Poison Ivy - Summary
From: Pablo Halpern (phalpernworld.std.com)
Date: Tue, 9 May 95 08:47 CDT
I received only about half a dozen responses to my question regarding 
people's experience in reducing or eradicating poison ivy.

Most of the responses said that the best way is to dig up and throw out the 
whole plant, including roots. You have to cover yourself with clothing that 
you can also throw out, and wash yourself immediately after the operation.  
You cannot burn the plant, because the smoke is very toxic. It might be 
possible to remove the plant with machinery like backhoes and bulldozers, 
but it makes a mess and could harm trees. In the immediate area of 
construction, the builder will be removing a lot of soil. The soil gets 
sifted before it is put back on the site.

One person, after explaining his experience with organic farming and 
admitting that chemicals like Roundup ARE toxic and carcinagenic, still 
suggested that herbicides can be used effectively in "limited, specific, 
controlled situations."

Competing vegitation (cover crops) *might* be sufficient to choke out the 
poison ivy and are definately needed to prevent its return, regardless of 
what method is used to eliminate it.

Nobody described any direct experience with the rate of regrowth using any 

A couple of people suggested remedies for PI exposure. One was Jewelweed 
(impatiens biflora), topically as a poultice, or internally as a tea. Other 
natural medicines for topical (external) use include Witch hazel,
Solomon's seal, lobelia and mugwort. A special type of laundary soap "brand 
name unknown" can be used to alleviate the blisters and prevent them from 
spreading. It might be a good thing to wash with after removing the plants 
by hand. To find the soap, look for something that looks like a large bar of 
hand soap but is sold in the laundary soap section of the supermarket.

As for our progress on the issue: A number of people in our group have been 
doing research into different methods of combatting PI. We got in contact 
with a woman in this state (Massachusetts) who has made herself into an 
expert on removing PI by hand. She is willing to train us on her technique. 
Goats were also found to be effective, but require a great deal of care. We 
might consider goats in the future. 

The research on the chemicals like Roundup, 2,4-D, and dicham(something) 
boiled down the this: These chemicals are nasty in high exposures. Nobody 
knows what, if any exposure is safe. The chemical companies are not required 
to test or disclose the "non-active" ingredients of their products, some of 
which may be more toxic than the active ingredients. They have to be applied 
annually for three years. They have a half-life in the soil of about 100 
days, so significant quantities will remain for years. Nobody can prove to 
you that using these chemicals will cause somebody to get cancer. Nobody can 
prove to you that using these chemicals will not cause somebody to get 
cancer. We have not ruled out the use of chemicals, but if we do use them, 
it will be a last resort for specific problem areas.

We have identified the highest-priority areas of our site and have created a 
team that will try an experiment this Saturday. We will see how much poison 
ivy we can remove in a resonable amount of time. If we are productive 
enough, hand removal might become our weapon of choice.

We are still looking for more input. If you have any more advice, please 
email me. Thanks.

- Pablo

Pablo Halpern              (508) 435-5274         phalpern [at] world.std.com

New View Neighborhood Development, Acton, MA, U.S.A.

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