All members of our community, but especially those not in perfect health, will benefit from reduction in urban pesticide use, both through a reduced risk of ill health caused by our exposure to them, and through having a more biodiverse, hence healthier, world around our homes. And, as of Earth Day 2008, the government of Ontario has agreed that we residents of Ontario are to be able to join such a world.
For 40 years, our group activities focused on the overuse of pesticides on lawns and public spaces in the Ottawa area, on the hidden dangers of the secret formulants in those pesticides, and on the use of unnecessarily toxic insecticides in rental properties. We advised residents of non-toxic methods of lawn and house care, and of the few actions they had available to them to protect themselves against pesticide exposure. We made countless presentations to governments who used or licensed pesticide use in urban areas.
The Ontario College of Family Physicians encouraged its members to "educate patients regarding the known health concerns associated with pesticides" and to "encourage alternatives to pesticides". They cited studies which they considered to show unmistakeable correlation between home pesticide use and children's cancers. The Director of Environmental Health of the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department noted that "The problem is that these [pesticides] are like cigarettes - we all know that they kill people, but it's still legal to use them." The Department advised that "pesticides should only be used when absolutely necessary" and provided practical information on alternatives to them. We supported these programs in every way we could, including raising money for assistance programs to those with severe asthma, allergies and environmental illness that were not provided for by provincial public health legislation.
First, of course, stop using pesticides yourself! But, don't just quit 'cold turkey' and expect instant results. Once your soil's health has been damaged by pesticides, it takes a while to recover. And, you will need to spend as much time helping things to grow as you used to spend killing things. Print out a copy of the information pamphlets approved by the Region of Ottawa-Carleton and the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department on Ecological Lawn Care, Non-grass Ground Covers, Non-toxic Control of White Grubs and Sustainable Municipal Turf Management. After a year of following their advice, you should be able to end your pesticide use without problems.
Next, persuade your neighbours to follow your successful example. You are free to make as many copies as you wish of any of our pages, and of the regional pamphlets, for distribution. Make your neighbourhood healthier one neighbour at a time.
If you live in an area which does not already have a bylaw to restrict pesticide use to matters affecting human health, write to your municipal councillor asking for support for one. Write to your provincial member of your Legislative Assemby, asking that your province cease protecting pesticide companies from being sued when they cause health or property damage to others, as most provinces now do. Write to your federal member of parliament to demand that the federal registration process take account of all Canadians, not just those in perfect health.
Lawns: Looks that Kill
The Christie Action List
The Christie List of Links
How to Grow Dandelions
Kid-friendly turf is possible
West Nile Virus and Insecticides
A Naturalist's View of Pesticides
Urban Pesticide Use - Ontario Style
Is your lawn dependent on chemicals?
Organic Agriculture and Human Health
Pesticides vs. Worker Safety in Canada
Human Reactions to Pesticide Exposure
2,4-D: The Wrong Symbol for Pesticides
Pesticides and Municipal By-laws in Ontario
Why Science Can't Prove a Pesticide is Safe
The Right Not To Be Sprayed By Pesticides
Naturalised Gardens and Municipal Standards By-Laws
Health Dangers of Urban Use of Pesticides Working Group