March 17, 2010

Impact of lawn chemicals unnoticed by landowners

As I walk through my Portland neighborhood, I\'m always stunned by how many people still use herbicides and pesticides to give their lawn the look of a golf course.

I\'m guessing most people simply aren\'t aware that they\'re spreading poison – not only on their own little parcel, but also directly into Back Cove every time it rains.

Despite the lawn care industry\'s powerful PR efforts, there are no \"good\" pesticides or herbicides.

These toxins are designed to kill – or interrupt – natural processes, making them especially hazardous for kids and pets. Even low doses have been linked to cancers such as leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Dogs exposed to lawn herbicides are four to seven times more likely to develop bladder cancer, studies show.

One of my pesticide-using neighbors is a doctor with small children. I have to assume she has no idea of the dangers. My guess is that most people just hire a lawn care company and look the other way.

I doubt many of the people who use pesticides feel passionately about them. Maybe we can win them over by example – by planting beautiful, toxin-free flowers and plants in our own yards.

We need to brag about our chemical-free approach, to show what\'s possible. I\'ve created some free \"safe zone\" lawn signs and posted them online at

Some cities have already banned pesticides and herbicides. That might be the next step for Portland. But until then, let\'s start voluntarily winding down the age of the poisonous lawn.

Matt Power



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