If it’s yellow, let it mellow Yellow herbicides are harmless, says school

By Carol Woodland, Staff Reporter | Photo By Carol Woodland


Mysterious yellow stains hail the oncoming spring on Main Campus at CNM, and some students are wondering just what is this yellow chemi­cal being seen all over campus since the President’s Day break on Feb. 17.

Wisdom Reyes, Fine Arts major, said that when he goes to sit on the grass outside the Student Resources Center he wondered what exactly had been sprayed on the grounds.

“I want to know if the area is chemical free and that it’s not harming all of us; that we’re not ingesting it, smelling it, and it affecting us down the line in the future.”

Anthony Rael, Director of Maintenance and Operations said that fortunately for all the students and staff who enjoy playing Frisbee and relaxing in the sun on the lush green expanse between the SRC and JS buildings, that grass is 100 percent chemical-free.

“That turf is safe to lounge on and is a very durable ath­letic turf blend. It is intended for heavy use being that it is a central gathering point for stu­dents and CNM functions and events,” Rael said.

As for the yellow stains, Rael said they are from an herbicide called Pendulum which is applied to rock mulch and low maintenance areas to kill invasive plant material. According to the Environmental Protection Agency website at epa.gov, “it is practically non-toxic” to the touch, “unless this chemical is ingested there are no real con­cerns other than mild skin or eye irritation.”

For students want­ing more information, Material Safety Data Sheets for the Pendulum and any other chemicals used by Maintenance and Operations can be found at the Physical Plant Building, Rael said.

“We try to avoid using chemicals as much as pos­sible. Our groundskeepers pull weeds by hand in high traffic and gathering areas in order to avoid over spray and to reduce the chance of someone coming in contact with the chemical,” Rael said.

According to epa. gov the active ingredient in Pendulum is a chemi­cal called “Pendimethalin,” which is approved and used for weed killing use, not only in the United States, but also in the European Union, Canada, Japan and across the globe.

And because of the chemical’s low toxicity, it is used extensively on plants for consumption including cere­als, corn, sunflowers, car­rots, tobacco, salad greens and strawberries, which works by inhibiting root and shoot growth on weeds.

According to epa.gov Pendimethalin is generally applied before weeds sprout or progress into very young weeds, and specifically stops microtubule forma­tion within the cells of the plants, which makes the cells become disoriented and expand to a rounded shape.

The cells are then not able to divide, and the plant is unable to grow.

According to epa.gov, “Pendimethalin dissipates in the environment by bind­ing to soil; it is essentially immobile in soil,” which means that after Pendulum is applied it stays in place pre­venting weeds from growing in that area for a long period of time. Sticking to the soil or rocks where it is applied also makes it extremely resistant to contaminating ground water.

According to epa.gov exposure to the chemical “would not represent a high acute risk to birds or a high

Acute or chronic risk to mammals,” so there is little if any danger for CNM’s stray cat population, or any other animals that come through the grounds.

Rael said that Main campus sits on 84 acres of which 13 are landscaped by a crew of six full-time and one part-time groundskeepers, “about one groundskeeper for every two acres of land.”

The grounds main­tenance crew starts work each day at 6 a.m. and at this time of year is hard at work getting ready for the changing of the seasons.

“Our crew usually starts preparing for springtime now by aerating, seeding and prep­ping turf areas,” Rael said.

With the hard work from Maintenance and Operations’ groundskeeping crew, and a little help from the unseason­ably warm weather, CNM’s Main campus is getting greener day by day.

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