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Organic Landscaping Safer for People and the Environment, Group Says

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2007) With questions about the safety of toxic lawn chemicals and concerns about the impact of petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers on soil health, water pollution and global warming, the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns issued its Spring message to homeowners and land managers: Go organic!

As the lawn chemical companies hit the advertising airwaves this Spring pushing companies like “Lawn Doctor” and “Scotts,” the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns is urging homeowners and land managers to reject toxic pesticides and synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers and instead adopt organic products and practices. The Coalition is a consortium of public health and environmental groups and landscapers nationwide that points to the long list of scientific studies documenting the human health, wildlife, pet, and environmental hazards associated with pesticide products used by the typical commercial lawn care companies and sold at lawn and garden centers.

“Scotts Miracle-Gro Company advertising this season is particularly misleading because it suggests practices such as sweeping chemical granules off driveways and pavement after lawn application to protect local waterways, while the program they are selling introduces unnecessary health and environmental hazards given the viability of organic non-toxic practices,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Chemical lawn pesticides are linked in the scientific literature to cancer in people and pets, and are known to be toxic to the nervous and immune system, endocrine disruptors, and tied to respiratory effects such as asthma. Organic practices rely on maintenance techniques and soil health that prevent unwanted insect and weeds.

The Coalition promotes A Simple Guide to Creating a Healthy Lawn, Read Your “Weeds” for parks, lawns and playing fields this Spring that addresses the whole turf system, including developing healthy soil, maintaining a proper pH balance, selection of appropriate grasses and other plants, aeration of compacted soil, timely thatch removal, and proper mowing, correct watering, and organic fertilizing methods.

The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns maintains a website with scientific documentation on the hazards of chemical lawn care, the benefits of organic care, and activist tools for community change, http://www.pesticidefreelawns.org. A new public service announcement, Organic Lawns Now!, was released yesterday. This Winter the Coalition offered the first on-line training in Organic Land Care for Municipalities and Transitioning Landscapers with organic horticulturist, Chip Osborne (Marblehead, MA) with participants from 18 states, District of Columbia and Canada. (Available on the website.) The Coalition saw a surge in activity last Spring when activists in 39 states distributed the safe lawn door hang tags, Want a Green Lawn Safe for Children and Pets, providing information on pesticide hazards and alternatives, throughout their neighborhoods.

Landscapers offering alternatives to chemicals can be found at

TAKE ACTION: Radio provides a great outlet to get the message out about the importance of organic land care. Public service announcements (PSAs) are often played by radio stations as a service to the public. The chances that they will be played increases greatly if the request comes from a local listener! That is why we need your help. Please contact your local radio station and request that they play our PSA promoting the importance of organic land care for healthy communities.

How to Contact Your Local Radio Station
Contact your local station’s programming director or find the station’s website to find out their preferred method for receiving PSAs. Tell them you would like them to air the PSA on the importance of organic land care in protecting public health and the environment. You can give them an MP3 they can play, or the text version if they would like to read it themselves.

Sample email text:
Dear Radio Programming Director,
Please help us promote the protection of state and local water supplies and public health. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns and myself request that you play a 30 second public service announcement -Organic Lawns Now- on the importance organic land care. This very timely and emerging topic is of interest to all families and communities concerned with protecting their children, pets and environment.

We would appreciate it if you could air Organic Lawns Now throughout the spring and summer seasons. The MP3 and text versions are attached.

Report Back
Let us know if you hear the PSA played in your community!

Links to the PSA and text as well as additional community resources, http://www.beyondpesticides.org/pesticidefreelawns/actions/index.htm. For more information, contact Eileen Gunn at 202-543-5450.


2 Responses to “Organic Landscaping Safer for People and the Environment, Group Says”

  1. 1
    michael Says:

    When using proprietary lawn products (feed weed and moss kill) most of the manufacturers claim ‘safe for children and pets’.

    Before using these products try an internet search for non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and mecroprop (MCPP). Mecroprop (MCPP) is one of the key ingredients of most lawn (feed weed and moss kill) products.

    I have a lawn which is about 300 sq metres and have treated it about three times a year for the last eleven years. In February 2007 I was diagnosed with cancer, non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and mecroprop high grade B cell (aggressive). I am a teacher, don’t smoke, rarely drink, have never worked with chemicals and have never lived anywhere near the production or storage of chemicals or hazardous substances. I am physically fit cycle every day and work out regularly and have never had any serious health problems. The only history of cancer in the family has been lung cancers of relatives who were prolific smokers. On a hunch I searched the internet for links between non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lawn products, I lost count of the number of hits.

    Looking back I remember when pouring the granules through a funnel into the lawn spreader/applicator, the fine dust given off used to make my nose run and leave a nasty taste in my mouth.

    There is no absolute proof of a connection between non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and mecroprop (MCPP) but the evidence is compelling.

    Do you really want to take a chance with your own or your children’s health? I wish I had my time over again with the benefit of prior knowledge.

  2. 2
    Simon Says:

    Very interesting reading, especially the above post, as I work in the turf care industry and am regularly exposed to these herbicides and pesticides.

    Fortunately there has been a move in recent years with in the industry to encourage more sustainable turf care practices such as the use organic products etc.

    Having said that, without the relevant legislation I don’t think we will ever see the back of these harmful chemicals.

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