America is covered in green lawns and kids enjoying the outdoors, somersaulting in the sun. But soon, springtime dandelions will begin creeping in to destroy that green lawn. Never fear! Pesticides are here! But wait. What dangers lurk behind the typical green suburban lawn? Are the carcinogenic chemicals worth a kelly green lawn? Why do Americans insist on lawn perfection?
Unfortunately, the concept of the green lawn is widely admired and expected; few families consider just how that picture-perfect green lawn is achieved. In fact, the lawn company TruGreen sprays over 2.3 million lawns each year. So what are these chemicals doing to families? Fortunately, there is time to make a change before too many more families experience the profound impacts of lawn pesticides.
How Pesticides Impact Families
Since a green lawn is expected (and sometimes required) in neighborhoods, few folks stop to think about these lawn chemicals’ impact on families. From long-term issues with reproduction and the welfare of the family pet, the consequences are alarming.
Take TruGreen as an example. More than half of the chemicals they use are carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and twenty-eight percent of them have the potential to cause reproduction issues for both men and women. These chemicals could impact both men and women because they mess with one’s endocrine system and impact sperm count.
Chemical Side Effects
These chemicals cause short-term and long-term side effects. The short-term impacts include coughing, a burning sensation, dizziness, headaches, stomach aches, vomiting, and rashes on the skin. Since children tend to be lower to the ground, rolling in the grass, and even putting things in their mouths, these side effects more frequently impact them.
Some terrifying diseases have been linked to the use of lawn pesticides. Some of these include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, neurological, and learning disorders in children. Additionally, these pesticides may also impact one’s immune system. Especially now, people need their immune systems to be working top-notch to help fight disease.
Animals do not get to choose what goes on the grass they walk on. When families spray their lawns, they expose the family dog directly to anything applied to the yard. Those chemicals then get absorbed by beloved Fido and can begin terrorizing his body just as they can do to humans. Since not all families wipe their dog’s paws after venturing outside, the family dog then tracks those chemicals inside and throughout the house.
Not only that, but the squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and rabbits have zero knowledge of what has happened to the lawn. They will continue to utilize that space as they always have, with or without chemicals. Homeowners should feel a sense of responsibility for anyone that may scamper or walk across their lawn.
What can be done?
Given so many negative impacts, one may feel hopeless in the face of pesticides and the perfect green lawn. What can be done to keep families and animals safe? Fortunately, there are many things families can do that can make a significant impact.
First, and possibly most importantly, you must educate yourself. If you are not a scientist, you must read the studies that have been done. And most importantly, note who is paying for those studies? Could they have a bias to them? What is the motive behind creating a study? Frequently, even data can tell many different stories.
Next, use common sense. Consider this: someone needs to get cancer before something can be verified as cancer-causing. Don’t let that person be someone in your family. If something feels unsafe, go with your gut. If a company uses small signs to alert people that the grass they just sprayed chemicals on is now dangerous, then the chemicals used on the grass are hazardous. If the person administering the spray treatment needs to wear a mask to protect them from what they are spraying, the chemicals are dangerous.
Find out what your neighborhood and city use on their grass. For example, what pesticides are they spraying and when? If you do not feel comfortable writing these emails yourself, you can use templates to reach out and find this information. For example, the Buffalo Parks Department does not spray their grass with harmful chemicals.
Another important thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings. Look out for the little signs companies put in yards after spraying and take an alternative route. Then, upon returning home, remove your shoes and wipe your dog’s paws. This will help keep the pesticides out of your home.
Educate Your Neighbors and Loved Ones
The green lawn is pervasive; many people will work toward maintaining it with little concern for how it impacts their health. One significant way you can control chemicals’ impact on you and your family is by talking to your neighbors and loved ones who use them.
Enter these conversations from a place of love and care. Everyone wants to do the right things for their families. Share what you have learned. Consider printing off this or other articles you have read. Lead with statistics that show the danger of these chemicals commonly used. Make it clear that you aren’t being difficult and want to help. Then, share alternatives! The more people who use organic, safe alternatives, the easier they will be to access and the less expensive they will also become.
Be the Change
The more people who know about this problem and can help you spread awareness, the further the message will carry. A chorus of voices is louder than a soloist. So bring a whole support team with you to the neighborhood HOA meeting and town halls. Work together to write letters to help make real change.
You can post small signs on your lawn that educate people who pass by about the dangers of pesticides and that your yard is safe to walk on. If nothing else, it will get your neighbors talking about and maybe even considering the issue of pesticide use.
Sign Ban TruGreen Petition
Linda Yin calls us to be the change and help make a difference by signing a petition that demands TruGreen switch to safer chemicals. Linda is standing up to Goliath and demanding that this popular company make a change that will protect their clients and the families of those clients. Currently, the chemicals TruGreen uses are not only damaging to humans, but they also impact the water and air we (and the animals around us) breathe.
Linda first became acutely aware of TruGreen chemicals’ danger while looking out the window, holding her two-week-old son. Then, while her husband was walking with their dog, she witnessed a TruGreen van pull up to her neighbor’s house, don a mask, spray chemicals all over the lawn, put in a little sign, and leave. She quickly realized that no one else who passed the property would know when TruGreen had sprayed the chemicals or what was seven in them. This lit a fire for Yin that drove her to create the petition.
In addition to being carcinogenic and impacting fertility, forty-three percent of their chemicals are restricted or even banned in other countries. Thirty-four percent are either known or suspected disruptors of the endocrine system. A full one hundred percent of their chemicals threaten the environment and water supply. Though they say that the drying process only takes one to two hours, these chemicals are often traced several days later in water and the air. Furthermore, TruGreen and Roundup both use a weed killer called glyphosate. Recently, the makers of Roundup (Bayer) had to pay two billion dollars in settlements to fill 125,000 claims that the chemical caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Is all of that worth a green lawn?
America’s green lawns are a long-held tradition, spurred on by chemical companies who have convinced families that their home is not complete without one. As a result, many families turn to a service like TruGreen to help maintain a green lawn. However, few families know (or fail to recognize) the dangers of the chemicals and pesticides used. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives. However, until those become the more popular option, you must take precautions to protect your family from the chemicals in these various products.