Daily News Archive
September 20, 2006
Anti-Pesticide Activist's Lawn Doused With Toxic Chemicals
(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2006) Tess Karwoski,
one of Michigan’s leading environmental activists and a proponent
of alternatives to dangerous pesticides used in many lawn-care products,
had her lawn doused with chemicals linked to birth defects and hormonal
damage last week. A mistake by TruGreen ChemLawn was to blame for the
application, which soaked Karwoski's entire back yard with a mixture
of MCPA, mecoprop and
dicamba. TruGreen planted
their "Keep Children and Pets Off Lawn" warning sign only
a few feet away from Ms. Karwoski’s "Pesticide-Free
Ms. Karwoski, who serves as the Health and Policy Director for the Michigan
Environmental Council, was working from her Ann Arbor home, speaking
by phone to another environmental worker about pesticide issues, which
is her specialty, when she heard a diesel engine idling out front Thursday
afternoon. She did not think much about the noise at first, figuring
it was a delivery truck. After it continued for several minutes, she
looked out the window and saw a TruGreen ChemLawn truck and a hose snaking
onto her property.
By the time she
got outside, the TruGreen workman had already completed a pesticide
application to the back yard, and was starting on the side yard. After
confronting the applicator and telling him that she had no contract
with TruGreen and that she did not want any treatments on her lawn,
Ms. Karwoski proceeded to caution the applicator about possible risks
associated with common pesticide chemicals.
"I told the
young man, ‘Even more important to me is that you don't have a
mask on. These are chemicals that will affect your unborn children,’”
Karwoski said, explaining that such pesticides can affect sperm counts
and alter the structure of reproductive organs, particularly in male
fetuses. By the time she was done, she said the young man's eyes were
watering. “I don't know if it was the irritant properties of the
pesticides or what I was telling him.”
Ms. Karwoski was upset, but she saw it as an opportunity for education
as well. "I'm incensed that this happened, but see it as a teachable
moment," she said. "Lawn applications that contain these dangerous
chemicals are routinely applied to lawns when they don't need to be.
It's easy to have a beautiful yard and lawn without the application
of chemicals that are a threat to children, pets and unborn fetuses."
Of the 30 commonly used lawn
pesticides 19 are carcinogens, 13 linked with birth defects, 21
with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney
damage, 27 are irritants, and 11 can disrupt the hormone system. Pregnant
women, infants and children, the aged and the chronically ill are at
greatest risk from pesticide exposure. A new scientific study released
in March 2006 shows that children are 65-164 times more sensitive than
adults to some pesticides.
ACTION: Make sure your lawn is toxic-free. Visit www.pesticidefreelawns.org
to sign the National Declaration on the Use of Toxic Lawn Pesticides
and to find tips on how to have a safe, healthy lawn. Additionally,
the number of organic landscape companies nationwide is rapidly growing.
To find a landscaping company using least-toxic and non-toxic methods
in your state, visit www.safetysource.org.