Glyphosate Follow Up — Danger to Pets

by Marty Fisher, EMGV

Version 2

We recently used glyphosate (an active ingredient in Roundup) on some vicious and pernicious weeds that were growing in the gravel pathways in our garden. Without thinking, I let our Siamese kitty, Elsa, out shortly afterwards. About an hour later, she was at the door, drooling, vomiting, teary eyed, and obviously very uncomfortable.

Not even thinking about the weed killer, I googled cat drool and found a number of possible causes, including pesticides and insecticides. So, I then googled glyphosate and cat drool, and low and behold, all of her symptoms were listed. I feel sure she walked through weeds that had been sprayed, and then licked her paws. I felt terrible!

The information I found online said to offer water, which I did, but she was not interested. She didn’t seem gravely ill, and the online information indicated it would likely resolve itself. After sleeping the rest of the day and night, she was fine the next day.

The label says it is safe for pets and children—but only after it dries completely. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, pets who come into contact with a wet herbicide may drool, have stomach upset, lose their appetite, or become sleepy.

Other chemicals used in mixtures with glyphosate can be the real problem. The label also listed the active ingredient diquat dibromide. According to a study conducted by the California Environmental Protection Agency Department of Pesticide Regulation, diquat dibromide causes cateracts in dogs and rats., and as the potential to cause cataracts in humans.

Diquat is added to some formulations of herbicide, really just to make consumers feel like they have accomplished something. Glyphosate itself can take a while to work, so it is often mixed with a kicker like diquat that has more immediate action. However, those faster pesticides tend to just burn the leaves, which looks good, but can actually hurt the efficacy of the glyphosate, which is the real heavy lifter.  Chemicals like diquat can also have more harmful side effects because they are meant to cause chemical/physical damage more or less on contact, as opposed to being more  systemic within plant like glyphosate.

Before you let your pets out after spraying a commercial weed killer, double-check to be sure the area is completely dry. And, as with all chemical pesticides and insecticides, use it judiciously and only as a last resort.

National Pesticide Information Center:
California EPA study:
Read Marty’s previous and post about glyphosate here.




Learn With Us, Week of July 29

Planning Now for a Fall Harvest
Saturday, August 4, 10:00am – 12:00pm
For Garden’s Sake
9197 NC-751, Durham, NC 27713
Description:The approach of cooler temperatures bodes well for vegetable gardeners. Now that the tomatoes and squash are mere memories, we’ll replace them with the things that will make Thanksgiving special.
Also discussed will be overwintering vegetables and cover crops for your beds.

All events are free unless a fee is indicated. All events are hosted at Garden Center. Please register in advance as spots are limited. Email or call Ann at 919-484-8759, ext. 100.

Learn With Us, Week of July 22

Rain Gardens 
Sunday, July 22, 3:00 – 4:00pm
Durham County Library – North Regional Library
221 Milton Rd, Durham, NC 27712
Description:A rain garden allows water to percolate down into the ground slowly, recharging your ground water and minimizing the amount of soil and fertilizer that would otherwise be lost through runoff. Explore the beauty and functionality of rain gardens with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers Georganne Sebastian and Darcey Martin. They will discuss the where, why, and wow of water conservation through residential rain gardens.

North Regional Library, 221 Milton Road, Durham, NC 27712 3:00-4:00pm
Classes are free. Registration is required.

Register with Pana Jones, EMGV Coordinator via email at or call her at 919 560-0521.

Durham Garden Forum Gardener’s Fair
Tuesday, July 24, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708
Description:2018 Gardener’s Fair, Durham Garden Forum
Featuring area  Experts and garden suppliers

Exhibits Include:
Products and Plants
Amendments and composting
Maintenance strategies and products
And more
Breakout Demonstrations:
Decorating with succulents

This is a free event.
No pre-registration necessary. Free parking after 5:00 pm
When: July 24, 2018 (Tuesday)
Where: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC, Doris Duke Center

Perennials and Pollinators 
Thursday, July 26, 2:00 – 3:00pm
Durham County Library – North Regional Library
221 Milton Rd, Durham, NC 27712
Description:Perennials, Pollinators and Color
Chris Apple, Durham County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer will discuss with you how perennials can attract pollinators to our gardens and investigate how we can use those perennials to interject color or interest into our gardens throughout the year.

North Regional Library, 221 Milton Road, Durham, NC 27712 2:00-3:00pm
Classes are free. Registration is required.

Register with Pana Jones, EMGV Coordinator via email at or call her at 919 560-0521.

Protect Your Skin this Summer

by Jane Malec, EMGV

After an enjoyable sunny afternoon in my garden far too often I have come inside with my skin on fire. Most likely it’s my arms that have turned some shade of red and are hot to the touch and tender.  It would have been one of those days when I suddenly realized there was extra time in the day to run outside and play. The plan would have been to do a little weeding or tuck a new plant into a tired looking container.  Fifteen minutes turns into an hour or more. The yard looks better but the gardener is worse for the wear.

