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Government Agency: We Must Reduce Toxics

Those of us who advocate for pesticide-free lawn care are constantly met with the same responses from the chemical industry: “Our products are safe when used as directed” or “We apply our pesticides in such small doses they couldn’t possibly be dangerous.”

In what can only be called a ground-breaking debunking of those myths, the American Chemical Society — a non-partisan, non-profit organization chartered by Congress — called on the Environmental Protection Agency to completely revamp its testing procedures for toxic chemicals. The position statement was specifically targeting chemicals that disrupt the human endocrine system that controls our hormonal function.

“Endocrine hormones naturally act at ultra-low concentrations and certain chemicals are suspected of altering endocrine function at similarly low concentrations,” said the report, which challenged the prevailing notion that “the dose makes the poison.”

In many cases, according to the report, smaller doses of chemicals such as pesticides may actually be more harmful than larger ones: “This makes it impossible to predict the effects of low-dose exposures based upon high-dose experiments. The effects can be not only different, but opposite.”

Numerous lawn chemicals are known endocrine disruptors.

“Studies have identified endosulfan, methoxychlor, dicofol, lindane, DDT and its metabolites, vinclozolin, chlor-decone, toxaphene, 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, atrazine, carbaryl, dieldrin, heptachlor, mirex, malathion, synthetic pyrethroids, and chlordane as endocrine disrupting chemicals,” according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund.

Here is a link to the full statement from the Chemical Society:

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • lawntreepro

    I’ll give you one thing, Tukey, you are relentless. You post your propaganda here every day and your travel schedule is sick. What do you really have against chemicals? I can’t figure you out. I think your web site should at least come clean about one thing: who’s paying for all this “work” you’re doing in an attempt to destroy an honest, safe industry? Or are you just one messed up human being?

    • Paul Tukey

      I’ll take your comments as compliments. So thank you. A few points:

      1) I’m not in this to put anyone out of business; I’m here to show people a different way of doing business. In Quebec, where some communities have banned herbicides used to kill dandelions for nearly 20 years, the lawn care industry is still alive and well. Lawns still look great and property values are high. History simply does not support the notion that taking away pesticides kills the industry.
      2) Our money comes from our sponsors, who are clearly delineated on our web site, as well as our members and the people who buy our books and now our movie. We also take speaking fees and honoraria for our appearances in public. It’s a hand-to-mouth existence. I wish we had more sources of income!
      3) This is my job, my career, and something I try to do well. “Relentless?” Absolutely.

    • It’s Only Natural Landscaping

      Dear lawntreepro,

      That’s an interesting perspective you provide: Though I’d like to hear a little more about why you disagree.

      Can you make a legitimate argument for the continued usage of lawn chemicals (besides the obvious: money)?

      And this? “What do you really have against chemicals?”
      There was time that statement would have read:
      What do you really have against lead based paint?
      What do you really have against slavery?
      What do you really have against agent orange?
      What do you really have against asbestos?

  • lawntreepro

    If lawn chemicals were bad for you, there would be sick people everywhere, because there are lawns everywhere. You organic zealots pounce on the tiniest shred of “evidence” and shout it to the world as if it’s significant. I’m not saying that lawn chemicals can’t be dangerous if someone uses them improperly, but I am saying that day-in and day-out, these chemicals are just as safe as hairsprays, cleaning fluids, all kinds of stuff we use every day.

    I was at that New Hampshire hearing that day and Jimmy Campanella from Lawn Dawg made the best point of anyone: People are living longer these days. So how can chemicals really be bad if that simple fact is true, which it is. You know how many insects we’d have flying around if we didn’t have chemicals? Do you know how bad it would be? Do you really want to go back to the dark ages?

    You organic lawn guys are on the fringe and that’s where, thankfully, you’re going to stay.

    • It’s Only Natural Landscaping

      Where to start?!?

      THERE ARE SICK PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Know anyone with Cancer? If not – you’re probably the ONLY American that doesn’t.

      We are living longer because of better healthcare – not necessarily because we are any healthier.

      Does your company apply warning signs post-application? Ever wonder why you need to do that? You really can’t get any stronger evidence than that.

      There’s really NO good argument that you can make for continued usage of poisonous substances on lawns. Why do we use 10 times more pesticides on our lawns than what we use to grow FOOD?

      You keep on misleading your customers about how safe it is & we on “the fringe” will keep on encouraging our customers to make the choice that we ALL KNOW is right.

      The change is happening fast too – I converted 70+ clients last year to a natural approach. Within ten years – there will be no weed/feed as we know it. And we’ll look back in shame as the practice is added to the list of things we now regret.

