Former Chemical Applicator Comes Clean
“What to hell was I thinking?”
That was how a former kingpin of the chemical lawn care industry opened his interview with us this past week. Though we cannot divulge the name of the individual until later in 2010, he did consent to being filmed for the movie A Chemical Reaction. During December, his comments will be edited into the film in time for our flurry of spring screenings.
“When I look back on it now, I just shake my head,” he said. “I mean, our company actually had a nurse come in twice a month to check our blood to make sure the products we were using weren’t killing us. That seems insane, doesn’t it? When I was 22 I wore it as a badge. I was tough. I was using these poisons every day, but I was young and didn’t think anything of it.”
I asked him if workers were taken off the road due to excess levels of pesticides in their blood.
“All the time,” he said.
I asked him if his company ever received calls from customers who said their dogs and cats were sick.
“All the time,” he said. “It was a frequent occurrence. But our response was to treat the customers like they were kooks.”
This individual, like myself, now feels as if his usage of chemicals might have negatively impacted his own family member.
“My nephew has always had respiratory problems,” he said. “He’s got asthma; he’s allergic to a lot of things and has been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia. We’ve always wondered what the cause was.
“I’ve had a guilty conscience about this for a long time and I finally went to my sister and said, ‘You know, we’ve been treating your lawn since before he was born.’ She said, ‘Oh, that’s not a concern because your products are safer. Even my own sister bought on to it . . . bought into the deception that we were perpetuating. I finally got to the point where I couldn’t be a part of it anymore and I had to walk away.
“Even if there’s a chance that something I did harmed my nephew, that’s a bummer. A lingering doubt. A lingering concern. A life changer.”
We’ll bring more of this conversation to light in the coming weeks.