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Summerlin residents push for change in how community, state use herbicides

Updated July 28, 2022 - 11:35 am

More than 1,500 people have signed a petition seeking a Nevada ban of products found in herbicides used regularly in Southern Nevada parks and landscaping areas.

The Change.org petition was started by a former Summerlin resident, Danielle Del Nodal, in an effort to stop the use of glyphosate and 2, 4-D in the Silver State. The products are found in herbicides such as Roundup and SpeedZone, which are used to control weeds in parks and public areas across the Las Vegas Valley.

“When you look at those products and look at those directions for use, under federal law, it is illegal to use those products in a way that can drift toward people or pets,” Del Nodal said.

Del Nodal also is responsible for getting a small group of Summerlin residents together to advocate for change in how the master-planned community handles weed control in its parks and public spaces.

“These products have been sprayed for the last 20 years in Summerlin and there’s been no notification to residents that they’ve been sprayed,” Del Nodal said.

She and other Summerlin residents seeking the change cited a study out of the University of Washington and other online reports, which contends that exposure to the herbicides increases the risk of some cancers. But the manufacturers of SpeedZone and Roundup say the products can be used safely, and are regularly approved for use by health agencies in more than 90 countries.

In May, about a dozen residents attended a Summerlin Council meeting in an attempt to convince the council to stop spraying Roundup and SpeedZone.

Danielle Eiferman and others said they believe the products are harmful to human and pet health. They told the Summerlin Council they want the council to seek alternatives when it comes to killing weeds in the community.

“We were told, ‘It’s all legal and all safe,’” Eiferman said. “My point at the meeting was so are cigarettes.”

The push to change Summerlin’s landscaping practices started after Del Nodal, now of Arizona, started posting on the social media space Nextdoor about the health problems of her dog, Mowgli.

In January, the dog became very ill, but veterinarians could not pinpoint what was causing the dog to have sores on its gums, trouble walking and repeated vomiting.

Del Nodal said shortly after Mowgli got sick, her husband was in their backyard with the dog when a landscaper preparing to spray herbicides drove by in a golf cart. The dog had a visceral reaction and became ill.

“I started trying to find out what they were spraying,” Del Nodal recalled, adding the Summerlin Council subsequently gave her paperwork showing both Roundup and SpeedZone were used for killing weeds in the community.

Del Nodal took to Nextdoor and the response was overwhelming, she said. Dozens of people posted concerns about their pets having any contact with the herbicides. When the advocates went to the Summerlin Council, they said they were told that Summerlin had temporarily stopped spraying Roundup and SpeedZone in the community because of resident concerns.

It is unclear, however, if spraying of the products has resumed. The Summerlin Council issued a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, saying the community useslicensed landscape and pest control contractors who meet or exceed all federal and state regulations and manufacturer specifications for herbicides.

“In an abundance of caution, while this issue was being researched, our Summerlin Council and master associations open space maintenance contractors paused use of certain products while also revisiting and renewing their ‘best practices’ open space management procedures,” the statement said.

Tests conducted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture found “no misapplication or impermissible concentration of common area maintenance products,” the statement read.

The statement also said that the community was evaluating “weed and pest control strategies in our parks and common area spaces.”

Del Nodal filed a complaint with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, which opened an investigation.

The Department of Agriculture said label reviews of SpeedZone and Roundup dictate how the products can be legally applied.

“As a result of this investigation, the NDA was unable to determine that pesticide misuse occurred,” the department said. “The pesticide applicator applied the product according to the label directions and Nevada pesticide laws and regulations.”

Some Summerlin residents, however, say they believe Summerlin should make immediate changes and stop applying the product in parks and walkways.

”They are allowing this to be sprayed here and we don’t understand why,” said resident Wendy Johnston.

Resident Pablo Gatti said the same, noting he’s never seen any required public notices of spraying of the products.

“I’ve lived here nine years,” Gatti said. “They’ve never posted a spray schedule.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.