In April 2014, the Government of Manitoba introduced new legislation restricting the use of cosmetic pesticides in Manitoba. Health, environment and labour groups, as well as many citizens, joined the call for Manitoba to show national leadership by instituting a comprehensive and effective ban on cosmetic pesticides. The ban:
- Prohibits the use, sale and retail display of chemical pesticides for lawns, gardens and non-agricultural landscaping, including by licensed operators
- Is comprehensive in the number of pesticides included under the ban, including new chemicals as they are developed
- Provides public education about the ban and alternatives to chemical pesticides
- Includes effective mechanisms for enforcement
Cosmetic pesticide use is a public health issue
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the US National Toxicology Program state that some pesticides can cause cancer. The Pesticides Literature Review conducted by the Ontario College of Family Physicians showed “consistent links to serious illnesses, such as cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases.”
- Children are at a greater risk from pesticide exposure than adults because they are closer to the ground and their bodies are still developing.
- Cancer survivors and people suffering from asthma, chemical sensitivities or other health conditions may also be at greater risk from pesticides.
- The notion that pesticide use is an individual matter is scientifically incorrect.
Children and pets are especially at risk
- Once dispersed, pesticides affect non-target plant, animal and human health in our shared environment.
- Pets are smaller and much closer to the ground. They often lie in the grass, chew grass and other plants, lick their paws and groom themselves, thereby ingesting materials that were on the grass. Pesticides are poisons, designed to kill, and they may remain on the ground and in the air for long periods of time.
- Exposure can even occur in the house, where pesticides are tracked in on people’s shoes or pets’ paws. Studies have shown the presence of 2,4-D in indoor air and on all indoor surfaces after the application of lawn chemicals.
- These studies measured the residues of 2,4-D one week before lawn application and one week after. The results showed exposures 10 times higher after the lawn application than before and this was a whole week after it had been applied.
- There is an increased risk of malignant lymphoma associated with exposure to 2,4-D in dogs. Dogs exposed to lawns treated with chemicals within the previous 7 days were 50 times more likely to have 2,4-D at concentrations of > or = 50 micrograms/l in their urine, than dogs with exposure to lawns than had been treated more than 2 days previously.
- Warning signs often recommend staying off the grass until it dries or for 48 hours, but according to the above studies, exposure hazards last for much longer.
- Another study links the use of lawn chemicals to bladder cancer in Scottish terriers. The risk of developing bladder cancer was 4 to 7 times greater in the dogs who had been exposed to lawn chemicals. The study also refers to the similarity between human and dog genomes and the genetic predisposition that some dogs and some humans share towards certain types of cancers.
“Pesticides are highly poisonous substances designed to kill living organisms… The choice facing us is clear: either to continue with our chronic dependence on pesticides to the detriment of the environment, agricultural sustainability and human health or, to give public health protection clear precedence. We have already done so with tobacco, lead and asbestos. Pesticides should be next.”
— The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development of the House of Commons, in a 2000 report entitled “Pesticides – Making the Right Choice, For the Protection of Health and the Environment”
For more information, visit Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba