Since I was a child, I’ve been concerned about pesticide exposure.
My dad, Minor H. Slingsby, died in 1990 at age 80 from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a lymphatic system cancer. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is linked to pesticide exposure. My dad was an apple farmer.
I learned about this link from a story on National Public Radio a few months after my dad had been diagnosed. A story reported increasing numbers of farm worker children, who were in the fields with their parents, were developing the disease.
If you’re currently using pesticides on your yard, you need to be aware of the possible harmful effects. In this article, the term pesticide also refers to herbicides and fungicides.
Pesticides are harmful to humans
In addition to causing short-term health effects, long-term effects of pesticides that are known are cancers, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological and developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and disruption of the endocrine system, according to the article “Pesticides and Human Health” on Californians for Pesticide Reform.com.
Some people are more susceptible than others to pesticide impacts. For example, farm workers and pesticide applicators are more vulnerable because they receive greater exposures. Infants and young children are known to be more susceptible than adults to the toxic effects of pesticides.
For example, a recent study found that children who live in homes where their parents use pesticides are twice as likely to develop brain cancer versus those that live in residences in which no pesticides are used, reports Environmental Health News in the article “Pesticides Blamed for Some Childhood Brain Cancers.”
It’s well established that many pesticides cause cancer in animals, the article states.
People think that because the brightly colored boxes of pesticides are allowed to be sold in stores that they’re safe. Only a minimum amount of tests have been conducted on pesticides since they came into use after World War II.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the first time will require pesticide manufacturers to test 67 chemicals contained in their products to determine whether they disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates animals' and humans' growth, metabolism, and reproduction, The Washington Post reports in the article “EPA Will Mandate Tests on Pesticide Chemicals.”
Pesticides are harmful to lawns and gardens
Treating plants or controlling garden pests with chemicals often makes the situation worse because the chemicals damage the soil's natural defense system by killing off good organisms and bacteria along with the bad, reports the King County article “Chemical Use: Get Your Yard Off Drugs!”
Healthy soil is full of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that work together to keep disease and pests under control and protect the health of plants.
Building healthy soil by using compost, growing plants that resist plant diseases in your area, and planting a variety of plants, especially plants native to your area, will help you have healthy gardens and lawns.
Pesticides are harmful to the environment
Pesticides also damage forests, farmlands, deserts, and beaches.
These are three good reasons to stop using pesticides. They’re harmful to (1) your health and the health of those in your household, (2) your lawns and gardens, and (3) the environment.
To find out about the health effects of the pesticides you’ve used, see the Pesticide Action Network’s Pesticide Info Database.
Here are other resources to help get your yard off pesticides:
“Using Native Plants in Your Gardens Saves Time, Water, Money” – The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
“A New Way to Think about Lawns” – The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
Copyright 2009, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist