An increasing number of people are actively seeking more natural alternatives to conventional lawn chemicals, reports the Chicago Sun Times. The movement mirrors the rising popularity of organic food, and is engendering similar controversy over consumers' rights.
With rates of many cancers, autism and other problems on the rise, researchers continue to probe possible links to environmental triggers. The Harvard School of Public Health recently found that people reporting exposure to pesticides had a 70 percent higher incidence of Parkinson's disease than those not reporting exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency has warned that kids are at greater risk from chemical exposure, since they are smaller, have less developed immune systems, and also spend more time at home, in the yard, and low to the ground.
Toxic pesticides easily get tracked indoors, where they can persist for long periods of time. They also runoff lawns into waterways, where they damage aquatic environments, and can end up back in our drinking water. Since pesticides don't often stay where they are applied, they are sparking intense debates in many neighborhoods.
In 2001, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that the nation's communities can restrict cosmetic pesticide use on private as well as public property. As of this writing, more than 129 have done so. As is often the case in the U.S., industry got organized, and lobbied to block such restrictions. All but nine states have laws that prevent local governments from passing residential bans on pesticides.
As a result, concerned parents and clean water advocates are left with education campaigns as primary tools, although they have also pushed for restrictions on use of chemicals on public property. The latter strategy has not been without its own controversy, as natural techniques often take longer to be effective at knocking out weeds, and tend to be more costly. The nation's largest lawn-care company, TruGreen-ChemLawn, even dropped the ChemLawn part of its name because of rising opposition to chemicals.
The organic lawn-care sector is the fastest growing part of the industry, in a situation that mirrors what has happened in the food and personal-care industries. As more and more people try organic lawn care, the prices will keep coming down, and the techniques will get refined. It will be easier to get great green results as people gain experience.
Until then, many neighbors, and even spouses, are left battling it out for control of the the turf. Those who want to play it safe are refusing to use petro-chemicals, while others are questioning the wisdom of having carpets of green at all. Others are hewing to a more traditional look, and aren't willing to wait through periods of uneven transition. The health of the nation's environment, as well as domestic life, may be hanging in the balance!Related Stories:
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