Are pesticides and chemical products safe to use in my lawn and garden?
The short answer is no; pesticides and all lawn chemicals are bad for the environment, humans and critters of all sizes. Responsible citizens restrict their lawn care to an electric mower, trim, and let nature take care of the rest of it. See details and research below.
The Problem: “Common pesticides ‘can kill frogs within an hour'”
“You would not think products registered on the market would have such a toxic effect,” said Carsten Brühl, at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany. “It is the simplest effect you can think of: you spray the amphibian with the pesticide and it is dead. That should translate into a dramatic effect on populations…Because spraying farm fields also results in run off into the waterways, the article concludes with a recommendation from Sandra Bell, a campaigner for Friends of Nature. “Strong action is urgently needed to get farmers [and landowners] off the chemical treadmill. As well as banning the most toxic products, governments must set clear targets for reducing all pesticides and ensure farmers [and gardeners] have safe and thoroughly tested alternatives.”
Resistance: Pesticides make big money.
Naturally, big chemical corporation owners will go to every length to suppress and deny the increasing evidence of research that shows danger in their products. They spend millions to discredit the work of scientists, as in the case of agribusiness Syngenta and its attempts to suppress findings by researcher Tyrone Hayes.
In A Valuable Reputation, author Rachel Aviv explains that while Hayes was studying the contaminating effects of the herbicide atrazine on drinking water, Syngenta was working to undermine him. A 2012 settlement of two class-action suits by 23 Midwestern cities and towns accused Syngenta of concealing atrazine’s true dangerous nature and contaminating their drinking water. They won the case because of Sygenta’s own internal records and Hayes’ research. Expansion on his findings around the world indicate that the herbicide is associated with birth defects in humans as well as in animals.
Neighbors: In 1992, when my husband and I moved to a city condominium, we were lucky to find agreement among fellow condo owners to do without pesticides and other chemicals on our lawns, which look as good or better than lawns treated with them.
However, there were other neighbors who blithely sprayed their lawns and gardens, and looked at us scornfully when we warned them about children and animals playing on their property.
The same is true today: here is an article written this year for Next Door -Browncroft Area. The article is used with permission.
Poisonings in Our Neighborhood, by Keven Atoms
Shortly after my spouse and I settled into our Browncroft neighborhood (more than a decade ago now), we noticed we were one of the few houses not employing a lawn care company, so we began to shop around. It was at this point that I came across several alarming studies. One medical journal study led to another, and I learned that the everyday chemical fertilizers and pesticides used by lawn care companies were linked to a number of deaths and illnesses. Aside from an array of peer-reviewed studies and reports from various science and medical journals about lawn chemicals and their effects on humans (and the environment), I also looked at the history of the lawn care industry, as I tried to figure out why millions of Americans—including myself—had no idea just how dangerous these chemicals were. (Italics mine)
After talking with area lawn-care companies, I realized that they all used those same extremely toxic products that I had read about. Although most lawn-care products are marketed under random names like “Weed Pro”, because of my research, I knew those chemicals by their generic or scientific names and, more importantly, I knew what they did to the human body. Needless to say, I did not hire a lawn-care company—but I still wanted a beautiful lawn—so what was I to do?
It’s now been years since my research began, and while I have been spinning my wheels trying to alert my friends and neighbors to the health-hazards of lawn chemicals, I felt somewhat vindicated by the news that Monsanto was finally having to answer for the countless deaths and illnesses caused by their product RoundUp. Unfortunately, Roundup, is just the tip of the iceberg. Along with Glyphosate (the scientific name for Monsanto’s product “Roundup”), lawn care companies are using an array of deadly, fertilizers and pesticides including 2,4-D—which is more popular than Roundup and potentially deadlier. 2,4 D is a dioxin-laden lawn chemical created by Dow chemical and used during the Vietnam War under a different name—Agent Orange.
Despite the fact that Germany, Canada, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and many other countries have banned 2,4,D , it is a known endocrine disruptor which has been linked to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it is still used on millions of lawns across America. Through my continued research, I found that companies like Dow and Monsanto not only helped create the modern lawn care industry, they have been using local companies like Broccolo and national ones like TruGreen (which changed its name from Chemlawn after a lawsuit in 2001), to market obsolete and hazardous products.
