|COSMETIC USE OF PESTICIDES
With increasing research implicating the use of pesticides and
herbicides in a variety of human (and veterinary) diseases, many
communities throughout Canada are passing by-laws restricting their use
and educating citizens regarding the potential hazards of these
Presently, there are 72 municipalities in Canada that have
implemented by-laws restrictions or have banned outright the cosmetic
use of pesticides. These include West Vancouver, Port Moody and Gibsons
in BC, and Toronto, Halifax, Montreal, and all of the province of
Quebec. Also, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Cumberland and New
Westminster all have by-laws drafted but not yet fully in force.
Environment Canada Definition:
A pesticide is a substance intended to repel, kill, or control
any species designated a "pest", including weeds, insects, rodents,
bacteria, or other organisms. The family of pesticides includes
herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, and bactericides.
A pest is defined as an insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed
or other form of terrestrial or aquatic plant or animal life that is
injurious to health or the environment.
Environmental Protection Agency (USA)
A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended
for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pests
can be insects, mice and other animals, unwanted plants (weeds), fungi,
or micro-organisms like bacteria and viruses. Though often
to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also
applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to
control pests. Under United States law, a pesticide is also any
substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant
regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.
. . . . . .
By their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of
harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed
to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms, often by
damaging their nervous systems.
Pesticides can accumulate in the food chain and/or contaminate the
environment if misused.
Many common household products are pesticides, such as:
· Cockroach sprays and baits
· Insect repellents for personal use
· Rat and other rodent poisons
· Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars
· Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers
· Products that kill mould and mildew
· Some lawn and garden products, such as weed killers
· Some swimming pool chemicals
Pests can develop resistance to chemical pesticides while their natural
predators get wiped out. It is questionable whether pesticide
application reduces the incidence of human disease because the insects
build up resistance to pesticides and then rebound.
Certain herbicides have been shown to be directly toxic to
birds (eg. 2,4-D). Agent Orange is an herbicide. Herbicides have been
proven to cause cancer, birth defects, endocrine disruption, other
chronic effects. Sixty percent of the total pesticide use in the U.S.
is used to kill "pest" weeds – more than is used to grow food.
Herbicide applications pollute our waterways, marshes, valuable
drinking water resources, and the air we breathe.
Biologically-based pesticides, such as pheromones and microbial
pesticides, are becoming increasingly popular and often are safer than
traditional chemical pesticides.
. . . . . .
The following information is collected from a variety of sources,
HIDDEN CHEMICALS & OUR HEALTH
We live with the dangerous illusion that chemical
ingredients in our everyday consumer products have been tested for
health effects, by Health Canada or by the U.S. EPA.
The claim is that pesticides are relatively low-risk, and people think
these pesticides are harmless when actually they kill many insects and
animals, and can seriously affect humans because they decrease the
enzyme that is essential for normal nervous system functioning.
Common pesticides used in homes and lawns are now being shown in
medical research to accelerate aging of the immune and nervous system,
resulting in serious health problems years after exposure. Research has
linked varying degrees of human exposure to chemical pesticides with an
increase in miscarriage, birth defects, infertility, Parkinson’s
disease, and some types of cancer. Pesticide exposure may play a role
in the development of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), multiple sclerosis
(MS), and multiple chemical sensitivity as well.
Children are at an added risk because they are lower to the ground,
tend to put things in their mouth, their body mass is smaller than
adults, and they are still developing.
Studies have found higher rates of cancer in children and
dogs living in households that use pesticides in the home and garden.
A human DNA molecule contains over 30,000 genes. Over 4,000 genes
remain active at this moment, controlling all aspects of health from
the brain to the immune system. When these genes are weakened or
damaged by chemical exposures, health problems surface.
Over 20% of pesticides currently registered in the U.S. are linked to
cancer, birth defects, developmental harm or nerve damage. Over half of
the food on our grocery shelves contains genetically engineered
ingredients that have not been adequately tested for impacts on human
These chemicals tend to accumulate in fatty tissue, and one
recent study found that they have shown up in the breast milk of women
who live in the Arctic. These chemicals also appear in virtually all
food products in a typical American diet.