      Don’t let money keep you from doing what you know is right…

      • lawntreepro

        We post because it’s the law to post, not because the process is dangerous. The posting law came about because, again, some overzealous organic lawn nazis launched a campaign to suggest that lawns were dangerous. So, as a compromise, the government makes us post the lawns. Many public facilities must also now post that they contain chemical compounds that are known carcinogens. But does that mean the buildings cause cancer? Cancer has increased because diagnostic testing is better for cancer, not because people are actually getting sick more often.

        You folks will twist everything. It’s amazing. And it’s classic. When you don’t have a point to make, you’ll CAPITALIZE the letters in your poor sentences as if to make a weak point stronger.

        Woo hoo. 70 clients? We service 70 clients’ lawns with safe, effective, legal synthetic chemicals in two days. By converting 70 a year, you’ll make a dent in the chemical market in, say, the year 2525.

        And am I supposed to not enjoy the money I make? What am I supposed to do? Lose money? Which, come to think of it, is exactly what most the organic lawn care “professionals” that I know about are doing. Their products don’t work; their promises are shallow. And their clients fire them after a year or two of having an ugly lawn.

        I know what I’m doing is right. I’ve got 30 years of proof. But you, my organic friend, sound a little desperate. 70 clients last year? So what did you make? Maybe 20 grand? Sounds like you need a new job. I heard Fire Belly is hiring. Ha. Ha. Ha.

        • It’s Only Natural Landscaping

          File this under so funny & ignorant it needs no rebuttal:
          “We post because it’s the law to post, not because the process is dangerous.”

          Glad to see you @ least admitted it’s all about $$ though.

          Read carefully – we CONVERTED 70 (from those like you that will sell ANYTHING to make a few bucks.)

          Sleep well friend…and enjoy your SUCCESS.

  • Slappy

    I have to comment on this exchange between “It’s only…” and “lawn…”

    As a professional in the lawn care/tree care industry I am amazed at the redirection and misinformation from both sides, as well as the above article. Half of he products on their list are not being used in the business in the first place and the studies that were done were done many, many years ago in some cases and the products are banned from use!!
    The sign posting is to notify abutting residents that a lawn application was made, just like golf courses, parks and other public areas are required to do by the EPA. The application could have been fertilizer only, but still needs a posting. In addition, my state requires “organic” applications to have a posting as well, so it is not only on the “chemical” side of the industry. Cancer is not caused by pesticides only, they are a very small part of cancer causes(if the studies are correct). Many times it is hereditary, which has nothing to do with “chemicals.” In my two decades of working in this industry, I have reduced pesticide use by a very significant percentage. If it doesn’t need it, it will not be applied!! This has become a mandate of the industry over the years and will continue to be. FYI Tom worked for Barefootgrass, which has been gone for 15 years; a great deal has changed since then, all for the better.

    I am not try to support or negate either side, just try to get some of the facts clarified.

    • Paul Tukey

      You make some good points and your moderate tone is appreciated. But your remarks also reinforce many of the issues I talk about constantly. You say you have reduced pesticide use significantly. The mere fact that the industry is making reduction claims speaks to the issue that these things are dangerous — otherwise, why not use them everywhere, right?

      And you say, “if it doesn’t need it, it will not be applied.” What defines “need?” What the Canadians have stated is that, at least in the case of dandelions, plantain, clover etc., we never “need” pesticides on lawns where our children and pets play. I think that’s the only rational approach.

  • Slappy

    I appreciate your remarks. The idea of lawncare is to promote healthy weed free lawns where possible. Part of this is a thicker stand of turf. That helps define the need. If a property is a thick stand of turf, odds are the weed population is very small, if existent at all so the need to apply herbicide is reduced. The old idea of “blanket spraying” has basically disappeared from most companies. Proper mowing, watering, aeration, etc… will help reduce the “need” for herbicides in the first place. Cost is also a factor in this. Reduction of any pesticide is going reduce costs for a company and well as reduce what you are putting on a property. In the “old” days, we use to do blood testing because of some of the products in use, but now that has almost stopped due to better testing and registration from the EPA on long term affects. This centered on products such as Dursban and Diazinon, which are now banned. I am not saying these products are bad or good, but reduction, not deletion of pesticides has been a growing trend. I believe a lot of this centers around “perception” of the public, not necessarily “facts” of what they can do. As I had stated in a different thread, the industry is in better shape when qualified applicators are using these types of products versus the general public. In addition, educating the public in terms of proper lawn practices will continue to help reduction of pesticide use.

    I wish ALL lawncare companies had the same ideals as mine, but only time will tell.

