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Survey Finds Lawn Care and Garden Practices Need Improvement
(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2004)
Results of a recent survey show that around half of the households surveyed may use lawn pesticides improperly.

The National Gardening Association (NGA) and Organic Gardening Magazine have recently announced the publication of the 2004 Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey, a report examining how environmentally responsible consumers are in their lawn, garden, and landscaping practices. The survey is based on research conducted in July 2004 on more than 2,000 households nationwide.

The survey found that a majority of U.S. households followed only 3 out of 12 recommended environmentally friendly lawn and garden practices, reported NGA Research Director Bruce Butterfield. Responses to the survey show that while over two thirds of those surveyed keep their yard safe, clean, and well maintained, only 53% of households read and follow the label carefully when using pesticides and fertilizers. Moreover, only 43% keep pesticides, fertilizer, and yard and pet waste out of water sources and off of pavement.

"It's clear homeowners make choices when caring for their lawns and gardens that have an impact on the environment," says Scott Meyer, Editor of Organic Gardening. This survey confirms earlier reports, such as EPA's National Home and Garden Pesticide Use Survey (1992), showing that people do not take adequate precautions when using pesticides.

Currently, 67 million pounds of pesticides are used each year on lawns. Suburban lawns and gardens receive far heavier pesticide applications per acre than most other land areas in the U.S., including agricultural acres. Pesticides used in lawn care are among the dangerous and most prevalent in society today. Of the 36 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 14 are probable or possible carcinogens, 15 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 24 with neurotoxicity, 22 with liver or kidney damage, and 34 are sensitizers and/or irritants. EPA approval of these chemicals is not a guarantee of safety; in fact, EPA believes that no pesticide can ever be considered perfectly "safe." For more information about lawn pesticides, see Lawn Pesticide Facts and Figures.

TAKE ACTION: Take steps to make your own lawn pesticide-free. To learn more about alternatives for safer lawn care, read our Least Toxic Control of Lawn Pests factsheet and other resources on our Lawns and Landscapes Program Page.