EHHI Releases Research Report On Risks From Lawn-Care Pesticides
From: Robina Suwol
Date: 29 Jun 2003
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
Subject: PRESS RELEASE - EHHI Releases Research Report on Risks from Lawn-Care
For more information, contact:
Jane Bradley, Creative Advertising & Publishing Services
West Hartford, CT 06107
860-232-7788 or 860-313-1326
Nancy Alderman, Environment & Human Health, Inc.
1191 Ridge Rd., North Haven, CT 06473
203-248-6582 or FAX 203-288-7571
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Environment and Human Health, Inc. is releasing the findings of its Research
report on the risks from lawn-care pesticides.
Hartford, CT, June 24, 2003
Lawn-care pesticides pose significant threats to human health and the
environment, warns a new report released today by
Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) titled Risks from Lawn-Care
Pesticides. EHHI is a nine-member, non-profit organization composed of
doctors, public health professionals and policy experts.
EHHIs report reveals that the scientific community clearly supports the
conclusion that pesticides pose a special risk to fetuses, infants, and
children. The report recommends immediate changes in laws at the federal,
state and local levels of government. It also recommends precautionary
measures that may be taken immediately by stores and consumers to limit
health and environmental hazards.
"Pesticides, including insecticides and herbicides, are intentionally toxic
substances," said John Wargo, Ph.D., professor of Risk Analysis and Public
Policy at Yale University, member of EHHI and principal author of the
project. "There is broad scientific consensus that children are
especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of pesticides. Childrens low body
weight and rapidly growing organ systems combine to make them more susceptible
to many toxic substances, including pesticides."
"There is growing evidence of links between pesticide exposures and the risk
of human cancers, including acute childhood leukemia with home pesticide use
and non-Hodgins lymphoma with exposures to herbicides," said D. Barry Boyd,
M.D., an oncologist at Greenwich Hospital and board member of EHHI. "As well,
some recent studies show increased rates of prostate cancer among farm
populations that have been occupationally exposed to a variety of pesticides,"
continued Dr. Boyd. "Of increasing concern is the potential
role of pesticide exposure in low doses, as well as in combinations, to exert
endocrine disrupting effects causing endocrine-related cancers.
The long-term risks of these exposures is a worry in vulnerable populations
such as children and pregnant mothers."
"The two primary federal strategies to manage pesticide risks are the use of
consumer warning labels and effective packaging. Our findings demonstrate that
there are significant defects in both the labeling and packaging," said Wargo.
Under current federal and state law, it is legal for lawn-care
chemicals to be sold in bags that commonly break and spill, endangering
consumers and workers. Current legal labeling practices confuse the consumer
with highly technical language that is printed in minute type.
"At present, no federal or state laws regulate where lawn-care
pesticides may be sold and little is done to safeguard either customers or
workers in stores from lawn-care pesticide exposures," said Nancy Alderman, MES, president of Environment and Human Health, Inc. "These are hazardous
materials and yet they are allowed to be sold next to food and produce
without any regulations protecting the public."
Many lawn-care products are packaged in large plastic bags that easily rip and
break. EHHI surveyed many large retail outlets in Connecticut in May, June and
July of 2002. These stores included a number of Walmarts, Lowes, Home Depots,
Kmarts, BJs, and Sams Clubs. It was found that many of these stores had broken
bags of lawn-care pesticides, many stores had these
products piled up next to check-out counters and some stores had them piled up
near food products. Workers in stores are not trained to understand the
long-term toxicity of these lawn-care pesticides or the special care needed
when cleaning up ripped and leaking packages.
Pesticide and fertilizer odors within stores are a clear sign of
packaging failure. Loose pesticide granules threaten workers, consumers, and
others who may be unintentionally exposed in stores, in vehicles while
transporting the pesticides, and in residential environments. Parents commonly
bring small children into stores to shop for lawn-care chemicals, with the
expectation that the products are safe and completely contained.
Children walking down aisles where pesticides are visibly contaminating their
surroundings is clear evidence of failure by both industry and government to
protect the publics health.
Consumers presume that lawn-care pesticides are safe because they are sold in
stores that also market foods and other consumer products. Products such as
"Weed-and Feed," "Weed-B-Gon," and "Turf Builder with PLUS2 Weed Control"
are all names that might seem innocuous to the consumer, but they contain
pesticides such as 2,4-D, which has been linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and
MCPP, which has been associated with soft tissue cancers. Products such as
"Bug-B-Gone" and "Turf Builder with Insect Control" also might sound quite
benign to the consumer, but they contain carbaryl and diazinon,
both of which are capable of harming the nervous system. Carbaryl is suspected
of altering human hormone function, while the residential uses of diazinon, an
organophosphate insecticide, was recently recognized by Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to pose a special threat to children. The EPA is
phasing out the residential uses of diazinon.
Children are often more exposed to pesticides than are adults in
residential settings. Children play or crawl on grass or floors where
pesticide powders and granules normally settle. Some lawn-care chemicals are
neurotoxic, others are carcinogenic, and still others are suspected to act
like human hormones once they enter our bodies.
"The lawn-care industry has cultivated the impression that the chemicals it
sells are necessary for OEhealthy. and aesthetically pleasing lawns,"
Wargo said. "The price of aesthetics is often human exposure to chemicals
recognized by the EPA to carry the risk of nervous system damage, hormonal
effects, and cancer. Home applications also threaten water quality, fish,
birds, and wildlife."
Despite the fact that pesticides have long term health risks, current federal
law does not require consumer warnings of the long-term (chronic) health
hazards of these products. Therefore, the public remains uninformed
of the potential long-term health threats posed by these chemicals, while at
the same time being subjected to intensive television, radio, print and
Susan Addiss, MPH, MUrS, a past commissioner of the Connecticut
Department of Public Health and board member of EHHI, explained, "For years,
we have protected our children from drugs by requiring packaging in
child-proof containers and yet we allow our children to be exposed to toxic
pesticides, which are packaged in plastic bags that easily rip and spill.
Adding to this risk is the fact that when the bags do break, the spilled
pesticides are often swept up and thrown in the trash, further adding to
contamination and human exposures."
Robert LaCamera, M.D., a pediatrician and board member of EHHI, said, "We must
better protect our children from these chemical exposures. Many families take
their children into stores where these products are sold and they have no idea
that they could be putting their children at risk from these products."
Alderman concluded by saying, "We need better state and federal laws to
protect the public from harmful lawn-care pesticide exposures. At the federal
level we need child-proof packaging that will be both unbreakable and
non-porous, and we need better labeling that will include the long-term health
effects of the lawn-care pesticides so that the public can better
understand the health risks involved when using these products."
EHHI recommends that stores that sell food as well lawn-care pesticides only
be allowed to sell their lawn-care pesticides in outside facilities that are
covered and have non-porous floors. EHHI also recommends that individuals
reduce their uses of lawn-care pesticides to protect themselves and their
families from pesticide exposures.
Alderman concluded, "Connecticut residents experience some of the highest
rates of cancer in the nation, and we believe that this fact alone is
sufficient to justify more cautious management of known toxic substances."
For the full text of the report and a summary version, both available in
downloadable pdf format, please visit our website at
Last changed: March 14, 2006