BY Nicola Grobe
I have researched this information from different websites because I am an animal lover and concerned about human and pet diseases. The amount of diseases caused by pesticides makes it imperative that we learn how to create alternative, healthy and effective ways of gardening.
Pesticides encompass several different chemical categories:
* herbicides (used to kills weeds)
* insecticides (used to kill insects)
* fungicides (used to control molds and fungi)
* rodenticides (used to kill rodents).
All pesticides have one thing in common: they kill.
From the beginning of human history food was grown without the aid of chemicals. Cancer barely existed. Between 1940 and 1950, chemical agriculture was introduced on a wide scale.
Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, states that from 1950 to 1998, breast cancers increased by 60% Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple myeloma increased by 200 percent, prostate cancer increased by 200 percent, and testicular cancer between the ages 28 and 35, increased by 300 percent.
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides destroy the natural soil microorganisms necessary for healthy plant growth. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides weaken the immune system of plants, which makes them less resistant to insect invasions. Pesticides cause cancer in animals and humans.
The insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloro- ethane) has been banned in many countries since 1974 because of its toxicity, its environmental damage, and its ability to accumulate in living tissue, causing tumors. EDB (Ethylene dibro-mide) was marketed around 1950 as an insecticide and a post-harvest fumigant for fruits, vegetables and grains. In 1984, it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to its carcinogenicity, mutagenicity and reproductive toxicity.
A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed that dog owners who treat their lawns with weed killers containing 2,4-D, double and triple the probability of their pet to develop cancer. Dogs walk across, roll in and ingest toxic chemicals when they lick their coats and paws. Studies by oncologists Dr. Lennart Hardell and Mikail Eriksson of Sweden have determined clear links between the herbicide glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Glyphosate is commonly known as “Roundup” and is used indiscriminately to kill any plant it comes in contact with. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is eliminating the use of nearly all household purposes pesticides containing chlorpyrifos. One of them is known as “Dursban”. Exposure to this pesticide can cause neurological damage. Particularly children are affected by chlorpyrifos. This chemical can be found in animal flea collars, and insecticide dusts in a broad range of products used for lawn and home purposes.
Recent scientific studies involving laboratory animals show that many pesticides damage the developing brain and nervous system. Scientists have discovered that some pesticides have the ability to mimic or compete with hormones (the chemicals in our bodies that trigger development and functioning).
Pesticides affect the hypothalamic catecholamine systems, which are the pathways critical for the control of movement (nigrostriatal dopaminergic systems) and for complex cognitive functions (mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic systems). Neurodegenerative dysfunctions caused by pesticides and associated with these systems include Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder. (Crossman, 2000; Epstein et al., 1999; Viggiano et al., 2003).
The Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study revealed that the use of professional pest control services at any time from conception to 3 years in a child’s life significantly increases the risk of childhood leukemia. Prenatal exposure to pesticides poses the highest risk for developing leukemia. In October 1996, CNN reported a test conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA tested lawn herbicides and found that after spraying the herbicides around people‘s gardens, the level of contamination found inside homes was ten to one hundred times stronger than what was found outside. Pesticides are brought into the house through shoe soles. Children and pets are more likely to ingest the pesticides, because they play on the floor.
The American Journal of Public Health reported a study from Denver which revealed that children whose yards were treated with herbicides and insecticides had four times the risk of soft tissue sarcoma. Children exposed to home pest strips had twice the normal risk rate of leukemia. Fetuses exposed to home pest strips during the final three months of pregnancy had three times the normal rate of leukemia.
The chemicals dioxin and furan stay in their molecular form for over 20 years. If pesticides are used closer than 250 yards towards any well, the well water will be contaminated. Anywhere pesticides are used they seep into the soil and groundwater and destroy aquatic life forms.
Joe Pickering, a 38 year old high school teacher, died in 1994 from a soft tissue sarcoma, which is rare for his young age. He was exposed to Weed-B-Gon, which contains dioxin. Weed-B-Gon is being manufactured by Chevron and sold as part of their Ortho line of gardening products. During the early 1970s Joe Pickering was employed by Chevron at their bottling plant in California where he was exposed to dioxin.
Four employees of a lumber mill in Northern California developed leukemia. They were exposed to pentachlorophenol through pressure treating lumber with the product “Woodlife”. (A very misleading name). Woodlife contains pentachlorophenol. The US EPA notes that malathion, a chemical ingredient in pesticides, depresses levels of the important nerve enzyme cholinesterase and classifies the chemical as a probable carcinogen. Five years ago the EPA determined that the pesticides azinphos methyl and phosmet pose unacceptable risks to workers who are exposed to them. These pesticides contain organophosphate neurotoxins, which are derived from nerve agents used by the Nazis during World War II. Organophosphate neurotoxins attack the human nervous system. Exposure can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, seizures, paralysis, loss of mental function and even death. They are still on the market because the Bush administration had ordered the EPA not to restrict their use. Chemicals declared safe by the EPA are not always safe.