    • It’s Only Natural Landscaping

      “The old idea of “blanket spraying” has basically disappeared from most companies.”

      Isn’t blanket spraying exactly what Chem-Lawn…er…I mean “TruGreen” does?!?

    • BostonShirley

      You say the “idea of lawncare is to promote healthy weed free lawns.” That’s EXACTLY the problem with the lawn care industry. Why weed free? I’ll tell you why. Because hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising creates a false expectation.

      I think a healthy lawn ought to have a few plants other than grass for reasons too many too count. You’re trying to sound like a reasonable guy in these posts, but, really, you’re just as much of the problem as anyone else if you think weed free is the holy grail.

  • Jimmy

    The statement that blanket spraying has disappeared is 100% false! Now that chemical lawn care prodution has gone from quality based to quantity based comes at the same time all the ride on spreaders came on the market. Instead of seeing the tech with the dripping yellow hose you see a spreader driving along secretly blanket spraying with two little nozzles spraying a highly concentrated dose of CANCER!!!!

  • FLNativeGirl

    WOW, I am just amazed at the number of people that want to spend their energy on dorogatory statements against people that are trying to inform people of the damaging effects of chemicals.
    Insted of being negative, why not change your business to work with the environment and increase you income for you business at the same time.
    Being a Florida Native, I have seen the devastating effects of Developers clear cutting the native plants and land only to install St Augustine sod that requires so many chemicals to live that out rivers are dying more and more with alge bloom caused from runoff of chemicals installed on the lawns. (Proven Facts)
    The problem starts with the smallest of the food chain and eventually works it way up to people.
    I use ONLY native plants in my yard, I work with an Organic Lawn Care company for the small amount of grass that I have in my yard and they also work with me on weed control in my plant beds, garden and bug control in my house. I can assure you that if it works for Florida bugs it will work anywhere else.
    It does work. I have had neighbors stop and ask what company I use for my yard. If you do not believe that these things cause cancer, do your research on the amount of people that live their lives 100 % organically and compare the number of them that have cancer to the number of the people who live the typical life using chemicals and you will find the answer.
    I hope you will at least look at a different perspective for once and that you will never have to deal with a family member, friend or even yourself having cancer as so many of us have.

  • Slappy

    Weed free is not the holy grail as you call, but weed free is what the majority of our customers try to obtain. I agree a few additional plants in a lawn are ok, but the general public who use lawncare, organic or not, expect no weeds. As far as Trugreen, they use liquid fertilizers, so yes I guess they are blanket spraying. As far as weed control I am not sure. And to Jimmy. You are false about your statement. Quantity over quality is still alive and well. My company uses 2 “ride-on” machines and for a fact they do not “blanket spray” properties unless it is loaded with weeds. Ride on equipment allows very large properties to be treated efficiently. My personal lawn uses the same products I use on a daily basis. But, I may apply one gallon of diluted herbicide over and entire season due to the fact I mow tall. I only apply fertilizer four times per year and my lawn looks great. My yard is living proof of what I try to accomplish with my customers. And yes Boston Shirley I have four types of turf in my lawn, along with a wide variety of landscape plants to enhance my property. I also plant insect resistant/repellent types of plants in my landscape to help reduce pesticide use. In addition, I have had my share of family with cancer as well as a few close friends. They DID NOT use lawn chemicals on a regular basis, so the cause is still up in the air(excuse me, one died of lung cancer due to smoking) There are many more threats to our health than lawncare pesticides, so don’t generalize the saying ”

    You will not change my mind to use these products, but I am educated in the science of them understand their effects and use my head when applying. Like I stated earlier, only allow a trained, certified professional to use these products. Most of the problems arise from the general public abusing them, not lawncare companies. But again, I cannot speak for everyone.

  • Jimmy

    Slappy, if all lawn care people were like you then we would most likely not be in these positions today. You sound responsible and run a reputable business. It is the LawnDawgs and the ChemLawns of the world that are going to self destruct the pesticide application business. It is the lies they tell and the wool they pull over their client’s eyes. They completely sell a customer what they want to hear and then switch to the cheapest thing they can do to hit their budgets

  • Slappy

    Thanks for your kind words. I do agree that there are companies out there that “pull the wool” over the consumers eyes and that can create obvious issues. There is a great difference between a customer what they want to hear versus what they need to hear. In my eyes, what they need to hear is the sound business approach. I just wish everyone got it.

  • FightForKids

    Slappy: “Many times it (cancer) is hereditary, which has nothing to do with “chemicals.” –

    Above statement is actually this is an over generalized statement and is not true. Cancer is hereditary to and extent but it has everything to do with environmental factors. Studies have show that between identical twins, the environmental factors actually made a huge difference in which DNA genes are expressed or turned on. Cancer can is most likely turned on or off by environmental factors.

