(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2009)
The Ontario government is set to announce sweeping new regulations that will prohibit the use of 85 chemical substances, found in roughly 250 lawn and garden products, from use on neighborhood lawns. Once approved, products containing these chemicals would be barred from sale and use for cosmetic purposes.
On November 7, 2008, the Ontario government released a proposed new regulation containing the specifics of the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, passed last June. Then, Ontario joined Quebec in restricting the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides but environmental and public health advocates said then that the new law preempted local by-laws and actually weakens protections in some municipalities with stronger local protections. There are over 55 municipalities in Canada where the residential use, but not sale, of pesticides is banned. The prohibition of these 85 substances is the latest step in this Act. The proposal contains:
* List of pesticides (ingredients in pesticide products) to be banned for cosmetic use
* List of pesticide products to be banned for sale
* List of domestic pesticide products to be restricted for sale. Restricted sale products include those with cosmetic and non-cosmetic uses (i.e., a product that’s allowed to be used inside the house but not for exterior cosmetic use), and would not be available self-serve.
The 85 chemicals to be prohibited are listed under “Proposed Class 9 Pesticides” of the Act. Among the 85 pesticides banned for cosmetic use include commonly used lawn chemicals: 2,4-D (Later’s Weed-Stop Lawn Weedkiller), clopyralid, glyphosate (Roundup Lawn & Weed Control Concentrate), imidacloprid, permethrin (Later’s Multi-Purpose Yard & Garden Insect Control), pyrethrins (Raid Caterpillar & Gypsy Moth Killer), and triclopyr.
However, golf courses and sports fields remain exempt. The use of pesticides for public health safety (e.g. mosquito control) is also exempt. The proposed regulation would also allow for the use of new notice’ signs to make the public aware when low risk alternatives to conventional pesticides are used by licensed exterminators, such as the use of corn gluten meal to suppress weed germination in lawns.
The prohibition, once passed, would likely take effect in mid-April. Stores would be forced to remove banned products from their shelves or inform customers that the use of others is restricted to certain purposes. Residents must then dispose of banned products through municipal hazardous waste collection, and use restricted products for only prescribed purposes. Errant users would first receive a warning, but fines would later be introduced. By 2011, stores will be required to limit access to the pesticides, keeping them locked behind glass or cages and ensuring that customers are aware of limitations on use before taking them home.
In light on impeding legislation to restrict pesticide use, the Canadian division of Home Depot announced on April 22, 2008 that it will stop selling traditional pesticides in its stores across Canada by the end of 2008 and will increase its selection of environmentally friendly alternatives. Other garden supply and grocery stores have already stopped selling certain pesticides in Ontario.
This proposed prohibition would have the most impact on 2,4-D, the most popular and widely used lawn chemical. 2,4-D, which kills broad leaf weeds like dandelions, is an endocrine disruptor with predicted human health risks ranging from changes in estrogen and testosterone levels, thyroid problems, prostate cancer and reproductive abnormalities. A recent petition filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and supported by Beyond Pesticides calls for the cancellation of 2,4-D, its products and its tolerances in the U.S.
Other lawn chemicals like glyphosate (Round-up) and permethrin have also been linked to serious adverse chronic effects in humans. Imidacloprid, another pesticide growing in popularity, has been implicated in bee toxicity and the recent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) phenomena. The health effects of the 30 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 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants.