Monday, March 29, 2010

Rite of Spring: The lawn care hoax convinces us to expose our children and pets to dangerous chemical poisons

 Soon the lawn care trucks will begin hosing down suburban lawns – maybe yours? -- with toxic chemicals that they’ve convinced us are necessary for healthy grass.

It’s a dangerous and sophisticated marketing con job that we’ve all bought into. Wholesale application of lawn chemicals is not only unnecessary and a waste of money, it is dangerous for children and pets.

The group Beyond Pesticides says that of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward 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:

Children’s developing brains, nervous systems and reproductive organs are the most sensitive to long-term damage from environmental toxins. If you were intentionally applying the same chemicals to your child’s bedding, a call to the child welfare agency would be in order.

Lawn chemicals poison your pets, too. A study by Purdue University researchers showed herbicide-treated lawns increased the risk of bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers by four to seven times. That adds to other research showing the danger to dogs:
But companies like TruGreen continue peddling their toxics to a largely indifferent public. TruGreen was recently was dropped as an Earth Day sponsor in the wake of an outpouring of anger from environmentalists and organic gardeners. A half-million dollars worth of fines for safety violations didn’t help:

There are plenty of alternatives to artificially and chemically dependent turf grasses for your landscaping. And even if you insist on the turf grass, you can find companies who will keep it healthy without spraying dangerous chemicals on it.

You can establish a clover lawn, which creates its own fertilizer as a nitrogen fixer:

You could replace grass with hardier native plants: Such plants don’t need chemicals to thrive because nature has already designed them to thrive in Michigan’s climate and soil.

Or you could simply hire a lawn care company that will agree to manage your lawn with nontoxic products. This company outside Detroit turned up in a quick Google search. Don't know anything about them, but I like how they talk. If I do need lawn help, I may give them a call.

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