It’s that time of year, when small, harmless looking square flags appear on lawns, indicating in words or block diagrams that children and pets should stay off the lawn for 24 hours.
Magically, in the 25th hour, lawns are restored to a non-toxic environment, free of chemical dissipation or residue of any kind, inviting one and all to enjoy somersaults, frisbee with the dog and water slide fun until the next application.
Many revel in their idyllic summer moments set on a lush, chemically induced carpet of green. As scientifically impossible as it sounds to be in a skulls and crossbones scenario for a short period of time and at the stroke of midnight revert to a state of purity, scores of residents subscribe to this method of chemical potions causing toxic run off into our ground water and rivers, tracking chemicals into our house on shoe soles and contributing to our collective body burden of chemical load.
If inhaling the products in question caused dogs to convulse and children to swoon, people would more readily understand. But because these lawn chemicals have latent effects not seen for years, with search engine overload in case studies proving toxicity left and right, the common sense connection is ignored. Combine the pursuit of the perfect lawn with successful lobbying on behalf of product manufacturers and the result is more ignorance to go around than the average spreader can handle.
If the little square flags signs don’t sound enough warning bells, consider that one needs a license prominently displayed on the container vehicle to apply these so-called harmless chemical potions. Alternatives exist and don’t require licensure for handling, or even gloves for that matter!
Take a look at Beyond Pesticides, a group with specific pesticide information and alternatives for all lawn maladies. A company in New Jersey, offers eco-friendly lawn care that even a baby can safely roll in 24/7. Our own pesticide free lawn had a case of grubs last season; nothing that a host of beneficial nematodes couldn’t handle thanks to Gardens Alive.
In addition to our residential lawns, our middle and high school properties follow annual IPMs unchanged, year after year. If the crabgrass of three years ago was handled effectively by the powerful product claims, we should not continue to see the same product put down every year thereafter for “pre-emergent crabgrass”. How do we know we have it if it’s pre-emergent? Prodiamine is obviously not doing the job it claims to accomplish, negative side effects are documented and the expense is not justified.
If turf building has been successful, there would not be a need for annual blind application of Speed Zone for clover and broadleaf weeds. Yes, weeds recur but spot treatments with alternative, eco-friendly solutions should become the norm as opposed to blanketing entire fields with toxins. It takes creativity to move from renewal of annual chemical contracts to learning and effectively applying alternatives, but let’s step up to the plate and be pro active about doing the right thing. Alarm bells should be clanging when required warnings accompany the email notification from the schools to parents prior to application indicating
“Note: as required by law, we are advising you of the following statement: The Office of Pesticide Programs of the United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated: “Where possible, persons who potentially are sensitive, such as pregnant women, infants, and children, should avoid any unnecessary pesticide exposure.”
CHILDREN are mentioned in the very statement sent out by the schools! It has moved beyond being acceptable to just do what is within the law.
Bernards Township is to be lauded for voluntarily moving to become a pesticide free township. That means no spraying of Roundup along fence lines of baseball fields or park areas before July 4th events…and it’s still a beautiful place. Their Board of Ed passed a resolution declaring that school lawns and athletic fields be managed without pesticides. Why not RiverDell?
Someone already broke the ground for us to learn from. They’re saving money, preventing unnecessary health concerns and we just have to follow suit!
The order of bringing a pesticide to market first and then removing it after proven unsafe is the very root of the problem. Pesticide industry propaganda is worth a glance as we all ingest, inhale and absorb entire families of chemicals. Remember, kids danced in the spray of DDT trucks. It was perfectly legal at the time. Legal does not equal safe, healthy or wise.
Blanketing our local environment with chemical compounds in dizzying combinations, is a toxic legacy to pass on to our future generations. How do you do the cost-benefit analysis on our children and their children? It can’t be done. Embrace your inner dandelion!