Study Reinforces the Link Between Lawn Chemicals and Cancer

For years, I have been saying how dangerous it is to think that when we spray our own lawns with chemical lawn treatments, that there are no negative repercussions. Many think that if they just stay off the lawn for the first day and then remove the little white flag, that they are “good to go” or that if they apply the chemicals themselves that they must be safe enough.  But what is “safe enough” really?  Not dying immediately upon exposure does not equate to safety and certainly not to healthy.

A newly published study (Abstract of Environmental Health 112(1): 171-6 (Jan. 2012), explains the link between lawn chemicals and cancer in dogs as well how this relates to our own health.

The study shows how our dogs are being poisoned with common garden and lawn care chemicals and thereby increasing their rates of cancer.

“‘The routes of exposure that have been documented in experimental settings include ingestion, inhalation and transdermal exposures,’ lead author Deborah Knapp of Purdue University’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, told Discovery News.”

When they come back in from being outdoors, they are bringing these same chemicals with them – increasing our exposures and chances of developing diseases (including cancer) from these chemicals as well.

“‘Dogs can pick up the chemicals on their paws and their fur,’ Knapp said. ‘They can then track the chemicals inside the house, leaving chemicals on the floor or furniture. In addition, if the dog has chemicals on its fur, the pet owner could come in contact with the chemicals when they pet or hold the dog.'”

Knapp explained that wind could cause the herbicides to travel up to 50 feet away from the application site. Neighbors who use the chemicals might therefore impact other individuals in the area.”

Read more about it here

Here are some stats that you may find alarming:

  • 53% of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that are possible carcinogens, as defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • 41% of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries.
  • All 32 of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that pose threats to the environment, including: threats to water supplies, aquatic organisms, and non-targeted insects.   source:

If you are still thinking that having your pets and your family avoid a chemically treated lawn for 24 hours is sufficient protection from cancer and disease, please check out this study which shows that you actually track in very elevated amounts of these chemicals for 5-6 days after the chemical application (and of course lesser amounts in between)

What you can do instead:

  • Avoid all chemical fertilizers and pesticides
  • Adjust the pH so that your soil is at peak pH for grass to grow (around 6.5) Add lime if it is below 6.0 and gardener’s sulfur if it is above 7.0..
  • Use organic, slow-release fertilizer and other organic and natural options like corn gluten to create a healthy, beautiful lawn – there are many helpful online resources for organic lawn care.
  • Overseed to encourage more grass to grow. Spread seed especially in the spring and fall.
  • Mow High (around 3 inches) to crowd out the weeds and create deeper roots (which leads to less need for watering)
  • Consider seeding your lawn with clover which takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil (thereby fertilizing the lawn)
  • Most importantly, rethink what your definition of what a beautiful lawn is.