Today, it is illegal to use Agent Orange against an enemy combatant—but in America, it’s totally legal to use it on our homes—and our neighbor’s homes, and we’re not even at war. Unfortunately, I now know way more than I would care to about the lawn care industry, and like the cigarette industry, the lawn care industry knows exactly what their products are, and what they are doing to our health. Like anyone else, I also want a nice-looking lawn, but I’m also not about to risk my health for it—and it makes even less sense now, during this Covid 19 pandemic, to expose ourselves to chemicals that wreak havoc on the human immune system.
If you want to know what your lawn will look like if you stop using lawn chemical companies just look at the grass at school # 46. Since 2003 it is illegal to use lawn chemicals on school grounds due to the links to leukemia and other cancers. School lawns are what you see with no work at all—but if you are like me and you are anal about dandelions, I found that after a couple years of pulling weeds for 15 minutes a day during the two weeks of dandelion season—I have virtually no dandelions coming up anymore. I realize no one has the time to do the amount of research I did on this subject so I have made my findings available online for anyone interested. I also have a reference list available so people can have access to some of the same research I looked at. I don’t have an ax to grind with chemical companies, or lawn companies and I have no political agenda—It’s just that, knowing what I know now, I would feel horrible if one of my neighbors got sick, simply because I didn’t share what I found out. That’s all.”
Thank you, Keven, for being a conscientious and courageous citizen and speaking out. I hope this gets wid readership, as it shows your clear desire to help your fellow beings. Fortunately, many are happy to receive it and to learn the facts.
What to do:
- Watch “Frog and Pollinator Friendly Gardens” on You Tube, from A Frog House sponsored Save the Frogs Day Nature Symposium Webinar on April 25. Patty Love was our moderator as well as a presenter on permaculture, which she explained as:
- A science design based in ecology and the inherent interconnectivity of all life (practiced by indigenous peoples all around the world)
- actions in Project Drawdown, including 12 of the top 20 solutions which apply to how to use land and how we grow our food.
- the threat of chemical pesticides and herbicides to valuable insects, including those that pollinate food plants
- the harmfulness of wetland destruction through home development and the reconstruction of inferior water bodies.
- human responsibility for regeneration of thriving ecosystems
- an ethical basis in Earth Care, People Care, and Resource Share (aka Fair Share or Future Care).
2. Watch the rest of the Nature Symposium Webinar. Buy a DVD of it to share with friends.
3. Support A Frog House and the other agencies represented on the event, the MK Gandhi Institute, Pachamama Alliance Rochester, Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action, Barefoot Permaculture, and Impact Earth.
4. Campaign for sustainable programs in your own local towns and villages, of which Brighton and Pittsford are fine examples.
5. Support Pittsford Challenge for a Toxin-Free Neighborhood.
6. DIY, which is more fun and satisfying, or use lawn care companies in that use
- natural organic chemical free materials only
- 100% commercial quiet zero emission electric equipment
- solar power to charge the equipment.
- prices competitive with gas-powered companies,
- possibly (I have not vetted the following):
Town and Country Enterprises, Callahan Lawn Care,
TLC Organic Lawn, The Lawn Doctor
7. See what else can be done without chemicals at A Frog House at 65 State Street. Visitors with masks that respect social distancing are welcome to visit by appointment. Please call (585) 244-6366
This is the third summer that I have personally clipped, edged, weeded, divided, and transplanted, and so far, I haven’t spent a penny this year except for the organic mulch from Organix Green Industries, a partner of Impact Earth, and a little bit of paid help (15 of the 130 hours I put in). I can’t tell you how many times people going by on the towpath have said how beautiful the garden is, even going so far as to call it is the best on the canal. The swarm of beech beetles has disappeared. So why use the bad stuff?
