Daily News Archive
August 19, 2005
Calls for Reduction of Lawn Pesticides in Massachusetts
(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2005) The Environmental
League of Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Alliance for a Healthy
Tomorrow, released a new report this
tracks an increase in residential lawn and garden pesticide use in Massachusetts,
Ourselves: Residential Pesticide Use in Massachusetts.”
"Many people don't realize how toxic pesticides for lawn and garden
use are, and the government is partially to blame for that," stated
Megan Amundson, co-author of the report. "Labels on pesticides
don't adequately inform the user of the health consequences of using
a pesticide. As a result, people become very comfortable with pesticide
use despite the breadth of studies that explain connections between
pesticide exposure and very serious health problems."
According to the report, both the amount of money spent by residents
and the amount of pesticides used on lawns and gardens in Massachusetts
has jumped after two decades of almost level spending and use. In 2001,
Massachusetts residents used 23 percent more pesticides on their lawns
and gardens than they used in 1994.
A growing body of
research has linked pesticide exposure to cancers, developmental disorders,
and birth defects, and more news surfaces regularly about the hidden
dangers of many of the most commonly used pesticides. Children are most
susceptible to pesticide exposure because of their developing organ
systems and behavioral activities that increase their exposure. Concern
for children's health in Massachusetts sparked the passage of the Children
and Families Protection Act, which attempted to protect children from
pesticides at school, but has not been fully implemented.
"There is a scientific consensus on the link between health effects
and exposure to many commonly used lawn and garden pesticides,"
explained Susan Roll, the Associate Executive Director for Massachusetts
Breast Cancer Coalition. "2,4-D and organophosphates are good examples
of pesticides or a group of pesticides for which there is extensive
research that links them to serious health threats. And yet, they remain
some of the most used pesticides on lawns and gardens."
Despite the clear links between pesticide exposure and health, lawn
and garden pesticide use in Massachusetts is on the rise from the 1990s
in both the money spent on pesticides and the amount of pesticides purchased.
The lawn and garden sector is a growing proportion of the pesticide
market. And some of the most toxic pesticides are the most commonly
used in home and garden settings: 2,4-D is the most commonly used pesticide
for home and garden and a number of organophosphates make the top 10
most used home and garden pesticides.
"This report sounds three alarms," said Janet Domenitz, Executive
Director of MASSPIRG. "One alarm is for the public, letting people
know that most pesticides are poisonous and there are safer alternatives
for healthy lawns. One alarm is for our lawmakers, who need to use their
power to better protect the public. And the third alarm is for the companies
who make toxic pesticides and market them for lawn use," she said.
"We can respond to these alarms by passing the three bills recommended
in this report, two of which are being heard by the legislature today,
and all of which will better protect the public from toxic pesticides."
The report supports the passage of three pesticide related bills currently
introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature. One bill, (HB
1287) expands the current Children and Families Protection Act in
MA to prohibit the use of specific toxic pesticides in schools, day
care facilities, hospitals, health care centers, on municipal and state
property, and by non-agricultural commercial pesticide applicators.
The other (SB
778) remove a tax exemption for pesticides, and the third (SB
553) requires the use of safer alternatives where they exist for
ten toxic chemicals, including 2,4-D.
The report is available in print and at www.EnvironmentalLeague.org.
ACTION: Encourage schools, neighbors, park managers and
others to stop their dependence on toxic lawn chemicals and adopt sustainable
land care practices that will not adversely effect humans and wildlife.
Join the National
Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns or visit the Beyond Pesticides
Lawns and Landscape Issue page.