Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

GO GREEN! LIVE HEALTHY WITHOUT PESTICIDES

Posted by strattof on April 5, 2012

It’s SPRING in Regina! HURRAH!!  But wait! Is that a dandelion I see poking its head up in my pristine green lawn? Not already!! Where is the number for the pesticide company I called last year?

STOP: Before you dial that number, please consider the following facts:

  • The Canadian Cancer Society warns against the use of pesticides, citing research that links their use to cancer and other serious health issues.
  • Dandelions have many health benefits. All parts of the plant – flower, leaves, stem, and root – are edible.  

4 NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF PESTICIDES

1.   Children and unborn babies are at high risk for health problems related to pesticides. These include developmental problems, lower intelligence scores, birth defects, endocrine disruption, allergies, asthma, and leukemia, as well as several other types of cancer. Pesticides drift far on the wind and can be breathed in or land on toys, garden food, and clothes. They can also be tracked into the house. Children are particularly vulnerable as their bodies and brains are still developing and their immune system is immature. Older children doing active sports breathe in more air with its burden of toxins.

 2.   Seniors are also at high risk. Immune systems and organ functions weaken with age. These systems which help the body deal with toxins are often already overworked by daily medications. So exposure to pesticides has a more damaging effect.

3.   Pesticide exposure damages the same brain areas as those linked to multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is also becoming clear that pesticides are hormone disrupters. Thus long exposure to chemical pesticides can cause cancers such as prostate cancer and other degenerative diseases.

4.   The birds and the bees are gravely threatened by pesticides. Bees depend on dandelions, their first spring source of nectar. We depend on pollination by bees for about one-third of our food. Birds not only give us joy, they devour mosquitoes. Pets too are threatened by lawn pesticides, as are many beneficial insects.  

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticides. Children eat and drink more per kilogram of body weight than adults. Their skin is more permeable and their livers do not excrete as efficiently as adults’. Their hand-to-mouth behaviour increases the chance of ingestion and their dermal contact is increased because of a proportionally larger skin surface, and because they play on the ground outdoors and on the floor indoors.”–Ontario College of Family Physicians 2004

HOW GREEN DOES OUR GARDEN GROW?

  • Five Canadian provinces have banned pesticides: Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. But not Saskatchewan.  In our province it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides on lawns and gardens.
  • Over 150 Canadian municipalities have also banned pesticides. But not Regina.  In 2002, a citizen campaign to introduce a ban ended with City Council voting against it.
  • However, in May 2010, City Council did institute a one-year pilot pesticide reduction project, designating three parks–Gordon Park in southwest Regina, Al Pickard Park in north Regina, and Queen Elizabeth II Court in front of City Hall–as pesticide-free.
  • In both economic and aesthetic terms, this experiment was a success. But rather than expanding the project to all city parks, City Council merely extended the “pesticide-free” designation of the original three parks, first through 2011, and now through 2012.
  • Why not make all of our parks pesticide-free and thus safe? This is the question raised by the Canadian Cancer Society which is advocating for all parks in Regina, indeed all lawns in Saskatchewan, to become pesticide-free. 
  • This summer, the city is completing a threshold count of weeds in all Regina parks. If the three pesticide-free parks have weed counts above the threshold, the city will once again start using pesticides on them. Is there a health-risk threshold?
  • Three years ago, the Saskatoon Health Region cut out the use of herbicides (pesticides that kill plants) on the grounds of hospitals, to prevent unnecessary toxic exposure to employees, patients, and visitors. Why hasn’t the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region adopted the same policy?

“Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate, lung, pancreatic, stomach, kidney and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides. Learning disorders, reproductive issues and acute health effects are also associated to pesticides. By eliminating the non-essential use of pesticides, exposure to these harmful chemicals will drastically decrease, contributing to better overall public and environmental health.”–Canadian Cancer Society

WHAT YOU AND I CAN DO

  • Banish toxic pesticides from our property, making it safe for people, birds, bees, and pets.
  • Cherish Diversity: Enjoy an interesting lawn of various plants.
  • Dig the dandelions and EAT them. See DANDELION RECIPES insert or call Catherine at 569-7699 for suggestions.
  • Have a healthy lawn: mow high, dig out weeds, aerate (poke holes), leave grass clippings on for nutrients. (For more information, read the pamphlet All the Dirt on Healthy Lawns, available at City Hall.) Alternatively, plant non-grass ground covers.
  • Speak out about our concern about pesticides at work places, health centres, senior homes, daycare centres, and schools.
  • Contact Regina City Councillors, asking them to expand the pesticide-free parks and to add Regina to the growing “pesticide-free cities” movement.
  • Contact the Regina-Qu’Appelle Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Maurice Hennink (maurice.hennink@rqhealth.ca), urging that Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region follow Saskatoon Health Region’s lead.
  • Urge the Government of Saskatchewan to follow other provinces and ban cosmetic pesticides. Let the government know that a ban will save on health care expenses:       Premier Brad Wall: 787-9433 or premier@gov.sk.ca; Minister of the Environment, Dustin Duncan: 787-0393 or dduncan@mla.legassembly.sk.ca
  • Find out more about the harmful effects of pesticides. Google “Canadian Cancer Society, pesticides” and “Saskatchewan Environmental Society, pesticide reduction.”
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