SNOOPY only lands on Toxic-Free Lawns!
Make sure YOUR yard is Chemical Pesticide-Free -
for the safety of yourself, your children and your pets!
Where lawns are concerned, parents and pet owners have common interests. Both groups want to protect the precious lives in their care and provide safe places for play.
No one should have to worry about possible adverse effects of toxic chemicals on grass used for exercise and fun. Yet very young children and pets can be particularly at risk from encounters with certain lawn care pesticides.
Both groups lack the knowledge to avoid turf that has been sprayed or to understand posted warning signs. In some instances very young children and pets lack the biological mechanisms to effectively break down these synthetic chemicals after they enter the body.
Children are at greater risk of pesticide exposure than adults because pound for pound of body weight, children not only eat more and breathe more, but they also have a more rapid metabolism than adults and they play on the lawn more often, where pesticides are commonly applied.
In April 2004, Canada's Ontario College of Family Physicians warned about the use of pesticides by homeowners.
Due to the associations they had found between exposure to pesticides and the occurrence of fetal defects, neurological damage and cancer, the doctors urged avoidance of these chemicals in any form.
Although these physicians were focused on protecting humans, pets can benefit as well when chemical pesticides no longer contaminate their environment.
Organic Lawn Care
Increasingly, people who care about health are turning to organic lawn management, and are urging their communities to do likewise.
Chip Osborne, who helped create the Organic Pest Management Policy for Turf and Landscape in Marblehead, MA, stated: "No one would willingly harm…pets…by the use of pesticide products, but the fact remains they are dangerous to both our pets and ourselves."
After losing to cancer both canine companions with whom he had shared his then non-organic workspace, Osborne researched the hazards of chemical pesticides. He then shifted his horticulture business to organic only.
As Marblehead and other localities have found, lawns under organic management can be not only perfectly beautiful, but also perfectly safe for people and pets.
Use of a herbicide made from corn gluten can control crabgrass and other weeds. Seeding with a mixture of grass types will help keep a lawn healthy under various climatic conditions.
Adjusting the lawn mower's cutting height to 3 inches can help shade out weeds. The goal should be a dense lawn mowed high.
Removing individual plants by hand using a special tool can help eliminate dandelions. Nematodes that prey on the immature insects can be used against beetle grubs in the lawn.
What makes some chemically treated lawns
especially dangerous for pets?
Snoopy and his fellow dogs, like miners' canaries, are sensitive to some pest control products commonly used around the home and yard.
When it comes to risks posed by certain lawn care chemicals, dogs exhibit a degree of vulnerability that even responsible, caring owners may not realize. A few examples follow.
Dogs have developed anorexia, loose stools, vomiting, ataxia and incoordination, hypersalivation, and tremors after exposure to phenoxy herbicide-treated lawns.
The Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received approximately 100 calls during the late 1980s on adverse effects in dogs associated with the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D (Beasley, V.R. & H. Trammel).
In addition to the signs noted above, muscle weakness and myotonia (muscle stiffness of the hind legs) have also been noted in 2,4-D poisoned dogs (Osweiler, G.D. et al).
But the majority of such poisoning events are not reported to the APCC. Rachel Carson Council continues to receive reports of ill effects in dogs after exposure to various lawn pesticides.
In humans, symptoms of 2,4-D poisoning can be coughing, burning, dizziness, temporary loss of muscle coordination, fatigue, and weakness with or without nausea (Kamrin, M.A.), as well as vomiting, and severe, or migraine headache (personal communication, Haugen, C.).
Two canine cancers have been associated with chemical herbicides: cancer of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers (Glickman, L.T., et al) and canine malignant lymphoma in various breeds (Hayes, H., et al).
In people 2,4-D has been associated with non-Hodgkins lymphoma (Zahm, SH & A. Blair).
Laboratory rodents were found to have higher rates of brain cancer after exposure to high levels of 2,4-D (Aug. 31, 2000, EPA OPP Memo).
A young female labrador, apparently in good health was allowed access to the family's yard shortly after it had been sprayed with a mixture containing several phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-D, dicamba and MCPP. As the weather was hot, she rolled in the treated grass, was soaking wet and was observed to be licking her coat upon returning indoors.
Several days later, she began vomiting and refused to eat or drink. Her condition deteriorated, and she was diagnosed with kidney failure two weeks after her initial exposure to the herbicide-treated turf.
Residues of phenoxy chemicals were found in kidney tissue removed at necropsy after she died. Veterinary pathologists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) concluded that the dog's acute renal failure could have been associated with the phenoxy herbicide exposure (personal communication).
It must be acknowledged that allowing pets access to grass freshly treated with pesticides is contrary to most lawn company instructions. However, it appears in this case, that the margin of safety when directions are not followed could be so very slim as to produce fatal results.
Pet owners should be warned of the serious nature of possible adverse effects on dogs when phenoxy and other chemicals are used on their lawns and gardens.
For thousands of years, the company of dogs has alleviated our isolation, loneliness and physical hardship. Now we see that through their suffering, they serve as monitors of chemical contaminants in our immediate environment, "However, one could ask, 'Who is listening?'" (Beasley, V.R.).
Regulatory officials and manufacturers need to take into account the observations from pet owners on illness associated with chemicals. They should provide suitable warnings on pesticide product labels.
Pet owners for their part can help by becoming more aware of the toxic nature of various pesticides and learning of the availability of low risk methods and better products that serve as alternatives to such chemicals.
Knowledgeable owners can seek out health care professionals and others familiar with pesticide problems and alternative pest control methods. Rachel Carson Council can provide resources for both groups.
V.R. Beasley, in Introduction, "Toxicology of Selected Pesticides, Drugs and Chemicals," March 1990, VCNA
Beasley, V.R. & H. Trammel, "Incidence of Poisonings in Small Animals" in Current Veterinary Therapy X: Small Animal Practice, ed. Kirk Saunders, 1989
Glickman, L.T., et al, "Herbicide exposure and the risk of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder in Scottish terriers", Journal of the American Veterninary Medical Association: 224(8), April 15, 2004
Hayes, H., et al. "Case-control study of canine malignant lymphoma: positive association with dog owner's use of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid herbicides." Journal of the National Cancer Institute: 83, 1991
Kamrin, M.A. Pesticide Profiles: Toxicity, Environmental Impact, and Fate, CRC/Lewis Publishers, 1997
Osweiler, G.D. et al. Clinical and Diagnostic Veterinary Toxicology, 3rd ed., Kendall Hunt, Iowa, 1985
Zahm, SH & A. Blair, "Carcinogenic Risks from Pesticides," Accomplishments in Cancer Research 1992 Prize Year, General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, NY, Lippincott, 1993