Friday, July 15, 2011

Newfoundland and Labrador joins provinces outlawing cosmetic pesticides on lawns

July 14, 2011,

Newfoundland and Labrador joins provinces outlawing cosmetic pesticides on lawns

by Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador intends to join the growing ranks of provinces that have banned the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides on household lawns.

Environment Minister Ross Wiseman says products including 2,4-D, carbaryl, mecoprop, dicamba and MCPA would be outlawed as of next year's lawn care season.

The ban would not affect what Wiseman said is necessary and controlled pesticide use in agriculture, along roadways, transmission lines or on golf courses.

Violators could face fines, and lawn care companies who've opposed such a ban will not be compensated, he told a news conference Thursday.

"As a government, we have carefully looked at all aspects of the pesticide debate and have made the decision to ban the sale and use of these particular products."

Residential use of cosmetic weed killers has dropped in recent years, Wiseman said.

"Good business people respond to changes in the market (and) develop products that respond to consumer demands, so many of these businesses will diversify. I acknowledge, though, that in the onset some of them will have an impact as they adjust to the new reality."

The Progressive Conservative government has been under increasing pressure to ban cosmetic weed killers in neighbourhoods. The Opposition Liberals and a local group called the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticide said they'd make it an issue in the provincial election set for Oct. 11.

Wiseman denied that election timing pushed the government's hand. Rather, he said the province took the time it needed to assess available research and the action taken in other parts of the country.

Pesticide makers and lawn care companies point out that Health Canada has specifically said 2,4-D is safe if used as directed. Its website says it made the finding after reviewing extensive scientific literature, "some of which suggested weak associations to adverse health effects, while others suggested no link to the use of 2,4-D.

"The agency also reviewed the extensive database of toxicology information that specifically looked for the potential to cause adverse effects such as cancer."

Still, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, has classed the pesticide as a possible human carcinogen with potential links to hormonal effects and other health issues.

Five Canadian provinces — Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island — have banned the use of 2,4-D on lawns. British Columbia and Manitoba are also considering bans.

Wiseman said it's important that residents have some control when it comes to pesticide exposure.

"People have a choice to play or not to play," he said of golf courses. "Whereas in a residential neighbourhood, if you happen to be living next door to someone who's using the product, you don't have a choice. You've been exposed to it ... you just can't pack up your suitcase and move the next day."

Wiseman says the need for household lawn pesticides can be reduced by using more topsoil and improved planting methods. He said pesticide alternatives such as insecticidal soaps, corn gluten meal and acetic acid can help control weeds.

St. John's City Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary welcomed the ban but said it's long overdue. Voters have repeatedly expressed their support through petitions and calls for action, she said.

"There has been conclusive research to show linkages to cancer, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and Parkinson's disease," she told reporters. "This is stuff that has been established for quite some time and more and more research continues to unfold.

"So why are we taking the risks? I think it's fantastic that we have eliminated just another environmental hazard in our province."

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