With the rise in sales of lawn products, lawn problems also appear to be increasing. Many residents are mistakenly diagnosing lawn damage as disease, when misuse and overapplication of chemicals is the cause. And lawn care products can damage more than grass. Children, pets, and gardeners themselves can be poisoned by chemical misapplication. Here are some questions and answers about lawn care products:
- Are these products safe for humans and pets?
In the U.S., fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other toxins are only required to report the active ingredients in the product. They are not required to describe inert ingredients, which may include arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and other metals. If kids and pets (and adults) spend a lot of time rolling around in the grass, they’re going to be exposed to these toxins. If you must use these products, do so in moderation and follow the labels explicitly. And do not allow pets and children onto the lawn until the material has been watered down thoroughly and at least 24 hours have passed.
- Are chemical products safe to apply?
Children should not take part in the application of either fertilizers or pesticides, and neither should pets. Adults should wear proper protection (gloves, long-sleeved shirts, hats, safety glasses, long trousers) when applying a chemical.
- Follow IPM practices.
IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. Used and promoted by most agricultural universities in this country, IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests and diseases. Using biological controls, best practices of soil and plant management, use of resistant varieties and changing of cultural practices. Pesticides and herbicides are used only as a last resort.