A CHEMICAL suspected of causing cancer in humans is being sprayed on Salisbury's parks to kill weeds.

Herbicides such as Roundup contain Glyphosate, a substance that one World Health Organisation study found to be “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The product is legally available in the UK, but is banned in some countries including the Netherlands.

A campaign to top Salisbury City Council spraying Glyphosate has been signed by almost 300 people.

Elli Rivers, who started the campaign, said: "It is not acceptable that ourselves, our children and the animals we share our community with are being routinely exposed to these chemicals whether we like it or not.

"This is a matter of great importance for those of us who care about each other's health and the health of our children, our cats, our dogs and all the flora and fauna of this city, of course including our beloved bees."

Elli is encouraging people from other towns and cities to launch similar campaigns for their areas.

The council says it uses herbicides containing Glyphosate "in minimal quantities, only where necessary, and mostly on areas of hard surfacing".

The chemical is used only by trained operators.

At a meeting of the council's services committee, city clerk Reg Williams told members that there was currently no known alternative for the herbicide.

Glyphosate is one of the world’s most widely used herbicides, with more than six billion tonnes of the substance sprayed on farms, gardens and public spaces in the last decade.

City councillor Margaret Willmot said she had concerns about the chemicals contaminating water sources and entering the food chain.

"We need to keep it all to a minimum and, if possible, do without these things all together," she said.

"I don't like the thought of all these poisons being used to control the weeds. Ideally I wouldn't want to see them used at all but I do understand there is a balance.

"People do like to see the pace looking neat and tidy."

The council says its use of Glyphosate is "being kept under review" and it is looking into alternative ways to control weeds.