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School Pesticide Debate Heats Up in the Denver Summer

Until dry? . . .

Until dry? . . .

or 24 hours? . . .

or 24 hours? . . .

or 72 hours? The same product, 2,4-D, was applied in each case, yet the laws across the United States are terribly ambiguous.

or 72 hours? The same product, 2,4-D, was applied in each case, yet the laws across the United States are terribly ambiguous.

The same debate we’ve seen unfold in at least a half dozen other states in the past two years is grabbing headlines in Colorado. On one side a group of concerned parents thinks lawn pesticides are dangerous; on the other, a group of lawn care professionals who claim the products are safe when used as directed.

“Those chemicals aren’t toxic unless you use them inappropriately . . .” was a well-worn statement from a woman representing the lawn chemical industry. She was quoted in this article in a Denver newspaper: http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2011/06/27/20750-parents-urge-dps-to-end-herbicide-use.

That statement in itself is blatantly false. The products — which always say KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN on the bag — are ALWAYS toxic. That’s why the warning labels are in place.

The real issue is reasonable risk. In other words, are the children at the school at risk after Trugreen applies the products, even if the wind conditions are low and the company is doing everything the law says it must?

In Canada, as we celebrated yesterday, that answer is no. School spraying should be off-limits everywhere in the U.S., too, just as it is in New York and Connecticut. The products are dangerous everywhere; the laws should be the same from Maine to California.

Just yesterday I noticed a neighbor’s lawn had been sprayed with 2,4-D here in Rhode Island and the posted sign warned to stay off the grass for 72 hours. Yet in some states, after spraying 2,4-D, the only requirement is to stay off the grass until the product dries, which can be a matter of minutes on a warm, breezy day.

So which is it? Safe after 72 hours, or safe after a few minutes?

These are our children we’re talking about. We really shouldn’t be guessing.

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 : 1024
  • Manuela

    These three photos juxtaposed are an awesome testament to how ridiculous the U.S. pesticide policy is. I mean . . . really? In some states it’s OK to walk across 2,4-D as soon as it’s “dry” on the plant and in other states its 72 hours? Doesn’t anyone else see how ridiculous this is?
    Manuela

  • http://www.change.org Megan Cottrell

    Thanks so much for covering the situation in Denver! If you’d like to help DPS parents eliminate these toxic chemicals from school property, please sign the parents’ petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/help-stop-the-use-of-pesticides-with-harmful-chemicals-at-denver-public-schools

  • http://www.pesticideboulder.org Kathleen Christensen

    The half-life of 2,4-D in the soil, while it varies with temperature and soil type and moisture, is far longer than 72 hours. Kudos to these parents for doing more than they should have to do to protect the health of their children!

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