Sometimes the after affects a sunny afternoon can have you reaching for the aloe vera bottle but the unseen damage to your health cause from too much sun exposure is potentially much worse. There is no shortage of available information warning us that excess sun can cause everything from unattractive brown spots as we age to potentially fatal melanoma. It’s clear that we need to protect our precious skin while gardening  as much as any other outdoor activity, but still some of us take risks.

The Dangers of Sun Exposure
The results of a Consumer’s Report survey conducted in 2014 revealed that more than 50% of the respondents did not use sunscreen and, among those in the age group of 60 and older, that number jumped to 61%.  It shouldn’t then be surprising that the incidents of non-melanoma skin cancers jumped 77% in the years between 2000 and 2014. The rates of  melanoma, the most deadly form skin cancer, have also increased. We would like to think gardeners are very aware of this health danger but, even still, many of us know at least one “dirt digger” who has had a form of skin cancer. If you and I have met, you know at least one person.  Other health issues besides cancer include cataracts, immune suppression and premature aging of the skin.

In the past, the experts erroneously believed that most sun damage occurred by the age of 18 leading people to believe that the damage was done so no need for protection as they grew older. The expert opinion has changed. By the age of 40 we have racked up only 50% of lifetime sun exposure and the health risks continue to rise with age. Plus, as we age, many of us will begin taking medications, NASAIDS and statins for instance, that can increase sensitivity to the sun.

Protect Yourself
So, we know that it is nearly impossible to be a gardener and avoid exposure to the sun’s rays. There are options to lessen the risk.

  • Limit time in the midday sun which is usually referred as 10 am to 2 pm.  Some experts have range up to 4 pm. Avoid prolonged exposure.
  • Check the UV index ratings before heading out. Many weather phone apps can provide this information.
  • A cloudy day does not negate the risk. Follow the same procedures as sunny days.
  • Wear UV-protected sunglasses, a hat and tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing. If possible, wear clothing that is UPV rated.
  • Always wear sunscreen. Always wear sunscreen … always!

Protective Clothing – The New Frontier

Many improvements have been made to the sun-protective clothing offering over recent years. There is now a UPF (ultra violet protection factor) fabric rating system similar to that of sunscreen. The standards are voluntary but if the industry doesn’t adopted them, these standards could become mandatory. There are a growing number of companies that offer and even specialize in this clothing. Rash guards, popular in the surfing community, were one of the first widely used protective coverings and have been adopted by many sport enthusiasts. However, don’t be fooled by the ratings; Just as with sunscreen, no article of clothing will provide 100% protection from UV rays. Here are a few guidelines:

  • UPF ratings of Good, Very Good or Excellent are based on test results from the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists along with the ASTM (an international standard rating organization).
  • The approximate average percent of UV block denotes the value of the fabrics ability to block–no fabric can block 100% of UV rays.
  • There must be a specific numeric UPF value on the label or tag.
Typical UPF label information

The clothing is becoming much more fashionable and appealing with offerings such as pants, shirts, dresses and and wide brimmed hats. Also, for the serious sun avoider, there are arm protectors and face guards.

If you don’t want to invest in UPF clothing, choose wisely when pulling items out of the closet. Pick hats and clothing made from tightly woven and dark-in-color material. If you can see through the fabric, UV rays can penetrate it. Long sleeves and pant legs are important and a visor keeps sun off the face but provides no protection for the scalp which is very vulnerable to sun damage.

There are many choices in sunscreens – all range of colors, smells, and prices. Not all are effective in protecting against damaging sun rays.

  • SPF 15 is the minimum recommended protection; 30 + is the optimum.
  • SPF 15, for instance,  means a person can stay in the sun 15-times longer before burning.
  • SPF refers only to UVB rays; look for protection for UVA rays as well.
  • Check expiration dates on products and toss out after one to two years of use. A good rule of thumb is to replace product at the beginning of every summer season.
  • Reapply every two hours (more often if heavily sweating). Even high SPF sunscreens lose their effectiveness after this length of time.
  • Don’t forget to apply to ears, lips, necks, tops of feet or backs of hands and scalp.
  • Insect repellent may reduce effectiveness. Verify this before heading outside.
  • Read the label.

Some people have sensitivities to sunscreens with fragrances or ingredients like avobenzone. There are many sunscreens that use zinc or titanium oxide that are a good alternatives.

Enjoy Time in the Garden
Gardening is one of life’s sweet pleasures. It is a passion that evolves and brings joy no matter what our age. Let’s protect ourselves in the sun so that we will be around for every stage of the process … from planting our seeds to bringing the harvest to new generations. Be safe in the sun.


NCSU Skin saving facts

ACES The Danger of Sun Exposure

KSU Protective fabrics

Protecting yourself from the sun .. sunscreen basics.

ASTM International