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Toronto Medical Officer Releases Report on Lawn Pesticides
(from September 4, 2002)

Dr. Sheela Basrur, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, has released a report on strategies to phase out the use of non-essential pesticides. "Playing it Safe: Healthy Choices about Lawn Care Pesticides" summarizes the health risks associated with pesticides and asks Toronto residents to consider a number of questions about reducing cosmetic pesticide use. Dr. Basrur said that phasing out pesticide use is one way to reduce the risk to human health from toxic substances in the environment.

"There is enough compelling evidence to warn the public of health risks that may result from long term exposure to pesticides. It's time to shift to alternatives."

The document cites scientific studies identifying risks to children, pregnant women and workers from pesticide exposure. Dr. Basrur referred to studies that have found pesticide residues may be affecting Toronto's aquatic ecosystem. She also noted that because pesticides are in widespread use and are mobile in the environment, it is virtually impossible to avoid contact with them.

Since 1998, the city has voluntarily reduced 97 percent of its pesticide use on city-owned property. "The City of Toronto has worked hard to nearly eliminate pesticide use in our parks. Now it's time to work with residents to help ensure their lawns are safe and healthy," said Dr. Basrur.

For more information, see http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/health/hphe/pesticides_index.htm or contact Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, at 416-338-7873.