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Toxic Lawns Abound with Youth Soccer/TruGreen ChemLawn Partnership
(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2003)
The chemical lawn care company TruGreen ChemLawn is sponsoring US Youth Soccer, the nation's largest youth sports association, the company announced on May 19th, 2003, according to the Arkansas State Soccer Association's publication Corner Kick. TruGreen will likely receive increased business out of the deal, since it is publicly pledging a "percentage of every purchase made by members and supporters of US Youth Soccer back to US Youth Soccer." In other words, soccer parents and other members of US Youth Soccer will be persuaded to hire TruGreen to treat their own lawns, since doing so will result in TruGreen donating money to the youth sports association. The donated monies will go toward "field refurbishment across the United States," giving the company even more business, as it is now signed on as the "exclusive lawn care, turf care and landscape maintenance provider" of the sports organization. The partnership runs through December 31, 2004, with a two-year option.

US Youth Soccer registers more than 3.2 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, in 55 member state organizations. Unfortunately, this age group is particularly susceptible to poisoning from the toxic herbicides and chemicals that TruGreen ChemLawn regularly uses. Children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure. They take in more pesticides relative to their body weight than adults. Their developing organ systems often make them more sensitive to toxic exposure. Using hazardous chemicals on athletic fields is especially alarming since bodies of children and youths are often in direct contact with the grass. Although Don Karnes, president of TruGreen companies, states he is proud to support the community by treating lawns "where our employees work and play," alternative methods to create a green, healthy lawn would be much safer for the soccer players. Using integrated pest management (IPM) encourages grass growth with detection and monitoring, use of appropriate grass species and reduction of soil compaction among other techniques. In turn, IPM bypasses the need for chemicals by creating a healthy lawn that deters pests. The Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC) has done extensive research on the subject. Their findings are available in the article "IPM for School Lawns" by Sheila Daar and Tanya Drlik.

To contact US Youth Soccer with comments on the newfound partnership with TruGreen ChemLawn, call Chris Branscome at 1-800-476-2237. For more information regarding least-toxic lawn care, including athletic fields, please contact Beyond Pesticides.