Summary of Findings
Pesticide Use | Pesticide Health
Effects | Ecological Effects | Pesticides
in Water | Pesticide Packaging, Labeling
and Sales | Pesticide Regulations
- EPA permits over 200 different pesticides to be used for lawn care,
and these are often mixed together and sold as chemical combinations.
- Approximately 35 pesticides are used in over 90 percent of lawn
- Nearly 80 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients are used
on U.S. lawns annually.
- Lawns cover 30 million acres of the U.S. and the industry that
has evolved to take care of lawns is now a multibillion-dollar business.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that “homeowners
use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns
than farmers use on crops.”4 Homeowners applying their own
pesticides may be directly exposed to the chemicals through inhalation,
dermal (skin) exposure, and/or ingestion.
- Statistics on the amount of lawn-care chemicals used in Connecticut
are not available. Environment & Human Health, Inc. found in
an earlier study that among homeowners interviewed, 72 percent used
pesticides on their lawns and/or trees.
Pesticide Health Effects
- Pesticides 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
- Children, infants, and fetuses may be especially vulnerable to
the health effects of pesticides before the a
- Children may be more susceptible to loss of brain function if exposed
to neurotoxins, and may be more susceptible to damage to their reproductive
- Lawn-care pesticides are not tested for their chronic health effects,
unless they are also licensed for food uses.7 The third most heavily
used herbicide in the U. S., MCPP, has not been fully tested for
chronic health effects since it is not allowed for use on foods.
MCPP is commonly found in weed and feed products
- EPA has tested only nine of 750 registered pesticides for their
effects on the developing nervous system; six of the nine tested
were more harmful to young animals than adults.
- Pesticides are composed of active ingredients and inert ingredients.
Some inert ingredients may be more toxic than active ingredients
and can comprise 90 to 95 percent of the product. Some inert ingredients
are suspected carcinogens, while others have been linked to central
nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, birth defects,
and some short-term health effects.
- Increased odds of childhood leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue
sarcoma have been associated with children living in households where
pesticides are used.10 Other childhood malignancies associated with
pesticide exposures include neuroblastoma, Wilms’ tumor, Ewing’s
sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers of the brain,
colorectum, and testes
- Nearly 100,000 accidental pesticide exposures are reported to poison
control centers each year. Many of these exposures involve children,
providing clear evidence that current efforts to protect children
by manufacturers and others are inadequate.
- By-products of the insecticide chlorpyrifos were found in 93 percent
of urine samples taken from children ages three to 13.12 In a separate
study, 99 percent of 110 Seattle area children ages two to five had
detectable levels of organophosphate residues in their urine.
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- Nearly 30 million acres of lawn are routinely treated with lawncare
chemicals. Some of these treated lawns may be toxic to birds. Recent
Canadian studies found that between three and 14 bird deaths may
occur due to pesticides per acre of farmland. It only takes one granule
of diazinon to kill a bird.14 Recent testing of dead birds for the
West Nile virus by the State of New York found that birds had commonly
died from pesticide poisoning. Lawn-care pesticides were found to
be among the most common causes of death among the birds tested.1
- The U.S. Geological Survey found that 96 percent of all fish analyzed
in major rivers and streams contained residues of one or more pesticides
at detectable levels.
- Pesticides have been identified as a potential cause of amphibian
declines and deformities and have been implicated as one of the reasons
that wild and managed pollinators are disappearing at alarming rates.
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Pesticides in Water
- Most lawn-care chemicals have the potential to contaminate underlying
groundwater. The top five selling lawn-care pesticides, 2,4-D, glyphosate,
MCPP, dicamba, and diazinon, are all listed by the State of California
as having the potential to contaminate groundwater based on their
physical and chemical characteristics
- Studies of major rivers and streams have documented that 100 percent
of all surface water samples contained one or more pesticides at
- While pesticides are heavily used in Connecticut, neither groundwater
nor surface water monitoring is routinely conducted by the State
of Connecticut to detect contamination.
- Homeowners may unknowingly contaminate their own well water by
using pesticides on their lawns. Factors that influence a pesticide’s
potential to contaminate water include physiochemical factors, environmental
factors, application methods and other practices associated with
the pesticide use.
- 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.
- Pesticides—especially herbicides—have contaminated
drinking water throughout the country. Removing pesticides from contaminated
water supplies is difficult, expensive, and not always successful.
A California study found that among 600 water suppliers that have
detected pesticides in their water sources, only 40 use treatment
facilities that effectively reduce concentrations of pesticides.20
Another expert estimated that it cost an average of $3,000 per well
to rid it of pesticide contamination using filtration
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Labeling and Sales
- EHHI surveyed 18 stores in Connecticut and found that most stores
displayed pesticide packages with visible tears or rips. Their contents
had visibly contaminated store shelves, floors, and storage areas.
- The packaging of many lawn-care chemicals is porous, releasing
vapors from the chemicals into nearby air. These vapors are easily
detected by sense of smell, and often contaminate indoor air where
- The risks of long-term health effects, such as cancer and neurotoxicity,
are not reported on product labels. Only summaries of acute toxicity
are required on labels.
- Pesticide labels do not provide the consumer with sufficient warning
and instruction regarding the toxicity of contents, pesticide potential
to contaminate water supplies, effects on fish and wildlife, and
proper handling and disposal.
- Pesticide labels claim product benefits in multicolored letters
often several inches high. Warning information, directions for safe
use and disposal are commonly displayed in minute type on the backs
of 25-pound packages.
- Some lawn and garden packages require you to remove a plastic wrapping
to access multi-paged warnings about product ingredients, often printed
in minute type.
- Pesticides are commonly sold in stores that also sell food and
other consumer products.
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- Current laws and regulations do not demand safe and effective pesticide
packaging that ensures proper containment of the product throughout
the process of shipping, storage, sale, and disposal.
- The Connecticut Commissioner of Environmental Protection holds
the exclusive authority to regulate “pesticide spraying” on
private lands in the state, depriving local governments of the right
to restrict pesticide use on private property.
- Local governments do have the legal authority to limit the use
of pesticides on public lands, such as parks, highway rights-ofway,
schools and other grounds.
- Some pesticides commonly used on lawns and gardens in Connecticut,
including 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, and diazinon, have been banned or
restricted in other countries because of concerns about health effects.
- A number of cities in North America have restricted pesticide use
on public lands or limited the uses and types of pesticides.
- Many Canadian municipalities have banned or severely restricted
the use of lawn-care pesticides. The Province of Quebec recently
set “the highest standards in North America to decrease exposure
to pesticides” 23 when it prohibited some commonly used lawn
care pesticides (including 2,4-D and MCPP) from use on public lawns.
These pesticides will be prohibited from use on private and commercial
lawns in 2006.
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