40 Common Lawn and Landscape Chemicals
Pesticides for aesthetic purposes are widely used on lawns, landscapes, parks, playing fields, and open space by the general public, city/town/county governments, and commercial companies. Many of these chemicals harm health and the environment with both immediate and long-term effects. The “40 Most Commonly Used Lawn and Landscape Pesticides” factsheets make the science on pesticide hazardous to people, pets, and the environment accessible and easy to understand. When used with information on organic land management practices (see Lawns and Landscape webpage and ManageSafe), land managers can adopt a healthy approach to lawn and landscape care.
To learn more about home/garden pest management, alternative products, and pesticide ingredients not listed on these factsheets please jump down to the Beyond Pesticides Resources section following the document.
Beyond Pesticides' infographic (below) offers a summary overview of each factsheet. Furthermore, access the full factsheet below:
Health Effects Environmental Effects
Using the Factsheets
Empty cells in the factsheets may refer to either (i) insufficient data or (ii) a determination, based on currently available data, that the chemical is relatively nontoxic. The key following the chart includes information on how to interpret the categorization of specific compounds. The analysis supporting the adverse health and environmental effects identified in the factsheets are based on toxicity determinations in government reviews and university studies and databases. More in-depth information on the specific chemicals is available on the Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management. The factsheets and Gateway are organized by active ingredients in pesticides products (trade names; for example, glyphosate is the active ingredient in the product RoundupTM), so identify the active ingredients in the product(s) of concern by searching the web for the product label or company information and then find that active ingredient in the factsheets or the Gateway.
Chemical Exposure and Underlying Conditions
Acute and chronic exposure to chemicals like pesticides can cause a range of harmful effects. Even use in accordance with the pesticide product label directions can cause or promote:
- Neurotoxicity/Developmental and Learning Disabilities
- Reproductive and Birth Defects
- Respiratory Illnesses
- Endocrine/Immune Disruption
- Skin irritation/headaches/disorientation
Additionally, exposure to these toxic pesticides can weaken the body’s immune response to illnesses, and initiate or promote underlying conditions and vulnerabilities—like respiratory issues such as asthma or endocrine disruption problems like diabetes.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019 further demonstrates (in even more jarring form) the harsh reality of pesticide exposure—as we learn that those with comorbidities are more vulnerable to the virus, resulting in disproportionate impact in essential workers and those with underlying conditions. With COVID-19 plaguing global health, it is especially important to eliminate exposure to toxic chemicals that pose the same health hazard or elevate pre-existing health conditions. Most pesticides (including disinfectants), similar to COVID-19, act on the respiratory system, exacerbating adverse inflammatory responses, and impair the immune and nervous systems. Therefore, a serious cumulative and in some cases synergistic effect may occur between the disease and toxic chemicals, worsening disease outcomes. (See Beyond Pesticides' webpage on Safer Disinfectants and Sanitizers, Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, and Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management.)
Organic Land Management
While chemical land management focuses on treating problems caused by conventional management practices and chemical use, the organic approach is a preventive system that addresses root causes. In this context, unwanted organisms (pests, including insects and weeds) are the symptoms of a problem caused by poor soil health and management practices.
The key to a healthy lawn is healthy soil and proper mowing, watering, fertilizing and other cultural practices. Healthy soil contains high organic content and is teeming with biological life. Healthy soil supports the development of healthy and resilient turf and landscapes that naturally manage weeds, insects, and fungal diseases.
Furthermore, organic land management represents an economically viable approach for individual homeowners, landscapers, local parks departments, and school districts committed to the adoption of practices that protect health and the environment. (See Beyond Pesticides' Cost Comparison Document.)