The chemical 2,4-D is a primary ingredient in many common home-use herbicides and I always figured that it must be safe. This morning, I was disturbed to find this on OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for 2,4-D (DICHLOROPHENOXYACETIC ACID):
Personal Hygiene Procedures
If 2,4-D contacts the skin, workers should immediately wash the affected areas with soap and water.
Clothing contaminated with 2,4-D should be removed immediately, and provisions should be made for the safe removal of the chemical from the clothing. Persons laundering the clothes should be informed of the hazardous properties of 2,4-D, particularly its potential for causing irritation and central nervous system effects.
A worker who handles 2,4-D should thoroughly wash hands, forearms, and face with soap and water before eating, using tobacco products, using toilet facilities, applying cosmetics, or taking medication.
Workers should not eat, drink, use tobacco products, apply cosmetics, or take medication in areas where 2,4-D or a solution containing 2,4-D is handled, processed, or stored.
and the following (in which I have added my own emphasis)
Effects on Humans: Human exposure to 2,4-D has been associated with central and peripheral nervous system effects, liver and kidney damage, and death [NLM 1995; Hathaway et al. 1991; ACGIH 1991]. Several case control studies of soft-tissue sarcoma and lymphoma have suggested an increased risk among workers exposed to phenoxyacetic acid herbicides, including 2,4-D. However, IARC deems the evidence of 2,4-D’s carcinogenicity in humans inadequate, and other studies have failed to confirm an increased incidence of malignancy in workers using such herbicides [Hathaway et al. 1991]. Workers employed in the manufacture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5,-T had a significantly increased frequency of slowed nerve conduction [Hathaway et al. 1991]. A farming student committed suicide by ingesting at least 6.5 grams of 2,4-D. Violent convulsions preceded death, but no significant autopsy findings were noted [Hathaway et al. 1991]. One terminal patient with disseminated coccidiomycosis was administered 2,4-D intravenously for 19 doses. Central nervous system depression and peripheral neuropathology followed this treatment. 2,4-D is mutagenic in human test systems [NIOSH 1995].
Sure… I want that stuff around my family, friends and neighbors.
2,4-D can be found in lawn herbicide mixtures such as “Weed B Gon MAX”, “PAR III”, “Trillion”, “Tri-Kil”, “Killex” and “Weedaway Premium 3-Way XP Turf Herbicide.” If you use herbicides on your lawn, check the label and take appropriate precautions. Be safe.