Last Monday, Sunny Isles Beach resident Inna Sheflyand took her toddler to the Dezer Family Playground at a park near her home. It's a routine she has followed every day for the past three years. On this day, however, she she noticed something different: a worker spraying the playground area with chemicals.
Sheflyand says that when she confronted the landscaper, he told her he was using Roundup, a weed killer whose active ingredient, glyphosate, is widely believed to be hazardous to human health.
"The kids on this particular playground are little kids — it's children under two, mostly," Sheflyand says. "I'm actually scared to go back."
After leaving the park that day, Sheflyand started an online petition asking the city to permanently stop the spraying of Roundup. But Myranda Tarr, a spokesperson for Sunny Isles Beach, says the city's contracts with landscapers already restrict the use of Roundup on city property.
"We will investigate this immediately and take all necessary action," Tarr wrote in an email to New Times. "This would not be acceptable under our current contract."
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The use of glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup was also a topic of discussion at a city commission meeting last Thursday. Sunny Isles Beach Commissioner Dana Goldman says she wanted residents to know the city has been proactive about restricting glyphosate use.
"Of course, there's a separate issue of: What do you do on private property?" she said. "We can set an example and do it on public property."
In recent years, cities across the U.S. have implemented bans on Roundup and similar weed killers. The City of Miami issued a ban this past February, following other Florida cities, including Miami Beach and Stuart.
Several high-profile court cases have also tackled the issue. In March, a California jury awarded $2 billion to a married couple who claimed they contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma because of Roundup. Other juries have awarded seven- and eight-figure damages in similar cases. Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, which produces Roundup, contends that glyphosate isn't a carcinogen and has appealed those verdicts.