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Risks from Lawn Care Pesticides

Full text of report
Summary of findings
Recommendations
Press Release

Resulting Legislation

Public Act No. 07-168: An Act Banning Pesticide Use on School Grounds

Public Act No. 05-252: An Act Concerning Pesticides at Schools and Day Care Facilities

Introduction

EPA permits over 200 different pesticides to be used for lawn care, and these are often mixed together and sold as chemical combinations. They are intentionally toxic substances.

Some chemicals commonly used on lawns and gardens have been associated with birth defects, mutations, adverse reproductive effects, and cancer in laboratory animals. Children, infants, and fetuses may be especially vulnerable to the health effects of pesticides before the age of five, when their cells are normally reproducing most rapidly.

In addition to their health effects, there are ecological effects to their use as well. Most lawn-care chemicals have the potential to contaminate underlying groundwater. Only two of the top five lawn-care pesticides, 2,4-D and glyphosate, are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, despite governmental acknowledgement of the intensity of effects of their release on the environment, and their potential to leach into groundwater supplies. Also, studies of major rivers and streams have documented that 100 percent of all surface water samples contained one or more pesticides at detectable levels.

Quick Facts

  • “Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.”4 — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Increased odds of childhood leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma have been associated with children living in households where pesticides are used.
  • 96 percent of all fish analyzed in major rivers and streams contained residues of one or more pesticides at detectable levels. —United States Geological Survey
  • EHHI surveyed 18 stores in Connecticut and found that most stores displayed pesticide packages with visible tears or rips.
  • Some pesticides commonly used on lawns and gardens in Connecticut...have been banned or restricted in other countries because of concerns about health effects. Many Canadian municipalities have banned or severely restricted the use of lawn-care pesticides.
  • Several studies... have found a statistically higher incidence of non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people exposed to 2,4-D.
  • Data suggest that MCPP may cause cancer, birth defects, and mutagenic effects.
  • Some inert ingredients are suspected carcinogens; others have been linked to central nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, and some short-term health effects. — Attorney General’s Office of New York
  • The use of household pesticides has been associated with a variety of childhood cancers.
  • Pesticides not intended for use on food are not required to undergo the same degree of testing as those used on food.
  • The use of pesticides often harms wildlife and their habitats.... Commonly used lawn-care chemicals can persist in soil and water for weeks, which can lead to the contamination of aquatic resources and local wildlife.
  • In addition to contaminating surface water, pesticides can contaminate groundwater, potentially causing health problems in those people drinking the water.
  • At least one pesticide was detected by USGS in more than 95 percent of stream samples collected at 115 sites.

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