Since pesticides cause primarily CNS (central nervous system: the brain
and spinal cord) and other neurological symptoms, it is not surprising
that pesticides are one of the main causes or contributors to the
emergence of chemical sensitivity. They are the perpetrators of the
perfect crime, as they are ubiquitous and generally odourless. They can
cause insidious or delayed, yet progressive symptoms even weeks after
an exposure, once the threshold for an individual’s tolerance is
finally exceeded (Gershon 1961). If the pesticides’ innate toxicity
(having been specifically designed as metabolic interrupters and
neurotoxins, initially for chemical warfare) were not enough, many of
the secondary metabolites (breakdown products) are even more toxic than
the parent compounds.
Most pesticides are mixtures of active and ‘inert’ ingredients, and
some compounds used as inert ingredients are
recognized as endocrine disrupters. The pesticide labelling law
unfortunately does not require manufacturers to list inert ingredients,
and ‘trade secrets’ allow them to avoid disclosure to customers, so you
cannot tell by reading a product label whether a pesticide contains an
People exposed to chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides, were
found to suffer twice the risk of
what’s known as Lou Gehrig’s disease than those who never encounter
these chemicals (American Journal of Epidemiology). This disease is
called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that destroys the
nerves that control muscles – there is no known cure.
Investigators found disturbing facts from two studies of indoor air
contaminants conducted during the late 1980s in Jacksonville FL and
Springfield MA. In those places, indoor air contained at least five
(but typically 10 or more) times higher concentrations of pesticides
than outside air – and those residues included insecticides approved
only for outdoor use.
Such poisons can be tracked in on people’s shoes, or may seep through
the soil as a gas into homes. In addition, people sometimes apply
inappropriate pesticides directly to indoor surfaces, unaware that they
are causing their own high exposures. And even the most enlightened
homeowners are often unaware of past applications of dangerous
chemicals. Pesticides that break down within days outdoors may last for
years in carpets, where they are protected from degradation caused by
sunlight and bacteria.
THE POLITICS OF ‘SAFE’
The chemical pesticide industry is part of a larger, multi-billion
dollar global pharmaceutical industry with massive vested interests in
the continued use of pesticide products, and virtually unlimited funds
to silence potential critics and to influence public opinion and
In Canada, chemical companies submit their own research, along with a
fee, for evaluation by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health
Canada. Safety regulations for pesticide application, such as permits,
posting, notification, transportation and disposal, varies between
In the U.S., chemical companies do their own testing and
submit the results to the EPA for review. Agricultural and consumer use
pesticides are not currently required to be tested for subtle
neurological effects (e.g. memory, depression, behaviour) – child
learning disorders – pregnancy developmental studies and immune system
effects (e.g. lower white blood counts – increased infection rates and
Many North Americans ingest carcinogens in their drinking water. Every
growing season, a portion of the millions of pounds of pesticides
applied to crops wash off into waterways or seep deep into soil and end
up in drinking water. A 1990 Environmental Protection Agency survey
found that 10.4% of community water system wells and 4.2% of rural
domestic wells contain one or more pesticides. Pesticides are generally
not removed by the standard water treatment technologies used by most
The burden of proof should be shifted to the chemical
manufacturers; the current system assumes that chemicals are innocent
until proven guilty. This is ethically wrong - the burden of proof
should work the other way. This presumption of innocence has time and
again made people sick and damaged ecosystems.
CHEMICALS ARE BIG BUSINESS
The worldwide pesticide market continues to grow at a staggering rate.
It's estimated that global sales of pesticides have increased to $31.25
billion (U.S.) in 1996 from $2.7 billion in 1970. On a per acre
comparison, the use of pesticides in urban areas is many times greater
than in agricultural areas. This dramatic increase is due in part to a
spiralling chemical dependency that began as a business opportunity.
