If you read my first posting on lawn chemicals and their link to cancer and disease but aren’t convinced that this is a real problem yet, here are more statistics for your consideration. All are sourced from this fully referenced fact sheet.
- Suburban lawns and gardens receive more pesticide applications per acre (3.2-9.8 lbs) than agriculture (2.7 lbs per acre on average).
- Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weedkiller 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than pre-application levels.
- Biomonitoring studies find that pesticides pass from mother to child through umbilical cord blood and breast milk.
- Children ages 6-11 have higher levels of lawn chemicals in their blood than all other age categories.
Evidence of Adverse Health Affects
- Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 13 are probable or possible carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.
- Pregnant women, infants and children, the aged and the chronically ill are at greatest risk from pesticide exposure and chemically induced immune-suppression, which can increase susceptibility to cancer.
- Children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that make them more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxins.
- A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia by almost seven times.
- Studies show low levels of exposure to lawn pesticide products are linked to increased rates of miscarriage, and suppression of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.
- Exposure to home and garden pesticides can increase a child’s likelihood of developing asthma.
- Studies link pesticides with hyperactivity, developmental delays, behavioral disorders, and motor dysfunction.
- Studies find that dogs exposed to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens can double their chance of developing canine lymphoma and may increase the risk of bladder cancer in certain breeds by four to seven times.
- Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides: 16 are toxic to birds, 24 are toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, and 11 are deadly to bees. Pesticides also cause food source contamination and behavioral abnormalities that interfere with survival.
- Runoff has resulted in a widespread presence of pesticides in streams and groundwater. 2,4-D, found in weed and feed and other lawn products, is the herbicide most frequently detected in streams and shallow ground water from urban lawns.xxii
- Of the 50 chemicals on EPA’s list of unregulated drinking water contaminants, several are lawn chemicals including herbicides diazinon, diuron, naphthalene, and various triazines such as atrazine.xxiii
- Runoff from synthetic chemical fertilizers pollutes streams and lakes and causes algae blooms, depleted oxygen and damage to aquatic life.
Questionable Regulation Practices
- The health data assessed by EPA for the registration of pesticides comes from the manufacturer of the pesticide. EPA is not obligated under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to review peer-reviewed scientific literature.
- The U.S. GAO has told Congress on several occasions that the public is misled on pesticide safety by statements characterizing pesticides as “safe” or “harmless.” EPA states that no pesticide is 100 percent safe.xxiv
- Pesticide testing protocol was developed before science fully understood the human immune and hormonal system. EPA still does not evaluate data for several neurological effects or disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.
- EPA does not evaluate the health and environmental effects of actual pesticide formulations sold on the shelf. Data submitted to the EPA also does not account for low-dose effects, synergistic effects with inerts or combined exposure to more than one pesticide at a time.
“Inert” does not mean “harmless”
- Pesticide products are made of an active ingredient and several inert, or other, ingredients. Inert ingredients are neither chemically, biologically nor toxicologically inert. Inerts are not disclosed to the public due to their status as “trade secrets”.
- Active ingredients usually comprise only 5% of the actual product; the other ingredients make up the majority of a given pesticide product or formulation.
- Inert ingredients can be more toxic to humans than the active ingredient. Ethylene chloride, a nerve poison, is an example of an inert ingredient linked with damage to the heart, eyes, liver, and adrenal glands.
- 800 out of 1200 inerts are classified as “of unknown toxicity,” 57 as highly toxic due to known carcinogenicity, adverse reproductive effects, birth defects, neurotoxicity and/or other chronic effects, and 64 as potentially toxic.
- 394 chemicals used as inert ingredients are listed as active ingredients in other pesticide products, and more than 200 inerts are considered hazardous pollutants and/or hazardous waste under federal environmental statutes.