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PANUPS Alert: Tell Home Depot You Want Pesticide-Free Lawn Products
Help convince Home Depot to start selling a full range of natural, non-toxic lawn and garden products by emailing the attached letter or dropping it off at the customer service desk of a Home Depot near you. You can also write your own letter and address it to the store manager — just be sure to tell us when and where you drop it off.
PANNA has joined with The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns to encourage Home Depot, one of the largest U.S. home and garden retailers, to stock organic and natural lawn care products. Consumer surveys show that more than half of U.S. households (about 40 million) are buying or seeking to buy non-toxic, natural alternatives to lawn pesticides. Yet toxic lawn products remain most prominent on retailers’ shelves. Together we are urging the retail giant to carry a full range of organic, non-toxic lawn care products; train Home Depot staff in natural lawn care; provide do-it-yourself materials; and reconsider the sale of “weed and feed” lawn products that threaten human and environmental health.
The use of toxic lawn pesticides is both harmful and unnecessary. Evidence is increasing that pesticides are associated with serious health problems including several kinds of cancer, asthma, and developmental effects. Based on their review of health studies, the Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns finds that 19 of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 are associated with reproductive effects, 26 cause liver or kidney damage, 15 are neurotoxic, and 11 disrupt the hormone systems of humans and other living creatures. Recent peer-reviewed studies also show increased rates of miscarriage and childhood asthma as well as immune system suppression from exposure to lawn chemicals.
Lawn pesticides poison pets and birds, and contaminate drinking water and wildlife habitat as well. Toxic runoff from chemical fertilizers and “weed and feed” products is a significant source of pollution in urban streams, lakes and drinking water sources, for example.
Children are particularly vulnerable to lawn pesticides because they take in more chemicals relative to their body weight than adults, and their ability to detoxify toxic chemicals is not yet fully developed. Children’s play and common child behaviors such as rolling on the ground and putting fingers and other items in their mouths also increase exposure to chemicals in the environment. Pesticides used on residential and commercial lawns are tracked indoors and have been found to persist for years within homes, where they degrade more slowly without exposure to sunlight or rain.
Every year U.S. homeowners apply at least 90 million pounds of pesticides to their lawns and gardens, and use rose 42% in a recent three-year period. Pesticides are also applied more intensively for lawn care, with application rates between 3.2 to 9.8 pounds per acre for lawns, as opposed to agricultural averages of 2.7 pounds per acre.
It is entirely possible — and should be commonplace — to maintain green and healthy lawns and yards without using toxic pesticides. One recent survey reported that when informed about the risks posed by lawn chemicals, nearly 70% of homeowners indicate a preference for non-toxic alternatives. The rapidly growing organic landscaping service industry provides further evidence of such choices. Still, Home Depot and too many other retailers are not responding to the growing consumer movement away from needlessly toxic insect and weed control, nor are they offering the kind of information and products consumers need to switch to safer and healthier lawn care. Meanwhile the chemical industry’s main response to consumer concerns is a major new public relations campaign attacking public interest groups for “misleading” the public about the hazards of pesticides, and continued lobbying to prevent restrictions on pesticide use.
You can help protect your family, friends and neighbors from dangerous chemicals:
Get more background on the Declaration. The Coalition website also offers fact sheets on steps to take for pesticide-free lawn care, a database of pest control providers who disclose the non-toxic materials they use, and information on programs in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York that certify landscapers in organic land care and train nursery employees in pesticide-free practices.
Sources: National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns materials: Backgrounder to the Declaration on the Use of Toxic Lawn Pesticides, Five Reasons Not to Use Weed and Feed, Lawns We Can Live With, http://www.pesticidefreelawns.org; PANUPS, Refuse to Use Lawn Chemicals, April 15, 2005; Shettler, et al, In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threat to Child Development, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, http://psr.igc.org/ihw-project.htm Contact: PANNA, Beyond Pesticides, (firstname.lastname@example.org) (202) 543-5450
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.
You can join our efforts! We gladly accept donations for our work and all contributions are tax deductible in the United States. Visit http://www.panna.org/donate.