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Services covering England and Wales

You’ve seen the GTMS Quad Bikes in action and you have questions

All our operators are highly skilled and knowledgeable about ‘weed killers’ and much as they would like to spend time talking with you, their work is time critical so they have sent you to this page to hopefully answer your questions…

What we do:

GTMS ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES LTD. provides pesticide spraying services to Local Authorities, commercial bodies, and private clients. Your local authority does everything it reasonably can to avoid using chemical pesticides but sometimes the use of targeted spraying treatments is the only sensible option.

We are contracted to your local authority and are currently spraying herbicide on your highways and pavements. This is for several reasons.

Why we do it?
  1. Health and Safety: weed growth on the footpaths and kerb edges lead to trip hazards. This can be particularly dangerous for our older people. Tall weeds may also cause visual hazards for drivers, this is mostly dealt with by mowing and strimming but sometimes we are asked to also spray these areas.
  2. Costs: When weeds grow through the cracks in the pavement etc., they cause further damage to the sealed surface leading to pot holes and uneven pavements. Resurfacing of roads and pavements is very expensive so if we can slow these processes down it helps with your local council spending.
  3. Aesthetics: When the weeds are killed and the streets are clean, people are less likely to leave litter which means the streets stay cleaner for longer and our towns are a more pleasant place to live.
What chemicals do we use?

The approval of chemical pesticides is carefully managed by the Chemical Regulation Division (CRD), part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). All commercially available chemicals have been subject to rigorous testing and approved for sale by the CRD. As part of the process, chemicals are ecologically and toxicologically tested to a Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment, leading to the development of specific procedures for the use of the chemical so that any risk to the health of humans, animals and the environment is minimised or eliminated. Hard surface weed control must be achieved with spot spraying green weeds. Suitable applicators include ATV (quad bike) mounted units and knapsack sprayers. Many of the pesticides we use are approved on a European basis too but each country will have its own regulations.

All UK approved pesticides have a MAPP number. A MAPP (Ministerially Approved Pesticide Product) number is a unique product registration number which HSE (Health and Safety Executive) allocates at the first commercial authorisation of a product.

The MAPP number is a five-digit number and is always found on the front of the product label, usually in upper right quarter. To check the validity of a MAPP number, head to the HSE database. Type the five-digit MAPP number into the box then click ‘Get Results’ to the bottom right of the page.

For general highways, we are currently using glyphosate*-based herbicides which are specifically approved for use on hard surfaces (tarmac, paving slabs etc.). Depending on where you live we are using either Amega Duo MAPP no. 13358 or Barclay’s Trustee Amenity MAPP no. 17697. These are just different brands of what are essentially the same product.

*Something which comes up pretty often is a report from WHO (world health organisation) lifted from an IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) assessment which states glyphosate is… “probably carcinogenic to humans’ ‘ (WHO, 2015).

A subsequent peer-review of the IARC assessment in September 2016 concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” (Williams, et al., 2016). Other national and international organisations such as Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, FAO, and US environmental Protection Agency, EPA, have following the IARC report re-evaluated glyphosate status and found it unlikely to be carcinogenic (Appelby, 2016). Prior to pending EU re-licensing of glyphosate in July 2016, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also reviewed its glyphosate toxicological profile finding it “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans” (EFSA, 2015). The license was renewed for 18 months only in wait for European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) evaluation. In March 2017 ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) “concluded that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction” (ECHA, 2017).

Following on from this research and other expert advice Glyphosate-based herbicides are approved for use in the UK until at least 15th December 2025 but it is expected that the approval will be renewed for several more years. The EU has recently re-approved the use of glyphosate until 15th December 2033

We will also use an adjuvant mixed in the tank. An adjuvant is any product which aids the pesticide to do its job but is not itself a pesticide. Adjuvants are also approved and have an adjuvant no.

We sometimes use Firebrand ADJ No. A0936. Firebrand is a water softener which helps us reduce the amount of pesticide we use in hard water areas.

We also use Codacide oil ADJ No. A0284. Codacide is rapeseed oil (cooking oil) which helps to stick the herbicide to the weed leaf when conditions are cooler and damper. This also helps us reduce the amount of pesticide we use.

Are the chemicals safe?

We always follow the advice given by the manufacturers and agronomists and the instructions provided on the label. By following this guidance, we can be sure that the herbicides we use are not hazardous to people, children, pets, and wildlife including insects.

How often do we spray?

Depending on your local authority budget and level of weed growth in your area we may spray all the 30mph and below roads and associated pavement and amenity areas from once to three times per year.

Depending on the weather this may be anytime between April and October while the weeds are growing.

How much chemical do we use?

Surprisingly small amounts…

When you see our sprayers in action what you see being sprayed is mostly water. The concentrated herbicide is diluted in water at an approximate rate of 3%. That is 3litres of herbicide mix added to 100litres of water. We avoid spraying all of the road or footpath, only spot treating the places where the weeds are growing. As we stated above, we also use various adjuvants to help lower the amount of herbicide we use in total which lowers our overall chemical footprint and helps protect the environment. We do appreciate the argument that any pesticide use is too much so GTMS Enviro has committed to supporting trials of alternatives to pesticides, application methods and equipment to control weed growth. We regularly review the alternative options. Over the last few years there have been many trials of alternative methods.

A brief summary of these various reports:
  • Street sweeping and cleanliness significantly reduces pesticide requirements.
  • tarmacked surfaces reduce weed growth compared to slabs or paving.
  • hand weeding etc. is economically unviable
  • Hot foam/steam applications are too slow and too unwieldy to be viable
  • pelargonic/acetic acids (plant-based ingredients) are not as environmentally friendly as claimed and are largely ineffective and extremely expensive.
  • targeted application of glyphosate*-based herbicide at optimum application rates remains the most effective way of weed control by all metrics.

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