Low-Risk Alternatives for Lawn Care to be Focus of Legislation: Mackintosh.
Manitoba is proposing to join most of Canada in reducing children's and pets' exposure to synthetic chemical lawn pesticides with legislation to be introduced in the next session that would replace the sale and use of those products with the rapidly growing array of federally approved, effective, low-risk bio-pesticides, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
"Medical experts are clear that synthetic chemical lawn pesticides pose risks to human health, especially in the early stages of life, and to pets as well. We must reduce exposure to these products where they are not needed," said Mackintosh. "Given the increasing availability of replacement products and alternative turf management practices that effectively control weeds, Manitoba is proposing to join most other provinces and more than 170 Canadian municipalities to protect human, pet and environmental health."
Building on studies done since the early 1990s, three notable warnings about the risk of synthetic chemical pesticides have been released this year. Most recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that "epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioural problems."
"From a risk versus benefit perspective, the health benefits of reducing unnecessary use of cosmetic pesticides outweigh the risks," said Dr. Elise Weiss, deputy chief provincial health officer. "It is prudent to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure to pregnant women and children."
"A mounting body of peer-reviewed science shows links between pesticide exposure and serious illnesses including cancer, birth defects and neurological diseases. As a doctor and a father, I support strong legislation that will reduce unnecessary pesticide exposure and prevent some of our most vulnerable populations, especially children, from getting sick," said Dr. Paul Doucet, an emergency physician and father of five.
The legislation to be introduced in the next legislative session would allow only federally approved bio-pesticides for sale and use on lawns, driveways, sidewalks and patios as well as school grounds, playing fields and playgrounds used predominantly by children and on health-care institution and child-care centre grounds. The legislation would become effective in December 2014 with a one-year grace period for homeowners and would specifically exempt agricultural lands and gardens, golf courses, sod farms, and addressing high-risk noxious weeds and poisonous or invasive species.
"As a mother, I want peace of mind that the simple act of playing outdoors won't increase my children's risk of cancer or respiratory problems. I want to live in a province that is progressive and brave enough to keep our children safe," said Adrienne Percy, mother of two and founder of the Concerned Mothers' Coalition of Manitoba.
The minister said the four points of the provincial strategy to reduce pesticide exposure will be informed by further consultation and will include:
* strengthened noxious weed management to protect agricultural lands for production,
* a strict integrated pest management program for all government pesticide applications beginning December 2013,
* consumer and applicator awareness about effective lawn bio-pesticides and organic practices, and
* consultation with the education and child-care centre sectors to significantly reduce indoor pesticide exposure.
The minister said the proposed legislation would be phased in to allow homeowners to become familiar with the growing array of low-risk replacement products and practices, and to allow retailers and the lawncare sector to adapt its products and services. Introducing the legislation in the next session will provide time to consult with the lawn-care industry and other stakeholders on the detailed regulations required to successfully implement the law and determine which insecticides would be included, he added.
More information on pesticides is available at:
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ATTACHED
COMMENTS ON PESTICIDES
"Pesticides are designed to kill a variety of insects, fungi, weeds and other pests. If humans are exposed by the right route to a toxic dose of any pesticide, they can, of course, also be affected. For this reason, it is essential that pesticides always be used according to the manufacturer' directions. Health Canada registers only those products that provide effective management of pest problems and that can be used safety when label directions are followed.
"However, a number of studies have demonstrated association between a variety of pesticides, in variable doses and exposure routes, and negative health effects. These associations, although they do not prove that pesticides - used as prescribed - cause these health effects, do raise concerns about their use.
"In the face of this uncertainty, it is prudent, from a health perspective, to weigh the potential benefits of pesticide use with the uncertain risk of human pesticide exposure. Simply stated, if pesticides are not needed, they should not be used.
"Pregnant women and children should always be priority populations for avoiding risk, regardless of the nature and magnitude of that risk. Whether they live in rural Manitoba or urban centres, their exposure to pesticide should be minimized."
Margaret V. Fast MD, former acting chief provincial medical officer of health (supported by Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer)
"Our doctors applaud the lawn pesticide ban announced today. Assuming the legislation goes ahead without loopholes, it will make a major contribution to environmental protection and human health. Study after study shows that people exposed to pesticides are at greater risk for cancer and neurological illness. This ban will go a long way toward protecting our lakes, drinking water, beloved family pets and - most important - our children. In a word, it will protect what matters most to Manitobans."
Gideon Forman, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
"As the public turns to more eco-friendly products to protect people and the environment, Neudorff and other companies are developing low-risk alternatives to conventional chemicals. These alternatives, such as Fiesta Lawn Weed Killer, can be used in conjunction with IPM practices to maintain healthy lawns and landscapes. Fiesta has been successfully used in other areas of Canada with pesticide restrictions like Ontario and Nova Scotia."
Tim Tripp, product manager commercial, Neudorff North America
"The use of cosmetic pesticides for lawn care places unnecessary risks on human health and the environment. Taking lawn pesticides off store shelves is an important step towards protecting fragile and threatened waterways like Lake Winnipeg. Given that many safe alternatives are available, we welcome legislation that will provide Manitoba families and ecosystems with protections already offered elsewhere in Canada."
Josh Brandon, Green Action Centre
"Rona is concerned about the products that we make available to consumers and the impact these products have on the environment, health and safety - whether this impact is attributable to the nature of the products themselves or to the manner in which they are used.
"Rona's commitment to sustainable development includes helping customers to choose the right eco-responsible products and make better eco-responsible renovation and maintenance of their house.
"As part of Rona's responsible procurement policies, such as its well-known wood procurement policy, RONA stopped selling synthetic pesticides for cosmetic use in all its stores across Canada from July 1, 2009.
"Rona's approach to pesticides is based on the following key components: informing and training our employees, and informing, sensitizing and inciting consumers to adopt alternative solutions to synthetic pesticides for cosmetic use."
- Darin Lemieux, director of market development, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northwest Ontario, Rona
Related: Manitoba’s “war on weeds” comes complete with powerful herbicides, questionable spraying practices and collateral damage.