Strong call for pesticide ban

Colin MacLean
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Gideon Forman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment speaks Thursday night at St. John's City Hall to a public forum on the banning of lawn pesticides.

One day as John Ridgley was working in the garden of his Mount Pearl home he caught a whiff of some of the pesticides that had been used recently on his neighbour’s lawn.

After about 10 minutes of exposure Ridgley went into anaphylactic shock.

Today he carries an EpiPen and had it with him Thursday night as he joined around 45 other residents at St. John’s City Hall to discuss bringing a ban on cosmetic pesticides to Newfoundland and Labrador.

“What else does the government need?” Ridgley said as he addressed the crowd.

Shortly after his incident Ridgley sent pictures of his allergic reaction ridden body to the minister of environment and conservation at the time and asked for a ban on cosmetic pesticides to be considered. He received a letter in response saying the issue was under study.

To say Ridgley was unsatisfied with this response would be putting it mildly.

“The political will is not there right now to change this,” he said.

Ridgley had a chance to share his story because of Thursday night’s forum, which was organized by the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides-Newfoundland and Labrador (CAP-NL).

The cities of Mount Pearl and St. John’s have voluntarily refrained from using pesticides on their green spaces for a few years, but neither city is allowed to pass an outright ban on its own because in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province must undertake such action.

Councillors from both cities attended the meeting and added their voices to push for a ban.

Discussion at the forum revolved around what can be done to convince the provincial government that a ban on cosmetic pesticides is needed.

“I’m not just talking about some skin defects, but some very serious health risks.” Gideon Forman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Guest speaker Gideon Forman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Forman and his organization were instrumental in the successful lobbying of a cosmetic pesticide ban in Ontario.

Ontario’s ban influenced several other provinces, including all of the Maritimes and Quebec, to implement their own bans.

Forman told the audience that a ban on cosmetic pesticides was a good all around decision for this province, especially for health-related reasons.

“I’m not just talking about some skin defects, but some very serious health risks,” he said.

Studies have shown possible links between pesticides, including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, to neurological problems, birth defects and cancer.

One of the other major concerns people tend to have with the idea of a ban is what would happen to lawn care companies, he added.

“We want the industry to grow; we just don’t want them to use poisons to do it.”

It should be noted that Forman, along with other speakers, added there is a lack of rock-solid evidence in terms of scientific studies linking pesticides to major health problems.

However, Forman also said there is enough evidence and enough doubt to show a ban is warranted as a preventative measure.

 

cmaclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Coalition for Alternatives, Pesticides-Newfoundland and Labrador, CAP-NL Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.Forman

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario Quebec

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Recent comments

  • Darcie
    February 21, 2011 - 09:27

    Hi Everyone, Please sign the online petition to have non-essential pesticides banned in Newfoundland and Labrador! We are the last Eastern province without a ban! click here: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/42016.html

  • Angela Tate
    February 21, 2011 - 07:44

    I've noticed that the most common users of these chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) for cosmetic reasons in the city are commercial properties, trying to keep that small strip of "grass" between the street and their parking lot "green". Can you imagine how hard it must to be to be a blade of grass on Kenmount Road? Salt, oil, dirt, and other crap. I have to say that most people don't notice that that strip of "grass" is there, the litter is probably more disgraceful, and honestly the natural flora is probably tougher than Kentucky bluegrass that is used to be used. What these business have to gain (usually the property management company as opposed to their tenants), I have no idea - perhaps one of them can explain it to me. I've tried to get answers before but most of them say they just comply with local rules and don't care that consumers are mad. Would love to see some businesses post they are opposed to spraying these things on their property! Most basically though I would like to suggest that if we replace the herbicides and pesticides that are most concerning with alternatives that are healthier for everyone (e.g. good soil preparation before laying sod), than the landscaping and associated industries will evolve to meet the consumer demand for green lawns that are healthier for people and the environment. Change is hard but good, smart businesses are the ones at the forefront of this, ready for when this inevitable legislation is passed, though I bet they are wagering that like all change it takes forever in Newfoundland. And well, the businesses that can't change - probably shouldn't survive.

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
    February 19, 2011 - 10:13

    Re IANBATTLET's claim that he sprays pesticides and yet is healthy so far--he is extremely lucky as applicators do sicken and die as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. I also challenge DAD's claim that none of the information shared at the recent forum was based on science. We have two sides: 1) one claims pesticides are deadly and there is sufficient scientific evidence to back this up; I personally know credible people/scientists who maintains this and 2) the other group claims pesticides are totally harmless. Use your common sense in assessing the situation. The first group have nothing to gain except a healthier lifestyle for themselves, their loved ones and Canadian population at large. The second group has a financial interest in the continued use of pesticides. Now tell me who is more credible, the disinterested, well-informed people, who care about public health, or those who have a financial interest in the continued use of cosmetic pesticides?