8. Please SIGN OUR PETITION,
9. DONATE, and/or
10. BUY our beautiful lawn sign to let your neighbors know that you care.
References from Keven’s Article
- Agent Orange in Your Backyard: The Harmful Pesticide 2,4-D Solomon, Gina February 24, 2012 https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/02/agent-orange-in-your-backyard-the-harmful-pesticide-2-4-d/253506/
- Health effects of common home, lawn, and garden pesticides CJ Karr, GM Solomon, AC Brock-Utne – Pediatric Clinics of North America, 2007 – Elsevierhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031395506001556Robbins, Paul, and Sharp, Julie.
- “The Lawn‐Chemical Economy and Its Discontents.” Antipode 35, no. 5 (2003): 955-979.
- Pesticides and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma SH Zahm, A Blair – Cancer Research, 1992 – AACR https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/52/19_supplement/5485s.short SH Zahm.
- Mortality study of pesticide applicators and other employees of a lawn care service company – Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 1997 – journals.lww.com https://journals.lww.com/joem/Abstract/1997/11000/Mortality_Study_of_Pesticide_Applicators_and_Other.6.aspx Yeary, Roger Allen.
- “Urinary Excretion of 2,4-D in Commercial Lawn Specialists.” Applied Industrial Hygiene, Volume 1, 1986 – Issue 3 Pages 119-121 | Received 19 Feb 1986, Accepted 27 Feb 1986, Published online: 24 Feb 2011https://oeh.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08828032.1986.10390493#.XpdchS2ZOfURepetto, R., et al.
- “Pesticides and Immune System: The Public Health Risk.” Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, March, 1996.
- “Biological monitoring survey of organophosphorus pesticide exposure among pre-school children in the Seattle metropolitan area.” Lu, Chensheng, Dianne E. Knutson, Jennifer Fisker-Andersen, and Richard A. Fenske. Environmental health perspectives 109, no. 3 (2001): 299.
- Pesticides and health risks Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing Volume 39, Issue 1, January–February 2010, Pages 103-110 RC Gilden, K Huffling, B Sattler – Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & …, 2010 – Elsevier https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0884217515302550
- Monsanto Roundup Cancer FAQ Baum https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/toxic-tort-law/monsanto-roundup-lawsuit/roundup-lawsuit-faq/ Lung Cancer and Other Causes of Death Among Licensed Pesticide Applicators Aaron Blair, Ph.D, Dan J. Grauman, M.S., Jay H. Lubin, Ph.D., Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., M.D. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 71, Issue 1, July 1983, Pages 31–37, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/71.1.31 Published: 01 July 1983 https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article-abstract/71/1/31/876113
- Wide range of diseases linked to pesticides K Owens, J Feldman, J Kepner – Pesticides and You, 2010 – beyondpesticides.org https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/health/pid-database.pdf
- Pesticides in children JR Reigart, JR Roberts – Pediatric Clinics of North America, 2001 – Elsevier https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031395505703680
- Pesticides and human chronic diseases: Evidences, mechanisms, and perspectives Sara Mostafa lou Mohammad Abdollahi Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology Volume 268, Issue 2, 15 April 2013, Pages 157-177 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X13000549
- Low-dose agrochemicals and lawn-care pesticides induce developmental toxicity in murine preimplantation embryos. Anne R Greenlee , Tammy M Ellis , and Richard L Berg Published:1 May 2004 https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/abs/10.1289/ehp.6774
- “Refuse to Use Chemlawn, Be Truly Green: Why Lawn Care Pesticides are Dangerous to Your Children, Pets and the Environment.” Matthew Wilson, and Jay Rasku, Toxics Action Center, March, 2005, 1. Bello, Tina.
- “Bayer faces fourth U.S. Roundup cancer trial in Monsanto’s hometown.” Rueters https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bayer-glyphosate-lawsuit/bayer-faces-fourth-u-s-roundup-cancer-trial-in-monsantos-hometown-idUSKBN1ZN0D9 Grant, Jennifer.
- “The Child Safe Playing Fields Act: NY’s ban on pesticide use on school and day care center grounds.” Cornell University, Turfgrass Times, Vol. 22(1), 2011.
- Poison in the Grass: The Hazards and Consequences of Lawn Pesticides N Diegelman – skin, 2001 – [goodheartgroupinc.com