Now that gardening season is approaching, I would like to urge all Port Washington families to think carefully about the chemicals they put on their lawns.

Spring is in the air and with it the smell of pesticides. Yes, there are times when problems with pests warrant the use of pesticides, but sporting a couple of friendly weeds on your front lawn should not be one of those times.

Philip Landrigan, MD, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine states: "Every day of every week we are continuing in this country to expose children to chemicals whose toxicity is simply not known. As a pediatrician, I urge parents to think carefully about the choices they make, especially about pesticides. (http://grassrootsinfo.org)

In Canada, over 140 municipalities and the entire province of Quebec agree that pesticide use just for killing weeds is excessive and have now placed restrictions on the cosmetic use of synthetic lawn pesticides as a result of health and environmental concerns. (http://www.flora.org/healthyottawa/BylawList.pdf) Wouldn't it be great if the TONH could pass a law like this?

Let's look at the facts:

1. In the U.S. it is a violation of federal law to state that the use of pesticides is safe, because pesticides are toxic by definition. (http://www.cwac.net/pesticides/index.html)

2. "Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we're beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of this century and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin." -- Dick Irwin, toxicologist at Texas A&M Universities (http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/environment/RATE/pestfact.html)

3. Children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticides exposure because of their immature and rapidly developing bodies. A wide range of studies indicate consistent links between exposure to pesticides and serious illnesses, such as cancer and neurological diseases. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9646054)

4. Only 5 percent (or less) of herbicides reach target weeds. The rest runs off and ends up in our drinking water or dissipates in the air and drifts on your children's bikes, on your lawn furniture and swing set and on your neighbor's lawn. (http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/environment/RATE/pestfact.html)

5. Pesticides can be absorbed through the skin, swallowed or inhaled (most toxic). People and pets track pesticide residue into the house. (http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/environment/RATE/pestfact.html)

6. More than 500 insect pests, 270 weed species and 150 plant diseases are now resistant to one or more pesticides. (http://www.consumersunion.org/food/pest-fact.htm)

Aren't these facts enough?

And you can have a beautiful lawn without the use of pesticides/ herbicides. There are plenty of organic and safe lawn care solutions. Even landscapers are starting to realize that using the non-toxic alternatives is not only better for our children, the earth, our pets and us, but also healthier for them. You can find a list of "green" landscapers at http://www.ghlp.org/find_land.html. There are also plenty of tips on the Internet about how to maintain a safe and healthy lawn yourself (http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/grasstips.html).

Juliane Saary-Littman

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