A herbicide is a pesticide used to kill unwanted plants.
Selective herbicides kill certain targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.
Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often based on plant hormones.
Herbicides used to clear waste ground are nonselective and kill all plant material with which they come into contact.
Some plants produce natural herbicides, such as the genus Juglans (walnuts).
Herbicides are widely used in agriculture and in landscape turf management.
They are applied in total vegetation control (TVC) programs for maintenance of highways and railroads.
Smaller quantities are used in forestry, pasture systems, and management of areas set aside as wildlife habitat.
Herbicides have been alleged to cause a variety of health effects ranging from skin rashes to death.
The pathway of attack can arise from improper applicatrion resulting in direct contact with field workers, inhalation of aerial sprays, food consumption and from contact with residual soil contamination.
Herbicides can also be transported via surface runoff to contaminate distant surface waters and hence another pathway of ingestion through extraction of those surface waters for drinking.
Some herbicides decompose rapidly in soils and other types have more persistent characteristics with longer environmental half-lives.