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Some call it invisible chemical warfare

April 12, 2018

As temperatures increase and layers of warm clothing are shed, Chicagoans are getting ready for the greatest time of year. Patios are opening. Divvy rentals are increasing. Tulips and oaks are blooming. Farmers and gardeners are uncovering beds. And door-to-door lawn care solicitations are in full swing. 


But buyers beware! When it comes down to it, pesticides and herbicides are chemicals designed to kill and disrupt natural systems. The killing power of these chemicals is greater than just targeting one specific target, since air transports trillions and trillions of particles every second. Spraying a deadly chemical with the intention of killing only one target is not possible. Alarming studies have findings such as the following:


  • A 2018 study on glyphosate in pregnant women from Indiana confirmed that this widely used herbicide ends up in people’s bodies. The findings also suggest that prenatal glyphosate exposure may be linked to shorter pregnancies, which have been correlated with lifelong adverse health consequences for children. Source: Pesticide Action Network

  • A 2014 study completed in Northern Colorado most frequently found atrazine, fuberidazole, imidacloprid, terbumeton, and clopyralid in a dog’s urine. Source: Environmental Science & Technology

  • Forty-two percent of children from families with recurrent birth defects were conceived in spring, the time of highest pesticide application. This rate is significantly higher than any other season. Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine




These messages aren't new. Scientists, authors, and educators have been writing about the dangers for decades. Rachel Carson was a pioneer in pesticide research and education. Her book Silent Spring (1962) warns of the dangers to all natural systems from the misuse of chemical pesticides. Former EPA analyst E.G. Vallianatos takes it as far as calling it "Invisible Chemical Warfare." After all, these synthetic chemicals are siblings of chemical warfare agents, he says.  


Whether you manage your back yard garden or have a say in the lawn management of your apartment complex, remember that you hold the power to voice your opinion on the use of pesticides. Do it for your health. Do it for the kids on the block. Do it for generations to come. 


Interested in more reading? Check these out: 


What You Can Do - Safer Alternatives to Pesticides!

Pesticide Industry Ramps Up Lobbying

Report calls out worst produce for pesticides

The Pesticide Treadmill

Pee and pesticides: Thoreau's Walden Pond in trouble, warn scientists





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