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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

July 24, 2003

Grenfell College
discontinuing use of pesticides

Pesticides are poisons that are designed to kill various plants and animals. They contain active ingredients which kill the particular organism, as well as inert ingredients that often make up over 90 per cent of the product. Many of these inert ingredients are carcinogenic, and toxic to humans and the environment.

Deirdre Andrews, Environmental Auditor at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, says that this is part of the reason why Grenfell has decided to stop using outdoor pesticides.

“Pesticides are poisons so there can be many environmental and health dangers including skin, eye and breathing difficulties,” she said.

Research has also found other potential health effects of common pesticides. A National Cancer Institute study showed that children are up to six times more likely to get leukemia when pesticides are used in the home and garden. Another report from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that non-Hodgkins lymphoma may be linked to pesticide exposure. And, according to a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, more children with brain tumours and other cancers were found to have had exposure to insecticides than those without cancer.

Besides the health risks, there were other motivations for Grenfell to stop the use of pesticides on its grounds.

“Grenfell chose not to put chemicals into the environment unnecessarily, making another step toward environmental excellence,” says Ms. Andrews, adding that there are many safe, and cheap alternatives to pesticides.

She says spraying soapy water on trees and shrubs is an effective way to get rid of many pests. She also advises using this solution to kill earwigs upon contact, and using talcum powder to kill ants.

The Humber Environmental Action Group suggests several steps to non-toxic lawn care, including mowing high, raking, leaving grass clipping on the lawn and top-dressing the lawn with compost.

Ms. Andrews hopes Grenfell College’s actions will set an example for the rest of the community.

“Hopefully once others realize that Grenfell doesn’t use pesticides and the grounds are still beautiful, they will also stop using these chemicals,” she said.




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