  • Max
    February 18, 2011 - 23:59

    Pesticides are poisons - there is no doubt about that - check the label and see all the warnings. To use said poisons on our lawns (where our children play) is disturbing. The only reasons for doing so are related to profit, vanity or simple ignorance. A cosmetic pesticide ban will happen - its only a matter of time - and rightfully so.

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
    February 18, 2011 - 21:04

    What is true science? What are we talking about--herbicides or insecticides? Some insecticides have been with us for centuries, whereas herbicides such as 2,4-D have been invented during WWII for use on the battlefield. Careful use of insecticides, say for bedbugs, is not going to cause any harm. This doesn't apply to herbicides such as 2,4-D, formerly component of the deadly Agent Orange, which has sickened Canadian military men in New Brunswick, for example. Who is a true scientist? An industry lobbyist? A true scientist is someone with both training and integrity and is independent from the industry. What comes from the industry is unreliable and self-serving!

  • Spray Advisory
    February 18, 2011 - 19:06

    Danny Boy..Kudo's to you for not poisoning your property and neighborhood...Bans will actually give many people freedom to breathe fresh air...That's more important...Plus a ban is only for "weeding out" the most toxic pesticides, safer products will still be available. To the second poster...Umm...Hard to understand what this guy is trying to say. And it is clear the "Dad" is an industry rep as he is quick to post on every pesticide article posted with typical industry arguements...True science comes from our physicians and health authorities not "pesticide scientists" paid by industry...I am bewildered at how the issue of toxic pesticides for cosmetic lawn use can be twisted into a bedbug issue or other issues for that matter...Not to mention the latest info on bedbugs is resistance to pesticides and safe alternatives such as heat is being used to battle that situation...Check those facts. A ban on the most toxic pesticides is inevitable...The provincial government needs to act now. Newfoundlanders want the same protection as most of the rest of the country.

  • Spray Advisory
    February 18, 2011 - 18:58

    Danny Boy..Kudo's to you for not poisoning your property and neighborhood...Bans will actually give many people freedom to breathe fresh air...That's more important...Plus a ban is only for "weeding out" the most toxic pesticides, safer products will still be available. To the second poster...Umm...Hard to understand what this guy is trying to say. And it is clear the "Dad" is an industry rep as he is quick to post on every pesticide article posted with typical industry arguements...True science comes from our physicians and health authorities not "pesticide scientists" paid by industry...I am bewildered at how the issue of toxic pesticides for cosmetic lawn use can be twisted into a bedbug issue or other issues for that matter...Not to mention the latest info on bedbugs is resistance to pesticides and safe alternatives such as heat is being used to battle that situation...Check those facts. A ban on the most toxic pesticides is inevitable...The provincial government needs to act now. Newfoundlanders want the same protection as most of the rest of the country.

  • Danny Boy
    February 18, 2011 - 14:36

    I'm still waiting to hear some facts. I don't use pesticides on my lawn because I don't think of myself as lazy or stupid enough to waste money on temporary solution. I don't care for bans either because they are usually the result of small groups taking away the freedom of choice for everyone else. I think a fair compromise would be to change the regulations so that a person would need written approval from his neighbours in order to apply lawn pesticides. I think the regulations only require that the neighbours be notified.

  • Dad
    February 18, 2011 - 12:45

    The above article shows one side of the ban. You failed to mention that none of the information shared at the forum last night was proven to be true by scientist. In actual fact majority of the scientists world wide don't agree with their statements based on science. As for 45 people attending 1/2 were politicians, lawn care companies and coalition members. There were very few from the general public. Its sad that Political Science is being covered here and NOT TRUE SCIENCE. If we're talking about pesticides, ask yourself a question when the next time you sleep in a bed outside of your home: Was this bed treated for BED BUGS. Let the bed bugs go wild because all pesticides are wrong. Look at the facts rather than political science. Why didn't the telegram share what was said at the forum by industry last night? Interesting!

    • Mary Wheeler McFarland
      February 18, 2011 - 23:40

      My child has to carry an epipen for severe allergy to pyrethroids. This is not junk science, it is a medical fact...

  • ianbatlett
    February 18, 2011 - 11:54

    ihave worked for 2 different lawn care companies and i was around all those cemicals and never had any .never had any trouble breathing after wards. So how do you Kill l a bug that can Kill a Lawn pouring water Onit wont doit so cemicals are the only idea Ok.