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Study Examines Link Between Golf Course Pesticides and Cancer
(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2004)
A recent study published in the July-August issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health gives a comprehensive review of the carcinogenicity and genotoxicity of pesticides commonly used on golf courses. The report found a link between use of certain pesticides on golf courses, such as 2,4-D, and cancer in humans and wildlife.

The report, "Carcinogenic and Genotoxic Potential of Turf Pesticides Commonly Used on Golf Courses," was written by Loren Knopper and David Lean, of the University of Ottawa's Department of Biology. The authors write that "it seems timely to review the carcinogenic and genotoxic potential of commonly used golf-course pesticides." With over 1,600 golf courses in Canada and between 400 and 600 new courses created each year in Canada and the United States, there appears to be increasing potential for unintentional human and animal exposure to turf pesticides, the report states.

Some of the reports cited in the article include a biomonitoring study that showed genotoxicity in rodent species living in golf-courses of Canada's Ottawa/Gatineau region and a study by the Attorney General's Office of New York State which found that golf courses on Long Island used almost four to seven times the average amount of pesticides than was used for agriculture purposes. After considering a range of studies, the authors write, "determining a clear, causal relationship between pesticide exposure and health problems such as cancer is extremely complicated, and even the most unbiased and stringent studies cannot account for all variables."

Despite the complexity of the issue, the authors conclude after examining the studies that "there appears to be convincing in vitro and in vivo laboratory and epidemiological evidence to support the claim that, under certain circumstances, iprodione, chlorothalonil, PMA and 2,4-D have been associated with cancer in human and animals." The authors also pointed out that they are unaware of any ongoing studies on the health effects of people or animals that come into contact with golf course pesticides, and recommended that golf-course superintendents, their staff and the wildlife found on golf courses undergo further study.

See the report online if you are a subscriber to this journal, or read more about the study by clicking here.

TAKE ACTION: For more information regarding golf and pesticides, see Beyond Pesticides' Golf Program Page. If you are a golf player or live near a golf course, check out the Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States, a set of principles jointly developed by a group of leading golf and environmental organizations that seeks to produce environmental excellence in golf course planning and siting, design, construction, maintenance and facility operations, and encourage your local golf course to adopt these principles.