As the summer sun turns up the heat, many folks will be tending to their lawns and gardens to make sure they are the greenest on the block and pest-free. However, many are unaware of the potentially harmful toxins that may be lurking in products that are commonly applied to lawns and gardens. As part of its Toxic Free Kids initiative, the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation (CCRF) urges parents to become familiar with the possible dangers associated with common summertime activities, such as playing on the lawn or in the garden.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticides have been linked to causing a wide range of human health hazards such as cancer, reproductive harm, and damage to endocrine systems. Less seriously, pesticides have been linked to acute dangers such as nerve, skin, and eye irritation and damage, headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and systemic poisoning. The U.S. EPA also notes that children are especially susceptible to the dangers of pesticide use. Activities such as playing in the grass expose children to potentially dangerous chemicals in some cases.
To help avoid these risks, CCRF offers the following lawn and garden maintenance tips:
- Organic Fertilizers and Pesticides: Most stores that carry gardening products now carry organic fertilizers and pesticides. Although they come at a higher cost, these organic products do not contain the harsh chemicals used in traditional products, making it safer to use on your property.
- Make Your Own Pesticide: Making your own natural pesticides with common household items is not only good for your garden, but also your wallet. By using 1 ½ tablespoons of biodegradable liquid soap, a quart of water, and a couple of drops of lemon or orange juice, you have a natural pesticide that lasts approximately two months.
- Make Your Garden Stronger: Did you know that by not maintaining your garden properly, you can attract more insects? Insects love to breed in dying plants as well as debris and weeds. By clearing out dead plants and other debris you can significantly reduce the possibility of insect infestations.
- Get The Kids in on The Fun: Instead of buying expensive and harmful weed killers, make a game in which your kids collect weeds from the ground. By showing them what a weed looks like, hold a competition to see who can grab the most. This is healthier for your lawn and encourages your children to be active outdoors.