In an interview with sciencewatch.com under the title Epigenetics from March 2009, Professor Dr. Michael K. Skinner, Center for Reproductive Biology, School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University, reported: “In our paper, we were exploring whether exposure to environmental compounds such as endocrine disruptors (either the anti-androgenic fungicide vinclozolin or the estrogenic pesticide methoxychlor) during gestation in rats would result in decreased spermatogenic capacity and increased male infertility in the next generation.” Although only one original mother rat was exposed to the compounds, the research group observed these effects in nearly all males of all the subsequent generations studied (up to four generations). These results have implications for toxicology, evolutionary biology, and the molecular basis of heritable disease. The research group showed that the potential danger of environmental toxicants known as endocrine disruptors could have long lasting and trans generational effects. They demonstrated that pesticide exposure could trigger an epigenetic change to a genetic trait. Exposure to pesticides during embryonic and fetal development can affect disease states in adults.
Our former Great Dane Samantha slipped on a person’s lawn in LA where pesticides had been sprayed. We saw people spray pesticides on this property just a few days before Samantha fell on their lawn. Samantha skinned her leg on the lawn and pesticide particles must have entered into the wound. A few months later she developed a tumor at the place where she skinned herself. The veterinarians said that the body can develop a tissue mass around invasive particles in the system in order to protect the system from the particles or toxins. Years later the tumor developed into a cancerous tumor, because it grew in size over the years. We did not have it removed because removal of tumors and even biopsies cause activation of metastases. Samantha died from cancer which had spread from the leg to the spleen after several years.
We witnessed city workers as well as gardeners for large corporations use pesticides on a large scale. We saw entire lawn areas littered with pesticide pellets. People walk their dogs on those lawn areas all the time. Why take this horrible risk of the dogs and us getting sick because of pesticides? This is not necessary at all. There are alternative solutions out there and its worth researching them:
Gardening does not require pesticides. You can pull weeds by hand, use weed whackers, lawn mowers or dig them out with a small shovel or spade. A variety of plants cultivated side by side balances the soil. Marigold and tomato planted in between help to repel insects. Ladybugs eat small invasive insects. A blend of water, biodegradable soap, hot peppers like cayenne, garlic, onions, olive oil, marigold, vinegar, whole grain flour, peppermint leaves/oil and tomato sprinkled on the plants and soil repels insects. This blend can be diluted with up to 80% water.
Cultivating plants native to your area, called permaculture, lowers the maintenance and costs your garden requires. Native plants usually need less water. They are already adapted to their environment and the insects that live in it. They have their own defense mechanisms. You can build a compost area to make your own healthy soil. Build walls a couple of feet high in a square to encase the compost space. Fill the compost area with organic matter like leaves, organic garbage from the kitchen like tea bags, coffee filters with the coffee grains, fruit peelings, seeds, moldy stuff, and you can even use animal dung (including dog poop), etc. Use anything for the compost that decomposes.
Make sure no chemicals end up in the compost. Dispose of any chemicals like pesticides, medicine, batteries, motor oil, etc., safely, through the hazardous waste disposal. Hazardous waste is very toxic, therefore it can not be disposed of in the regular trash container. Collect those items in a container labeled “Hazardous Waste”. Each community has their own hazardous waste pickup service or places. Internet and phone books will provide this information. (For Del Norte County: Del Norte Solid Waste (707) 465-1100).
The compost needs about a year to decompose into fertile soil. You will see lots of earth worms and other insects in your compost during the decomposition process. These animals are recycling the compost into very rich soil. When the material has become good smelling dark earth soil, you can bring it over to your plant beds to mix it in with the old soil. This provides a balanced supply of nutrients and trace elements in a form that is readily available to plants. The ongoing biodegradation of organic matter replenishes and maintains long term soil fertility by providing optimal conditions for soil biological activity.
Healthy soil is a combination of minerals, rock, water, air, organic matter (plant and animal residue), microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and protozoa and a variety of insects and worms. This intricate web carries out a process that continually replenishes the soil and maintains long-term soil fertility. Plants require macro-nutrients and trace elements. Macro-nutrients include nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S). Trace elements include iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn). The biodegraded matter from the compost is capable of storing these nutrients and transferring them to the root surface for uptake by plants.