America's love affair with the lawn accounts for much of the pesticide exposure we and our children and pets receive to in our home environments. According to Beyond Pesticides, a national coalition against the misuse of pesticides, herbicides or weed killers account for the highest percentage of use in landscapes and gardens. Collectively Americans put down more than 90 million pounds of herbicides on their lawns and gardens each year, and suburban lawns and gardens are blanketed with more pounds per acre of pesticides on average than agricultural land. And of course, pesticides used in food and ornamental gardens can be hazardous as well, both in the environment and as residues on food.
Consider these other facts compiled by Beyond Pesticides in their Lawn Pesticide Facts and Figures Factsheet. Many commonly used lawn pesticides are probable or possible carcinogens and have been linked to liver and kidney damage, childhood asthma, and disruption of the endocrine system. Children are most at risk; one study showed that home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia almost seven times. Dogs exposed to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens have double the risk of lymphoma. Birds, aquatic life, and bees are harmed by many commonly used lawn pesticides.
And it's not just the "active ingredients" in pesticides and herbicides that are cause for concern. The composition of the "inert ingredients" that form the bulk of the product don't need to be disclosed on the label, but are often quite toxic, sometimes even more so than the active ingredient.
To read more about the dangers that lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides can pose to people, pets, and the environment, go to Beyond Pesticides.