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Safe Lawns

September 23, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

Do you cringe when you see those little lawn signs that warn us to stay off the grass for 72 hours after being treated with chemicals? I sure do. I always wonder what happens after the 72-hour period. Where do the dangerous chemicals go? Do they magically disappear and become inert? Of course they don’t. They seep deep into the ground and into our drinking water supply. Even when the chemicals are sprayed, they do not obediently stay within the confines of the property that is being treated. They are carried by the wind into the lungs of anybody unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. The lawncare professional knows to wear a safety mask when using the spray, but what about the rest of us? What about our kids and their growing bodies? What about our pets, who are closest to the ground?

Well, a group of citizens in Montclair, NJ had these concerns, so they banded together to talk about what they could do about it and Safe Lawns Montclair was born. This diverse group of homeowners, renters, parents, and single and retired folks came together to reach out and educate fellow residents of the dangers of lawn chemicals—those sprayed by professionals or sold directly to consumers for self-application. Many people who treat their lawns do not know the hazards of doing so and assume that we are protected by laws controlling hazardous substances. But the fact is that the current widespread use of lawn chemicals (over 80 million tons on American lawns every year) is going on without safety testing.

There are many scientific studies indicating that pesticides threaten the public’s health by increasing the risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and reproductive problems. So many of us have been touched personally by these conditions, and yet, we may not be aware that our lawncare practices are a contributing factor in the increase of them. But if we stop to think about it, it doesn’t make sense that we would allow toxins to be dumped on our property—even if the payoff is a weed-free green lawn.

In order to share information and try to persuade people that a dandelion is better than cancer (or other disease), Safe Lawns Montclair will be holding a FREE panel discussion with local experts, including organic lawncare experts and Dr. Mara Silgailis, who has a PhD in Developmental Psychology and is interested in the effects of pesticides on humans. This panel is open to all who are interested in ending lawn chemical use on their own lawns or in their own towns, not just Montclair residents, but space is limited so please rsvp.

October 27; 7 — 8:30 pm at Van Vleck Gardens at 21 Van Vleck St. in Montclair
To register, email:
For more information, click here.

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