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.
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