Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Publish Day - Ink Blog - On Pesticides

I'm not a tree-hugging, granola-crunching, scooter-driving enviro-zealot. But I do care about our planet, and I do care about the future of our children.

So when I see lawn care folks criss-crossing the neighborhood and wearing space suits while they spray the grass, I worry. When we have to stay off the lawns for days afterward, I worry.

Although I’m no scientist, my journalist’s and parent’s gut tells me drenching the yard with unpronounceable chemicals in the pursuit of The Perfect Lawn is most definitely a Bad Thing – all caps deliberate.

So I wrote this:

Pesticide bylaw’s troubling issues

Published Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The London Free Press

Although I’m happy to see opponents of pesticide spraying working closely with lawn-care industry representatives to hammer out improvements to London’s proposed pesticide bylaw, I still worry it will result in a watered down end result.

Each side has quoted conflicting statistics that alternately claim

pesticides are either as non-threatening as a spring shower, or are the urban equivalent of a toxic waste dump.

While the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, two stark facts remain: The people who spray the lawns in my neighborhood wear heavy protective gear while doing so; and the signs they leave behind forbid using the lawns for at least three days.

If the stuff is so safe, why all the precautions?

In raising our kids, we err on the side of caution until we know better. I don’t understand why we – and our elected leaders – have been so quick to accept the lawn-care industry’s claims at face value.

The relentless pursuit of a perfect lawn just doesn’t seem worth the risk.


Update: After this piece was published, I received an e-mail from a woman who says she's a biologist who works in the lawn care industry. As you can appreciate, she disagree with my perspectives on this issue. Her points were very well taken, and I was glad she took the time to share her thoughts with me. I'm sorry I neglected to ask if she would be confortable having her child stand under a stream of her firm's lawn care solution. I guess now we'll never know.


ribbiticus said...

your concern is a valid one. if being asked to wear protective gear when doing something as simple as spraying our lawns and being advised to keep off it for a couple of days doesn't trigger alarms going off in our heads then good luck to all of us.

kenju said...

Carmi, we used to have pesticides sprayed on our lawn, and it smelled so bad that I decided it could not be good for anyone - so we stopped it. We have weeds, but who cares?

kenju said...

Darn, Michele sent me again. I forgot to tell you.