Herbicide Roundup Out at Student Life Center

UH Hilo looks to replace Roundup with something more natural

Editor-in-Chief Peter Holden Chao

A worker spraying herbicide

Ke Kalahea published a story in November 2018 titled “The Roundup Rumor,” in which Copy Editor Rosannah Gosser outlined the use of the herbicide Roundup WeatherMax on UH Hilo’s campus; but now Roundup is out.

Following the publication of “The Roundup Rumor,” a groundskeeper at UH Hilo’s Student Life Center was seen spraying the herbicide on the outdoor volleyball court without proper safety equipment. On Nov. 16, this photo was posted on the UH Hilo app. The herbicide had been administered after a night of rain and hours before the rain continued. Since that time, the individual pictured told Ke Kalahea he had not been asked to spray Roundup.

Roundup WeatherMax works as a weed killer that uses the chemical compound glyphosate to inhibit the ability for the plants to build proteins and grow. Glyphosate has been called “the most commonly used active ingredient in the herbicide industry” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Categorized as a general-use herbicide, Roundup WeatherMax can be purchased without special license or training; any caveat that the applicator should be aware of is stated explicitly in the fine print on its label. The applicator’s are advised to wear long-sleeves, socks, shoes, and gloves made of waterproof material. The warning label on Roundup cautions users about being sprayed in the eyes, contact with skin and clothing, and inhalation,

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in March 2015. Two separate court cases have found that Roundup was the cause of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in two individuals; numerous cities have banned glyphosate including Miami and a moratorium on the herbicide in Los Angeles County. The herbicide has also been restricted in numerous countries.

In an email correspondence with Interim Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs, Kalei Rapoza wrote, “we are going to be looking at alternatives to Roundup, something more natural. Ideally, I'd like to see that kind of solution (pun intended) come from a student project studying in CAFNRM, TCBES, or another major/department. We'll be discussing this idea with those professors to see what kind of synergy we can develop there.”