This posting is by Keven Adams, longtime Rochester resident.
Lawn Chemicals April 2020
After my spouse and I settled into our Browncroft neighborhood (more than a decade ago now), we began to research lawn care companies to see which one was right for us. I compared prices of several local companies before finally settling on one. It just so happened that at the time I was in school doing research on a completely unrelated topic—when I came across a study on lawn chemicals. One medical journal led to another, and my vague interest in something as mundane as lawn-care turned into an obsession. I spent the next 4 years looking at the numerous studies on the pesticides and fertilizers used by the lawn-care industry. Aside from an array of peer-reviewed studies and reports from various science and medical journals about lawn chemicals and their effects on humans (and the environment), I also looked at the history of the lawn care industry, as I tried to figure out why millions of Americans—including myself—had no idea just how dangerous these chemicals were.
After talking with area lawn-care companies, I realized that they all used those extremely toxic products I had read about. Although most lawn-care products are marketed under random names like “Weed Pro”, because of my research, I knew those chemicals by their generic or scientific names and, more importantly, I knew what they did to the human body. Needless to say, I did not hire a lawn-care company—but I still wanted a beautiful lawn—so what was I to do?
It’s now been years since my research began, and while I have been spinning my wheels trying to alert my friends and neighbors to the health-hazards of lawn chemicals, I felt somewhat vindicated by the news that Monsanto was finally having to answer for the countless deaths and illnesses caused by their product RoundUp. Unfortunately, Roundup, is just the tip of the iceberg. Along with Glyphosate (the scientific name for Monsanto’s product “Roundup”), lawn care companies are using an array of deadly, fertilizers and pesticides including 2,4-D—which is more popular than Roundup and potentially deadlier. 2,4 D is a dioxin-laden lawn chemical created by Dow chemical and used during the Vietnam War under a different name—Agent Orange. Despite the fact that Germany, Canada, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and many other countries have banned 2,4,D , it is a known endocrine disruptor which has been linked to Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and it is still used on millions of lawns across America.
Through my continued research, I found that companies like Dow and Monsanto not only helped create the modern lawn care industry, they have been using local and national companies to market obsolete and hazardous products. Today, it is illegal to use Agent Orange against an enemy combatant—but in America, it’s totally legal to use it on our homes—and our neighbor’s homes, and we’re not even at war.
Unfortunately, I now know way more than I would care to about the lawn care industry, and like the cigarette industry, the lawn care industry knows exactly what their products are, and what they are doing to our health.
Like anyone else, I also want a nice-looking lawn, but I’m also not about to risk my health for it—and it makes even less sense now, during this Covid 19 pandemic, to expose ourselves to chemicals that wreak havoc on the human immune system.
If you want to know what your lawn will look like if you stop using lawn chemical companies just look at the grass at school # 46. Since 2003 it is illegal to use lawn chemicals on school grounds due to the links to leukemia and other cancers. School lawns are what you see with no work at all—but if you are like me and you are anal about dandelions, I found that after a couple years of pulling weeds for 15 minutes a day during the two weeks of dandelion season—I have virtually no dandelions coming up anymore.
I realize no one has the time to do the amount of research I did on this subject so I have made my findings available online for anyone interested. I also have a reference list available so people can have access to some of the same research I looked at. I don’t have an ax to grind with chemical companies, or lawn companies and I have no political agenda—It’s just that, knowing what I know now, I would feel horrible if one of my neighbors got sick, simply because I didn’t share what I found out. That’s all.
Here’s the link to my research http://lawncarechemicals.blogspot.com
Here are some sources you can check out…
Agent Orange in Your Backyard: The Harmful Pesticide 2,4-D
Gina Solomon, February 24, 2012
Health effects of common home, lawn, and garden pesticides
CJ Karr, GM Solomon, AC Brock-Utne - Pediatric Clinics of North America, 2007 - Elsevierhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031395506001556
Robbins, Paul, and Sharp, Julie. "The Lawn‐Chemical Economy and Its Discontents." Antipode 35, no. 5 (2003): 955-979.
Pesticides and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
SH Zahm, A Blair - Cancer Research, 1992 - AACR https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/52/19_supplement/5485s.short
Mortality study of pesticide applicators and other employees of a lawn care service company
SH Zahm - Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 1997 - journals.lww.com
Urinary Excretion of 2,4-D in Commercial Lawn Specialists
Roger Allen Yeary/ Applied Industrial Hygiene
Volume 1, 1986 - Issue 3
Pages 119-121 | Received 19 Feb 1986, Accepted 27 Feb 1986, Published online: 24 Feb 2011https://oeh.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08828032.1986.10390493#.XpdchS2ZOfU
“Pesticides and Immune System: The Public Health Risk.”
Repetto, R., et al. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, March, 1996.
"Biological monitoring survey of organophosphorus pesticide exposure among pre-school children in the Seattle metropolitan area." Lu, Chensheng, Dianne E. Knutson, Jennifer Fisker-Andersen, and Richard A. Fenske. Environmental health perspectives 109, no. 3 (2001): 299.
Pesticides and health risks
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing
Volume 39, Issue 1, January–February 2010, Pages 103-110
RC Gilden, K Huffling, B Sattler - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & …, 2010 – Elsevier
Monsanto Roundup Cancer FAQ
Lung Cancer and Other Causes of Death Among Licensed Pesticide Applicators
Aaron Blair, Ph.D, Dan J. Grauman, M.S., Jay H. Lubin, Ph.D., Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., M.D.
JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 71, Issue 1, July 1983, Pages 31–37, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/71.1.31
Published: 01 July 1983
Wide range of diseases linked to pesticides
K Owens, J Feldman, J Kepner - Pesticides and You, 2010 - beyondpesticides.org
Pesticides in children
JR Reigart, JR Roberts - Pediatric Clinics of North America, 2001 – Elsevier
Pesticides and human chronic diseases: Evidences, mechanisms, and perspectives
Sara Mostafa lou Mohammad Abdollahi
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Volume 268, Issue 2, 15 April 2013, Pages 157-177
Low-dose agrochemicals and lawn-care pesticides induce developmental toxicity in murine preimplantation embryos.
Anne R Greenlee , Tammy M Ellis , and Richard L Berg
Published:1 May 2004
“Refuse to Use Chemlawn, Be Truly Green: Why Lawn Care Pesticides are Dangerous to Your Children, Pets and the Environment.” Matthew Wilson, and Jay Rasku, Toxics Action Center, March, 2005, 1.
Bayer faces fourth U.S. Roundup cancer trial in Monsanto's hometown
Grant, Jennifer. “The Child Safe Playing Fields Act: NY’s ban on pesticide use on school and day care center grounds.” Cornell University, Turfgrass Times, Vol. 22(1), 2011.
Poison in the Grass: The Hazards and Consequences of Lawn Pesticides
N Diegelman - skin, 2001 - goodheartgroupinc.com
Updated April 2020