(WSVN) - Homeowners living on the banks of a South Florida canal have serious concerns. A highly controversial weed killer is being sprayed in their neighborhood as questions swirl over the safety of the chemical. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.

It’s an oasis just outside Miami, but some living along the Little River Canal in El Portal are getting worried.

Kevin Ozebek: “Right across, we see all that dead foliage. Is that from the spraying, do you think?”

Slade Cole, concerned homeowner: “That is from the spraying.”

Last week from his backyard, Slade Cole captured a state contractor spraying a herbicide containing glyphosate.

That’s the same ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup, and the same ingredient that has led thousands to sue Roundup’s maker, claiming it has led to their cancer.

Kristen McLean says after a previous spraying, the vegetation near her corner of the canal died off.

Kristen McLean, concerned homeowner: “I don’t want my children and my pets exposed to it, and I don’t want it in the river.”

The state agency in charge of keeping this canal clean and flowing is the South Florida Water Management District. It tells 7News that it does spray a very diluted amount of glyphosate at times to make sure plant overgrowth doesn’t end up in the water and clogging the canal.

Armando Vilaboy, South Florida Water Management District Regional Representative: “I live here. The folks spraying live in South Florida. We wouldn’t put anything out there we thought was dangerous.”

The brand name of the herbicide the state uses is Aqua Neat.

It’s made by an Australian company called Nufarm.

Nufarm tells 7News, “We believe that glyphosate-based products are safe to use in accordance with label directions.”

And the federal government agrees. The Environmental Protection Agency determined glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

But here is why homeowners in El Portal have a problem with what’s being sprayed: The World Health Organization believes glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and researchers from the University of Washington believe the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma “increased by 41%” for those who have high exposure to glyphosate.

Kristen McLean: “It bothers me that they would spray a toxic chemical and not tell the residents along the river that they are going to be spraying.”

For now, no manufacturer or government reassurance is enough for these homeowners.

Kevin Ozebek: “The EPA approves it. The state of Florida approves it. Does that make you feel any better?”

Slade Cole: “Not really.”

Property owners here want the spraying to stop until more is known about the chemical.


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