TUESDAY, July 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — More than 80 percent of Americans have a widely used herbicide detectable in their urine, a new government study suggests. The chemical — glyphosate — is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer has said. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a well-known weed killer.

The U.S. National Nutrition Examination Survey revealed the herbicide was found in 1,885 of 2,310 urine samples that were representative of the U.S. population. Nearly a third of the samples came from children ages 6 to 18 years. Traces of the herbicide have previously been found in children’s cereals, baby formula, organic beer and wine, hummus, and chickpeas.

“Children in the U.S. are regularly exposed to this cancer-causing weed killer through the food they eat virtually every day,” Alex Temkin, a toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement issued Monday. “The Environmental Protection Agency should take concrete regulatory action to dramatically lower the levels of glyphosate in the food supply and protect children’s health.”

German pharmaceutical company Bayer purchased the Roundup brand when it bought the agrochemical company Monsanto in 2018, CBS News reported. In 2020, the EPA determined that the chemical was not a serious health risk and “not likely” to cause cancer in humans. However, a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to reexamine those findings last month.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month rejected Bayer’s bid to shut down ongoing lawsuits over whether the herbicide causes cancer. The justices also let a $25 million judgment on behalf of a California man stand. In that case, the plaintiff said he developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from decades of using Roundup on his property, CBS News reported.

So far, Bayer has won four cases in state courts where plaintiffs alleged that Roundup caused their cancer, CBS News said. The company continues to assert that the herbicide is safe, but plans to replace it in Roundup intended for residential use beginning next year. The chemical will still be included in products meant for professional and farm use.

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