By Arthur Williams
The Canadian Cancer Society is asking city to ban the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens, citing serious health risks associated with the chemicals.
Young children and pregnant women are most at risk from the chemicals used to control weeds, fungus and insects, Canadian Cancer Society spokeswoman Kerensa Medhurst said.
"People love their green lawns. [But] as people become aware of the health impacts... it hasn't taken a lot of work to get people engaged," Medhurst said. "Over 70 per cent of Canadians are already protected by bylaws or provincial law."
The cosmetic use of pesticides have been banned in Quebec since 2006. Ontario banned it in 2009 and New Brunswick and PEI followed suit in 2010. Nova Scotia is considering a ban this year.
In addition, 160 communities in Canada have banned or restricted pesticide use - including Terrace, which recently adopted a ban.
"We use a precautionary approach. There is no health benefit, but there is risks," Medhurst said. "Children who have prenatal exposure have two to three times greater chances of developing leukemia."
Children are the most at risk from pesticides used on lawns and gardens.
"Their immune systems aren't as developed. And they're right on the grass, and putting things in their mouths," she said.
The World Health Organization found farmers who routinely use the pesticide 2,4-D have six times the chance of developing non-Hodgekins lymphoma as the general population. Studies have linked pesticides to cancers of the prostate, kidney, brain and lungs, she said, as well as other health problems such as hormone and neurological disruption.
The B.C. Lung Association, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, UBC Faculty of Medicine and numerous other groups support the ban, Medhurst added.
In Canada pesticides are regulated by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency. According to the agency's website, it supports the reduction of pesticide use and advises caution be taken to avoid exposure for pregnant women, infants and children.
"If you choose to use pesticides, use products only for their registered and intended uses while carefully following the directions on the label," the agency website said. "Minimize exposure to yourself and others by only using pesticides when necessary."
City council will consider the issue on Monday's regular council issue.
Source: The Prince George Citizen