Letter to the Editor from Bridget Hardy
Children play on our lawns. Dogs roll around on our lawns. And pesticides applied on our lawns can be tracked into our homes when the children and dogs come back indoors. Once inside, herbicides and their residuals persist, no longer in the presence of sunlight and soil which hasten breakdown.
Young children, especially those with asthma, are especially at risk from exposure to even low levels of herbicides and other pesticides commonly used in yard care, including rodenticides and insecticides (footnotes sited below).
As a growing number of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents are becoming aware of the harmful health and environmental effects of turf and yard pesticides, Green Minds of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff is working with city and village staff and elected officials and local homeowners to provide healthier solutions for parks, schools and yards. Green Minds is hosting a lawn care workshop on April 15th from noon to 2pm at the Lake Forest College McCormick Auditorium and April 18th from noon to 2pm at Lake Bluff Library.
Visit Green Minds’ Facebook page or the Lake Forest College website for details. Midwest Pesticide Action and Lawn Logic, a company dedicated to Integrated Pest Management and organic treatments, will present tried and true solutions for healthy backyards, school grounds and parks.
Several commonly-used pesticides have been linked to health issues such as neurological problems and birth defects in laboratory animals and canine malignant lymphoma in dogs (www.beyondpesticides.org). Neighbors can be put at risk of unexpected exposure to herbicides. Applied herbicides tend to carry in the wind and drift from the target area, a not uncommon occurrence. When post-application signage is inadequate or non-existent, also not uncommon, both dogs and people may enter a recently treated area before it is safe to do so. Some people (and pets) are more sensitive to exposure than others; they have the right to be notified in advance about which chemicals are being applied and when so that they can take steps to avoid exposure per the Illinois Lawncare Products Application and Notice Act, available online at www.ilga.gov.
There is more than human health at risk from the increasing dependence on herbicides and insecticides to kill unwanted weeds and insects. While targeting the “bad” pests, insecticides also kill the “good” ones—natural insect predators such as spiders and ladybugs and pollinating bees.
Popular lawncare products are often a combination of quick-release nutrients and pre-emergent herbicide to stop weed seed germination, designed for easy, single-use application. Adding insult to injury, follow-up herbicide treatments are applied to weeds throughout the growing season. Synthetic fertilizers coupled with herbicides are harmful to the beneficial soil flora and fauna—so critical to plant nutrition and disease resistance. Continued use of synthetic fertilizers results in a buildup of salts and compounds like heavy metals in soil and a decrease in organic matter and thus water-holding capacity. Large expanses of lawns with short roots growing in compacted soils contribute to runoff during heavy rains, exacerbating flooding. Excess nutrients from synthetic fertilizers end up in local streams and Lake Michigan.
There are simple alternatives to pesticides use on lawns. Called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), being more mindful of pest control methods leads to healthier, greener, lusher grass. It is easy to get started with a few easy steps, which will be addressed at Lake Forest Lake Bluff GreenMinds natural lawn care workshop.
Learn what you can do to keep your own yard healthy and support the case to reduce pesticide use in our communities. Attend the Natural Lawn Care workshops on April 15th and 18th from noon to 2pm and sign the Green Minds Lake Forest and Lake Bluff petition to reduce pesticide use in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. Bring awareness to this issue and support the case to reduce pesticide use in our community. Visit Green Minds’ Facebook page for details.
For further information, visit the Midwest Pesticide Action Center’s website at http://midwestpesticideaction.org/. To find a natural lawn care company, visit Lawn to Lake’s website http://www.lawntolake.org/.
“AAP Makes Recommendations to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Pesticides.” Www.aap.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Makes-Recommendations-to-Reduce-Children’s-Exposure-to-Pesticides.aspx.
Reuben, Suzanne H. “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk.” 2008-2009 Annual Report, President’s Cancer Panel (2009): 43-49. Http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf.
Dich, Jan, et al. “Pesticides and cancer.” Cancer Causes & Control 8.3 (1997): 420-443.
Bridget Hardy, Lake Forest
This Letter to the Editor is from Bridget Hardy. Letters to the Editor represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of Daily North Shore.