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My Pledge to Garden Without Toxic Chemicals

An unknown amount of toxic chemicals are applied to lawns and gardens by homeowners on the east end. Is the benefit of the toxic chemicals worth the cost to the environment and us?

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published 50 years ago. We have learned so much from Ms. Carson including why it is so important to test and understand the safety profile of toxic chemicals used to control weeds and pests in the environment. We are so fortunate to have abundant ospreys, great blue herons, hawks, woodpeckers and other birds thriving on the east end. Still, there is an alarming rate of cancer and other diseases in humans that could be associated with exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment.

How much toxic chemicals are applied to our gardens and lawns? As I work in my garden near the Little Peconic Bay on Tuesday, I am alone. The seasonal homeowners have not opened their homes yet. I hear loons and osprey as I hang hummingbird feeders. Then a truck pulls into a neighbor’s driveway. The workers apply generous quantities of Round Up to the gravel driveway. Minutes after they leave, a truck pulls in to another neighbor's house. These workers  apply Rodent Rid, digging holes and pouring the granules into the holes in an attempt to control moles and voles that are so prevalent in our neighborhood. Rodent Rid contains Zinc phosphide, in wet conditions it creates toxic phosphine gas. Repeat these scenes by the number of houses in our community. That could amount to quite a load on the bays and aquifers. Is the benefit of these chemicals worth the risks to our health? Do those of us who live so close to the wetlands, have a special responsibility to avoid contaminating the wetlands?

I have taken a pledge to not use toxic chemicals in my garden. That was two years ago. My lawn and gardens look as good as those of my neighbors using toxic chemicals. Perhaps you would like to join me in this pledge, in honor of Rachel Carson, in gratitude to the earth.

Patch suggests you also read:

Eco-East Enders to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring'

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David D'Agostino April 27, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Patrice, I am with you. I never use any chemicals on my lawn, shrubs, trees or garden and each year my garden thrives!
Deborah Klughers April 27, 2012 at 09:45 PM
I am with you! Stop poisoning the planet. Don’t forget the harmful effect that pesticides have on beneficial insects like honeybees, ladybugs and praying mantis! Not to mention these chemicals seep into our groundwater! According to the EPA, “Approximately 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States. Pesticide is a broad term that includes any agent used to kill or control undesired insects, weeds, rodents, fungi, bacteria, or other organisms. Pesticides are classified according to their function: insecticides control insects; rodenticides control rodents; herbicides control weeds; and fungicides control fungi, mold and mildew. Herbicides are the most widely used type of pesticide in agriculture.” 5.1 BILLION POUNDS every year……… wow.
Patrice Dalton April 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Thanks David and Deborah, I am glad to know there are kindred spirits on the east end!
Dr. Sarah Alward April 28, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Beautifully written Patrice! I'm with you!
Patrice Dalton April 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Interesting story in today's LA Times, "At least eight veterinary workers have been poisoned by exposure to potentially lethal phosphine gas when dogs being treated for ingesting pest-killing chemicals have thrown up in their offices, and health officials suspect there may be other unreported cases as well. All of the human victims recovered with no lasting effects, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that more serious incidents could occur and cautioned veterinarians to be alert. Zinc phosphide is a widely used rodent killer. When it is ingested, contact with stomach acid and water produces phosphine gas, which is highly toxic. If the animals are induced to regurgitate the poison -- standard procedure -- phosphine gas can be released into the office, exposing workers."
Barry Terenna April 28, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I agree Patrice. People might think twice if they realized how damaging these pesticides and herbicides are to beneficial organisms. It is voices like you're that help to educate. Wonderful. Keep up the good work.
Pat Burke Frost April 28, 2012 at 01:45 PM
We don't use anything on our grass except water..My dogs run around back there and I don't want them to get any diseases that could be possibly prevented.
Aspatuck Gardens April 29, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Pro Tip: Looking for an organic way to kill pesky weeds? Horticultural Vinegar (plain vinegar works as well). Want to dissuade the moles and voles from tearing up your garden? Castor Oil (best applied in granular form). .Great Article!
Rick Hoyt April 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Would Be Great If There Was a Way To Ask People Who Have Properties With-In a Quarter Of A Mile From Shorelines,Lakes, Estuaries To Volunteer Not To Use Round-Up, Tick Spraying on Their Properties.Thank You Aspatuck, We Hand Pull Weeds Ourselves, But Will Try The Granulated Castor ! Thanks Patrice !
Patrice Dalton April 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Thank you for the tips! I think it would be great if we had a place to share information such as this and set up a facebook group called Organic Gardeners of the East End. Please join the group.
Evelyn O'Doherty April 29, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Great pledge! I'm in!!! I also think having a forum to discuss organic solutions would be helpful in leveraging the masses. Thanks for starting this conversation, Patrice!
Deborah Klughers April 29, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Please take five minutes to contact your senators & tell them to protect our waterways and wildlife from unregulated pesticide pollution. Sen.Chuck Schumer/Phone:(202) 224-6542/Fax:(202) 228-3027 Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand /Phone:(202) 224-4451/Fax:(202) 228-0282 From the Center for Biological Diversity “A new bill, H.R. 872, would allow unregulated pesticide applications & has already passed in the House of Representatives. Many pesticides are linked to higher cancer rates & other serious health risks in people. Fish & amphibian populations have been devastated by these toxins, which can be the last straw for endangered species already in crisis. Reject the Senate’s Pesticide Rider!” Follow this link to take action http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10272 Or go here for more information http://www.biologicaldiversity.org PANNA is a good resource: http://www.panna.org “Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN North America, or PANNA) works to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound & socially just alternatives. As one of five PAN Regional Centers worldwide, we link local & international consumer, labor, health, environment & agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health & environmental quality, & works to ensure the transition to a just & viable society.” Just say NO to PESTICIDES!!
Kara Billingham, Owner - The Yoga House May 01, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Patrice - great article! Thank you for raising such an important awareness. I am in close proximity also to neighbors with yellow warning signs on their lawns (after having been chemical-ized). It's not only the waterways I want to bring to the attention of the senators etc... but also the health and welfare of our children walking home from the school bus/playing in the neighborhood, and our pets going on their routine outings. Thanks again Patrice! I will look for that facebook group.
Deborah Klughers May 01, 2012 at 11:22 PM
You are supposed to get notice by the professional applicator at least 48 hours prior to the spraying of pesticides. The Neighbor Notification of Pesticide Spraying Law went into effect in New York on March 1, 2001. For more information.... http://www.longislandnn.org/pesticides/alert_nn2.htm

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