The so-called 'perfect lawn' is a fabrication of the industry that aims
to provide it. Pesticide companies have seen a marketing opportunity
and seized it. There is nothing either sinister or illegal about their
actions. But once a cycle of chemical dependency has been established,
our lawns require an increasing quantity of chemicals just to survive.
In the process, we are also destroying our lawn's natural ability to
protect it self against so-called pests. The more chemicals we use, the
more resistant the pests become. The World Watch Institute reports that
in 1938, just 7 known insects and mite species were resistant to
pesticides. By 1984, there were 447 resistant species, including many
major agricultural pests.
In California, the leading agricultural state in the U.S., and a major
food exporter to Canada, use of cancer-causing pesticides increased
121% between 1991 and 1999. We face a powerful, politically influential
pesticide industry with a single goal – to expand its
multi-billion-dollar business. For example, in 2000, Monsanto sold more
than $2.6 billion worth of Roundup around the world. The entire planet
is being used as the corporations’ laboratory.
OUR GREEN LAWN OBSESSION
The casual use of pesticides around homes and gardens for frivolous,
cosmetic purposes is risky and irresponsible. In the U.S. and Canada,
greater quantities of pesticides are applied per acre in the suburbs
than on agricultural land, much of it to support the modern obsession
with green, ‘weed’-free lawns. Golf course managers are reported to use
four times more pesticide per acre than farmers do on food crops.
American lawn care services sometimes tell their customers that the
pesticides used are “EPA approved.” The Environmental Protection Agency
has never screened most of the pesticides now on the market for
hormone-disrupting activity, and the U.S. EPA registration is no
measure of safety. In fact, chemical agencies register with the EPA
precisely because a product is potentially harmful, and labelling
reduces the legal liability of the manufacturer in lawsuits brought on
by people who have been harmed by using the pesticide.
For ‘do-it-yourselfer’ householders, it is possible to go organic with
a little work and some basic information. [See the Alternative Links]
Make your own lawn pesticide-free and encourage your neighbours to do
so. If they persist in their use of pesticides, insist that they post
signs on their lawns at the time of treatment to inform the
neighbourhood and to keep children and pets away.
Dandelions don't cause cancer! Pesticides should only be used in
. . . . . .
Self-Healing Newsletter, Andrew Weil, M.D., July 2001.
www.chem-tox.com with material compiled by Wayne Sinclair, M.D.,
Allergy, Asthma & Immunology – 2002.
Know your enemy before fighting back with pesticides, Marlene Condon,
The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VA, April 24, 2001.
Pesticide Action Network – PANNA, 2002.
Screening for Nervous System Damage From Chemical Exposure, Cindy
Duehring, Environmental Access Research Network.
Stolen Future, Colborn, Dumanoski and Myers, 1997.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, What It Is, What It Is Not, And How It
Is Manifested, presented at the concurrent session of the 1995
conference of the Association on Higher Education and Disability.
Presented by Neuropsychologist Sheila Bastien, Ph.D.
Cancer and the Environment, psrus.org – Physicians for Social
Responsibility, April 2002.
www.sciam.com – 1998.
Lou Gehrig’s Disease Linked to Pesticides and Fertilizer, Nutrition
News, Energy Times, September 1997.
www.worldwise.com/weeds.html – Herbicides, 2005, Debra Lynn Dadd.
Combining Pesticides with Fertilizers is
Unnecessary and Harmful – BC Medical Association
Citizen Action Against Pesticide Use in the West
Kootenay – Kootenay Cuts
Pesticide Reduction – Sierra Club of Canada
Pesticide-Free Naturally Campaign – Green
Lawn Care: Pesticide Hazards and Alternatives
– Beyond Pesticides
Cosmetic Pesticides – The Canadian Lung
Campaign to Ban Pesticides Grows in Canada
– Safe2Use, U.S.
Info Regarding U.S. EPA and Department of Pesticide
Regulation – Safe2Use, U.S.
Pesticides – Wild About Gardening
Natural Lawn Care Step-by-Step – City Farmer
Pesticide Alternatives – CBC News