between exposure and shorter gestation terms are cause for concern and warrant further investigation. Parvez hopes to expand this study to include more diversity, both ethnically and geographically, in the next cohort of pregnant women examined to determine whether the outcome will be the same.

    To reduce the likelihood of exposure to toxic pesticides such as glyphosate, it is recommended that you filter your drinking water with a good quality drinking water filter that is capable of removing pesticide contaminants, and choose healthy organically grown fresh produce and food products wherever possible.

    Journal Reference

    S. Parvez, R. R. Gerona, C. Proctor, M. Friesen, J. L. Ashby, J. L. Reiter, Z. Lui, P. D. Winchester. Glyphosate exposure in pregnancy and shortened gestational length: a prospective Indiana birth cohort study. Environmental Health, 2018; 17 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12940-018-0367-0

  • Safety Standards of Common Herbicide Chemical (glyphosate) Urgently Need to be Reviewed

    Glyphosate — a chemical that is used in many weedkillers and also that the Black Berkey Filters remove — may be detrimental to environmental and public health, and the safety standards regarding its usage are in urgent need of review, a new study suggests.

    According to the authors of the study, which was recently published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, the current standards are outdated and urgently need to be reviewed, taking cognizance of new scientific findings to address potential health risks the public may face when exposed to these hazardous chemicals.

    round up

    The European Chemicals Agency recently gave glyphosate the green light, ruling that is was not associated with an increased risk of cancer in humans. This outcome will strongly influence the European Commission's decision on whether or not to allow the use of this chemical once again.

    Back home in the United States, the use of glyphosate has rapidly increased over the last twenty years, with it currently being the most commonly used weedkiller across the country. Furthermore, global estimates of glyphosate use suggest that in 2014 alone, the amount of glyphosate used equated to around half a kilogram being sprayed on every one hectare of crops grown around the entire world.

    Glyphosate is used to kill weeds before planting crops and to control their regrowth after crops are planted. It is also applied to help induce the natural drying process of seeds before they are harvested. Chemical residues have been found in various crops, including barley, wheat, soybeans as well as a variety of other food crops. Herbicides can also leach through soils to into groundwater and aquifers or wash into surface waters with runoff, where they can potentially contaminate drinking water sources.

    However, according to the authors, the scientific evidence used in support of the current US safety standards is based on research that was conducted over thirty years ago, and which was not subjected to the peer review process. Since then new studies have been conducted on glyphosate, with over 1500 studies being published in the last ten years alone.

    "It is incongruous that safety assessments of the most widely used herbicide on the planet rely largely on fewer than 300 unpublished, non-peer reviewed studies while excluding the vast modern literature on glyphosate effects," the authors point out.

    Yet, despite its rapid expansion in use, there is currently no method of monitoring glyphosate levels in humans and very few studies have assessed the potential health risks to humans.

    However, recent studies conducted on animals suggest that low doses of glyphosate may be associated with an increased risk of damage to organs such as the kidney, liver and eyes, as well as the cardiovascular system. There is still some debate as to whether glyphosate can potentially disrupt hormone functioning or whether it poses and increased cancer risk.

    According to the authors, "weed-killers, which combine glyphosate with other 'so-called inert ingredients,' may be even more potent. But these mixtures are regarded as commercially sensitive by the manufacturers and are therefore not available for public scrutiny."

    The researchers are calling for:

    1. Improved monitoring of glyphosate (and glyphosate metabolite) levels in humans.
    2. Applying modern technology and testing methods to risk assessment of glyphosate and other combination herbicides.
    3. Research focusing on the health impact of occupation exposure to glyphosate (e.g. Agricultural workers, workers in manufacturing plants, as well as the impact on pregnant women and their infants).
    4. An evaluation of commercial combination herbicides that contain glyphosate.

    "After a review of all evaluations, we conclude that the current safety standards are outdated and may fail to protect public health and the environment," the researchers conclude.

    The black berkey filters that come standard with all our Berkey water filter systems will remove at least 75% of the glysophate in the water. (Removal results most likely much higher, however lab testing equipment not sensitive enough to test to smaller lower removal limits.)

    Journal Reference

    Vandenberg LN, Blumberg B, Antoniou MN, et al. Is it time to reassess current safety standards for glyphosate-based herbicides? J Epidemiol Community Health. Published Online First: 20 March 2017. doi: 10.1136/jech-2016-208463

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