Lawn Care Chemicals

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Living Resources Company - BUGS Parent Company
Providing organic horticultural services for the greater Sacramento California area.

Are Lawn Care Chemicals Dangerous? Here are some common questions and answers about the lawn care products you might be using, as well as the effects they may have on your lawn, your family, and you.

What are lawn care chemicals?

They include more than just fertilizers. Chemicals that kill weeds, insects and a variety of diseases are sold separately and in combination with fertilizers such as weed and feed.

Can lawn care chemicals make me or my family ill?

YES. Pesticides used in controlling weeds, insects, etc., are toxic. "Cide" means kill. These chemicals have been created to kill pests and most are broad-spectrum biocides. This simply means they are poisonous to a wide variety of living organisms, including garden plants, wildlife, pets, your neighbors, your family and you. Inert ingredients, which may comprise 50 to 99% of a pesticide formula may actually be more toxic than the active ingredients. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) has even allowed officially banned pesticides such as D.D.T. to be reclassified as inert ingredients, allowing them to remain in pesticide formulas.

How can I or my family be poisoned by lawn care chemicals?

Poisons are absorbed through the skin, by the mouth, or by breathing sprays, dusts, or vapors. You or your children can be poisoned if: you apply or are present during application of the chemical. Also if you touch contaminated grass, shoes, clothing, lawn furniture, etc., or put contaminated objects (toys, golf tees, blades of grass etc.) or fingers in the mouth. A recent government report states, until new guidelines for conducting exposure studies are developed, the E.P.A. will not know how much exposure is associated with lawn care pesticides and associated health risks, especially for children.

Why doesn't my doctor diagnose pesticide poisoning?

Pesticide manufacturers are not required to release health information to the medical profession. Doctors are not knowledgeable about pesticide poisonings and often misdiagnose these symptoms as allergies, flu, or some other illness. Doctors often state that the symptoms are psychosomatic or "all in your head." They are also afraid of a large chemical company taking them to court over a pesticide poisoning diagnosis - taking a toll on their time and finances.

Are lawn chemicals safe when dry?

NO. Many chemicals remain active from a month to over a year. During this time, they can release toxic vapors. Breathing these vapors, even from neighbors lawns or while playing on or mowing contaminated grass, can cause illness.

What are the symptoms of lawn care pesticide poisoning?

They are deceptively simple and similar to those of other illnesses. Pesticides attack the central nervous system and other vital body centers. Some symptoms include: sore nose, tongue, or throat, burning skin or ears, rash, excessive sweating or salivation, chest tightness, asthma-like attacks, coughing, muscle pain, seizures, headaches, eye pain, blurred or dim vision, numbness or tingling in hands or feet, nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, tissue swelling, anxiety, suicidal depression, irritability, angry outbursts, disturbed sleep, learning disabilities, fatigue, dizziness, unexplained fever, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, stroke, death. Even without apparent symptoms, exposure may still be harmful. Long term problems include: lower male fertility, miscarriage, birth defects, chemical sensitivity, immune suppression, cataracts, liver and kidney dysfunction, heart disturbances, and cancer.

Is the government allowing unsafe chemicals on the market?

Sadly, YES. The E.P.A. makes no claims to protect us from harmful pesticides. In fact, it is a violation of federal law to label any pesticides as "safe", "harmless", or "non-toxic to humans or pets". The United States Congress states, 90% of pesticides in current use lack health and safety tests required for registration, yet they continue to be sold and used. Of the 34 most widely used products on lawns 32 are lacking health and safety data required for registration. Four have been identified as carcinogens.

Can lawn care chemicals contaminate my drinking water?

YES. Pesticides and fertilizers can and do leach into private and public wells and water supplies. Unfortunately, there currently is no program to monitor our drinking water for this type of contamination. Thirteen of the 18 most widely use lawn care chemicals have been detected in ground water (e.g., 2,4-D, Sevin, Diazinon, and RoundUp).

Are there alternatives to toxic lawn care chemicals?

YES. Natural landscape maintenance programs can achieve a healthy, pest-free landscape using the latest scientific developments in organic agriculture and horticulture.

Who uses lawn care chemicals?

If you or your neighbor hire a conventional lawn care company or buy any lawn products that contain any pesticides, YOU DO!