Lawn Pesticides

>> Friday, May 6, 2011

Most people have a love/hate relationship with their lawns. If we just have to have one, grass – as opposed to a yard full of food crops or ornamental beauties – just has be fed and cared for to look good and this is where the ‘hate’ thing comes into play. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t mind taking the hour it takes to walk behind my little mower to cut the grass but there are a ton of other things I would rather do.

The pesticides and fertilizers required to give the lawn that lush green look is something else that goes against my desire to live ‘chemical-free’, as if that bit of ‘nirvana’ can ever be achieved.

In a home garden environment the pesticides can be non-existent if you follow good companion planting techniques. But on lawns, short of allowing anything to grow there that wants to, if we want that wide expanse of lush green carpet without dandelions and crabgrass and grubs etc then we reach for the chemical sprays.

According to Beyond Pesticides, a national coalition against the misuse of pesticides, herbicides or weed killers account for the highest percentage of use in landscapes and gardens. Collectively Americans put down more than 90 million pounds of herbicides on their lawns and gardens each year, and suburban lawns and gardens are blanketed with more pounds per acre of pesticides on average than agricultural land. And of course, pesticides used in food and ornamental gardens can be hazardous as well, both in the environment and as residues on food.

Consider these other facts compiled by Beyond Pesticides in their Lawn Pesticide Facts and Figures Factsheet. Many commonly used lawn pesticides are probable or possible carcinogens and have been linked to liver and kidney damage, childhood asthma, and disruption of the endocrine system. Children are most at risk; one study showed that home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia almost seven times. Dogs exposed to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens have double the risk of lymphoma. Birds, aquatic life, and bees are harmed by many commonly used lawn pesticides.

And it's not just the "active ingredients" in pesticides and herbicides that are cause for concern. The composition of the "inert ingredients" that form the bulk of the product don't need to be disclosed on the label, but are often quite toxic, sometimes even more so than the active ingredient.

To read more about the dangers that lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides can pose to people, pets, and the environment, go to Beyond Pesticides.


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