Cosmetic Use of Lawn Chemicals Banned in Ontario


(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2008)

Ontario is moving to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals by banning the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides. Legislation to be introduced today would make Ontario’s pesticide rules among the toughest in North America. It would also replace a variety of municipal by-laws in place across the province. Studies by public health experts are showing growing evidence of the potential health risk of pesticides, particularly for children. The ban would likely take effect next spring. It would not affect pesticides used for farming or forestry. Golf courses would still be able to use pesticides, but must meet certain conditions to minimize environmental impacts. Pesticides would still be allowed for control of mosquitoes and other insects determined to represent a health threat.

“Our generation is becoming more and more aware of the potential risks in our environment, not only to our health, but to our children’s health. That’s why we’re taking action on behalf of the next generation of Ontarians, and reducing their exposure to chemicals,” said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

“Many municipalities have already shown leadership in banning or restricting cosmetic-use pesticides. We’re extending that protection to all families wherever they live,” said Environment Minister John Gerretsen.

Over 44 per cent of Ontarians already live in a municipality where the cosmetic use of pesticides is banned. Groups such as the Ontario College of Family Physicians and the Canadian Cancer Society have been calling for a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides as a prudent measure to protect our families’ health.

This new legislation, proposed by Premier Dalton McGuinty, comes after years of petitions from local grassroots movements and health groups to ban all cosmetic use of pesticides across the province because of growing concern about the potential harmful effects of these products on human health. (See Daily News of February 28, 2007) The law would prohibit 80 chemicals and 300 products that experts say pose a potential health risk. Similar bans have gone into effect in Toronto and Quebec.

A draft list of outlawed pesticides would soon be released and the final list will be determined by regulation after the province consults on the draft before next spring. The main impact of this action would be to eliminate the residential use of the popular lawn herbicide known as 2,4-D, which kills broad leaf weeds, such as dandelions. 2,4-D is the most widely used lawn chemical but several recent studies show that this pesticide can cause lymphatic cancer in exposed humans, while dogs are twice as likely to contract canine malignant lymphoma when exposed to lawns treated with the chemical. Other lawn chemicals like glyphosate (Round-up) and dicamba have also been linked to serious adverse chronic effects in humans. Health effects of the 36 most commonly used lawn pesticides show that: 14 are probable or possible carcinogens, 15 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 24 with neurotoxicity, 22 with liver or kidney damage, and 34 are sensitizers and/or irritants.

Action: This spring, care for your lawn without putting your health and that of your family’s at risk. Least toxic alternatives for lawn care do exist. To find out more information, check out our Lawns and Landscapes program page.

Source: Premier’s media office