  • http://n/a Gillian

    this is for lawntreepro if you have suffered like both me and my son have suffered from apesticide exposure then you will truely know what suffering means you idiot !!! pesticides are designed to kill and they dont discriminate

  • Steve Stout

    Synthetic lawn chemicals i.e. herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers endanger human and animal health and damage the environment. Scientific studies have found numerous negative health consequences associated with the synthetic chemicals found in traditional lawn care products. A report by the National Academy of Sciences shows that the health of 1 in 7 people is negatively impacted in some form by lawn pesticides; numerous studies link lawn chemicals to cancers and other long-term diseases; several studies also link exposure to artificial lawn chemicals to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems in pets. Children are especially at risk for negative health consequences due to their size, physiological development and proximity to the ground. Studies from Yale University, Mt. Sinai Medical Center and several others point to children’s health risks associated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
    There is no safe chemical fertilizer, weed killer, or pesticide. Chemical fertilizers poison the environment with their salt base that causes imbalance in the pH of the soil. They cause a toxic buildup of nitrates, contaminating drinking water, rivers, streams, and lakes. They also destroy the good microorganisms in the soil. Synthetic pesticides also poison the environment, some more than others. Some release compounds that become increasingly toxic as they break down in the environment. Some have an accumulative effect and are harmful far beyond the area they were originally applied. Some are longer lasting than others, and some don’t break down for a long time, remaining in the soil or water indefinitely.
    The toxic substances found in the tested fertilizers have been linked to adverse human health impacts. The metals found in these fertilizers are known or suspected carcinogens, reproductive and developmental, liver, and blood toxicants. For example, beryllium is a suspected carcinogen, chromium and arsenic are known to cause cancer and barium can cause kidney and lung damage.

    California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Charitable Trust and Washington’s Safe Food and Fertilizer tested 29 fertilizers from 12 states for 22 toxic metals in dangerous quantities (Aluminum (Al), Antimony (Sb), Arsenic (As), Barium (Ba), Beryllium (Be), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), Cobalt (Co), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Lead (Pb), Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Nickel (Ni), Selenium (Se), Silver (Ag), Thallium (Tl), Thallium (Tl), Uranium (U), and Zinc (Zn). This report documents the results of these fertilizer samples, demonstrates that the problem of toxic fertilizers is widespread, and details concerns with proposed regulations for the practice. Add to this list the thousands of hazardous compounds and then think about yourself, your spouse, your children and your pets.
    Labeling is inadequate. Because fertilizer labeling laws only require beneficial nutrients, like zinc or phosphate, to be listed, fertilizers are sold directly to the public and farmers without warnings or information that informs consumers about the presence and quantity of toxic metals. Also, there is no indication on fertilizer labels as to whether or not the fertilizers we tested have been further treated to meet federal land disposal standards.
    Each of these metals is suspected or known to be toxic to humans and the environment by the U.S. EPA. Nine metals, like arsenic and lead, are known or suspected to cause cancer and ten metals, like mercury, are linked to developmental effects. Three of the tested metals – lead, cadmium and mercury – are also persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). PBTs persist for long periods of time in the environment – some indefinitely – and they can accumulate in the tissues of humans and wildlife, increasing the long-term health risks at even low levels of exposure. These three metals cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive problems.
    Existing standards for toxic metals in fertilizers are inadequate for protecting our soils, crops, plants, water, air and health. All commercial fertilizers made from recycled materials, such as hazardous wastes, and produced for the general public’s use are subject to the federal Land Disposal Restrictions. The U.S. EPA’s federal Land Disposal Restrictions, which are applied to zinc fertilizers that contain toxic waste, are intended to ensure that toxic substances are properly treated before the waste is disposed of in heavily regulated, lined landfills. Land Disposal Restriction standards are technology-based standards, which mean that they are designed to predict the ability of a hazardous waste to leach from these landfills.
    Unfortunately, the recycling of hazardous wastes into fertilizer products does not always include the process of treatment or cleaning of hazardous waste, but rather dilution of the waste. Dilution involves adding substances to a waste to reduce the concentration of toxic substances that are present in the waste. Dilution does not reduce the toxicity of the hazardous constituents.
    When chemicals are applied, there is no way to prevent migration from the application site, whether that be down stream, down wind, or leeching into ground water. The harmful impact to birds, wildlife, and aquatic life is becoming more apparent each year with each new study that’s published.

  • Cutting Edge

    Shouldn’t it be “….toxins”

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