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Would you Expose your Family to Neurotoxins for a Greener Lawn?

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The EPA is being sued for failing to respond to a 2008 petition to ban 2,4-D from lawn care products…

By Posted Feb 29, 2012

Lawn chemicals Every year over 4.6 million pounds of the toxic herbicide 2,4-D are applied to lawns, playgrounds and golf courses in the U.S. Commonly found in ‘weed n’ feed’ products, 2,4-D is an ingredient in Agent Orange which was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam war. And while the EPA has been made aware of the health threats associated with 2,4-D, the agency has been slow to take measures to remove this hazardous ingredient from lawn care products.

Today, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the EPA to ban the use of 2,4-D from ‘weed n’ feed’ lawn care products. Specifically, the suit claims the EPA has failed to respond to a 2008 petition to cancel all registrations and revoke all tolerances of the known neurotoxin and ingredient in Agent Orange.

According to the NRDC, research by the EPA found that babies born in counties with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields were significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates.

…birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates…

Dow AgroSciences argues that using 2,4-D is essential since farmers reliant on chemical fertilizers and weed controls are unable to supress weeds which have become resistant to glyphosphate, a less toxic herbicide ingredient used in Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup. Toxic 2,4-D is expected to be used in even greater quantities in the future due to this resistance.

In other words, genetically engineered crops have led to the emergence of ‘super weeds’ which require more toxic chemicals to suppress. While the production of food crops such as corn has been improved through genetic modification, the health implications of applying more toxic herbicides have been dismissed, overlooked or ignored.

The USDA has assured the public that 2,4-D is safe, but scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Of those same pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.

…the wheels of justice will grind slowly and are likely to be challenged by industry during the process…

While the NRDC lawsuit may eventually lead to a ban on the use of 2,4-D in ‘weed n’ feed’ products, the wheels of justice will grind slowly and are likely to be challenged by industry during the process. In the meantime, homeowners can take advantage of recent developments in lawn care products which do not rely on chemical inputs. For example, corn gluten is a natural, non-toxic pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer now available to home owners.

Residue from lawn care chemicals can persist for longer than a month after application, and can be tracked into your home if you, your children or your pets have recently walked on a treated lawn. If you are looking to learn more about lawn care chemicals and ways to reduce your exposure to them, read Lawn Care Chemicals: How toxic are they?

To learn more about ways to maintain a healthy lawn by using non-toxic lawn care products, read our guide to Natural Lawn Care.

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  • I think this is the problem with the world today.  Too many people are risking poisons, chemicals and other toxins being used just to achieve mudane and unimportant results and minor improvements in life.

  • Yes of course I would subject my family to neurotoxins for the sake of a greener lawn!

    What? Yeah, sure, my children are now brain damaged and my wife is coming down with mesothelioma, but you won’t find greener grass in the neighborhood!

  • Robert Rowshan

    why not a rock garden? or a regular garden with flowers? what is it with the penchant for grass? did you know it is actually just a weed? so we pick out a weed among other weeds to cultivate, it is crasy!

  • Too much risk to have a green lawn. And not just the risk in the imediate area, but the chemicals can get into the water supply and spread further.

  • Matt Miles

    I know in my industry the pesticides leak into the water table. Once they reach the rivers and streams they are diluted but the more people use the more it effects the environment. From this awareness it creates new laws and safer chemicals so hopefully fertilizers will just become safer.

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