Pesticide-Free Zone Lawn Signs
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~ Beyond Pesticides
~ Organic Consumers Association
~ Environmental Health News
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Poison Control Center
Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill living things. Some pesticides accumulate in the fatty tissues of mammals, amphibians, birds and fish, interfering with their reproduction, growth and behaviour. Their hazards to people has been linked to increased risk of asthma, development and learning disorders, some forms of cancer, and harm to the nervous and hormonal systems. Despite these hazards, pesticides are used routinely in agriculture as well as schools, parks, golf courses, forests, roadsides, office and medical buildings, hospitals, and in the home and garden.
Pesticides contain undisclosed chemical ingredients. Pesticides contain "active" ingredients - chemicals intended to kill, and so-called "inert" ingredients - considered trade secrets by chemical companies. Despite their name, these secret ingredients are neither chemically, biologically or toxicologically inert. In many cases inert ingredients can be even more toxic than active chemicals.
Pesticides poison the food chain, and contaminate the water supplies. Although pesticides used and sold are registered, this does not mean they are safe. Even the federal government regulators do not claim that registration equals safety. Even when used as directed, pesticides can have many negative side effects on human health and the environment. "Acceptable" tolerance levels are set for an average adult male, and do not take into account the different situations of women and children. Pesticides are not tested in combination, although their synergistic effects may be amplified as much as 1000 times.
Pesticides are in many chemical products found around your home. In 1993 alone, an estimated 80,000 children were exposed to or poisoned by a household pesticide product that was used or stored incorrectly. Store pesticides in a locked cabinet out of reach of children and pets. Before you buy a pesticide, read the label first! The signal word - Danger-Poison, Danger, Warning, or Caution - tells you how poisonous the product is to humans. Teach children that "pesticides are poison" - something they should never touch or eat.
Once you begin to apply pesticides, your lawn can become addicted to chemical treatment. Repeated applications can cause soil to become conditioned, which speeds up degradation of the pesticides. This results in the need to apply increasingly toxic chemicals at more frequent intervals to control the pest problem. Meanwhile, beneficial organisms are killed off, soil can become sterile, and pesticide-resistant insects breed to produce a species able to withstand the toxins.
Sometimes a non-chemical method of control is as effective and convenient as a chemical alternative. The most effective strategy for controlling pests may be to combine methods in an approach known as integrated pest management (IPM) that emphasizes preventing pest damage. It's easier to prevent pests than to control them. The results achieved by using chemical pesticides are generally temporary and repeated treatments may be required.
Even if you never use pesticides yourself, you can still be exposed to them. Some local governments require notice "before" area-wide or broad-scale pesticide spraying activities take place. Notify your neighbors before using pesticides outdoors so they can reduce their exposure to airborne pesticide residues, or drift. Tell EPA about any adverse effects associated with pesticide exposure. If you know or suspect that you, or others close to you, are sensitive to chemicals, consult an expert who can help you develop a strategy for handling your potential exposure problems.
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