(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2007) It’s almost spring and soon those little yellow pesticide caution signs, signaling a pesticide application, will be popping up everywhere. Many people do not know the meaning of these pesticide warning flags. They indicate that poisonous chemicals have been applied to the turf and that everyone, especially children, should STAY OFF THE GRASS. Even a 24-hour waiting period has been shown to be inadequate, as many pesticides can persist on turf and in the soil for months, not days, after an application. Additionally, pesticides get tracked into indoor environments and persist in carpet and in household dust.
Be aware of the facts about pesticides. Many people think that the pesticides wear off, and that people and pets are not being exposed. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found multiple pesticide residues, including the herbicide 2,4-D (weed and feed products), in the bodies of children ages 6-11 at significantly higher levels than all other age categories. Herbicides such as 2,4-D and mecoprop, chemicals tied to respiratory ailments, are found in 15 percent of children tested, ages 3 to 7, whose parents had recently applied the lawn chemicals. A 2002 peer-reviewed study found children born to parents exposed to glyphosate (Roundup) show a higher incidence of attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity (ADD and ADHD). Pesticide exposure is linked to many other adverse health effects, including Parkinson’s Disease, and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These are the chemicals that are starting to be applied to lawns across the U.S. as spring approaches. (For references to the studies above and more information on health effects of pesticides, see Children and Chemicals Don’t Mix).
Watching for pesticide caution signs can help you avoid exposure to toxic chemicals. However, the only way to eliminate pesticide exposure is to eliminate pesticide use. Parks, playing fields, and your lawn can be converted to organic land care. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has numerous resources and works toward these goals. Over 800 signatories have signed the Coalition’s Declaration on the Use of Toxic Lawn Chemicals. These Coalition members receive bi-monthly action alerts to promote pesticide-free landscapes in their community.
TAKE ACTION: This month the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns Grassroots Action Alert provides a Spring Alert flyer for you to distribute in your community.