Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I don't use Pesticides

Ortho's Bug b Gon
This is an article I wrote last year.  I think it is very important to consider...

This Spring, my sister in law was telling me about her garden.  Her most alarming story was the day she found aphids on her roses and decided to spray them.  She found a container of Sevin in the garage, and after reading the label decided that it was too much trouble to cover her entire body in protective clothing and don a respirator and rubber gloves.  A few minutes after spraying the aphids she could taste the Sevin in her mouth.  It had quickly been absorbed by her skin as that is how it works.  She felt a little dizzy, queasy, and had to go lay down. 

I decided to look up the more popular pesticides for garden use and see what kind of articles I could find.  I found an interesting range of results, the manufacturers downplaying the risks while other studies posed serious questions about the risks to humans.  Aside from that it was obvious that these pesticides are highly toxic to bees, bird and aquatic life. 

Here are some of the things I found:

“One of the rites of spring is planting those first bulbs or seeds in anticipation of a flourishing garden during the warmer months.  But backyard pests, who have spent the winter eagerly waiting to ravage your garden, also look forward to blooming flowers and tasty vegetables.  Fortunately, with the proper knowledge and techniques, your garden will flourish and be insect-free.”

From  We Call it Magic Dust
tchoate's Full Review: Sevin-10 Bug Killer Dust
Is it Magic Dust? I think so, and would like to tell you why.

We live in East Texas were it is hot, dry and the bugs just seem to love my garden. We plant a fairly nice size garden every spring and we seem to fight ants, worms, lady bugs and many other garden variety type of insects. We have used Sevin-10 on our garden for the last three years.

We start by using this as soon as our plants are in the ground. We sprinkle the Sevin-10 on the ground around the plants. As the plants grow, we begin to sprinkle the Sevin-10 on the leaves of the plant and the ground. We immediately notice that the bugs begin to fly away as we are sprinkling. I am not sure that this magic dust kills the bugs, but it sure seems to repel them from the plants.

Since beginning to use Sevin-10 our gardens have seemed to have less bugs. We usually have to retreat about every 14 days, after that length of time we see that the bugs seem to be coming back. We grow tomatoes, onions, beans, and okra, Sevin-10 has not ever harmed any of these plants. But it has protected them from the worms that tend to love my tomatoes, and the bugs that love my beans and okra.

Well now that I have told you what we originally bought this Magic Dust for let me tell you of a few other uses that we have found for it. We have 2 blue heeler dogs that live outside. The fleas for some reason tend to really be attracted to these two animals. We have taken our Sevin-10 and sprinkled it directly on the dogs and rubbed it into their hair and it works great. The fleas leave them alone for about 14 days until it is time for bath day and another treatment. I did question my vet and he said as long as we keep it out of their eyes that it would not hurt them. This is definitely a cheaper way to treat our outside dogs than the high priced flea medicine that didn't seem to work. We also sprinkle it around where they lay and sleep to help keep that area flea free also.

From Wikipedia:
Carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate) is a chemical in the carbamate family used chiefly as an insecticide. It is a colorless white crystalline solid. It is commonly sold under the brand name Sevin, a trademark of the Bayer Company. Originally, Union Carbide discovered carbaryl and introduced it commercially in 1958, and it remains the third-most-utilized insecticide in the United States for home gardens, commercial agriculture, and forestry and rangeland protection. Bayer purchased Aventis CropScience in 2002, a company that included Union Carbide pesticide operations.
Its safety is somewhat controversial. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor and can be toxic to humans with excessive exposure, though no known fatalities have been reported. It is classified as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA. It kills various beneficial insect and crustacean species along with the pests it is intended for, so care must be taken when spraying in areas where such species are present. Carbaryl is acutely toxic to honeybees and can destroy colonies of bees that are foraging in an area where the chemical has been applied.

From the Sevin product label:
We do know that carbaryl is quite toxic to honey bees, certain beneficial insects such as lady beetles, and parasitic wasps and bees, certain species of aquatic insects, and some forms of shellfish such as shrimp and crabs. Care must be taken when using carbaryl in areas where these organisms exist.

Malathion is a pesticide that is widely used in agriculture, residential landscaping, public recreation areas, and in public health pest control programs such as mosquito eradication.[2] In the US, it is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide. [3]

Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
The general population is probably not exposed to malathion regularly. However, malathion is used to treat head lice on humans, to kill fleas on pets, and to kill insects in gardens. Exposure to malathion may also occur at farms where it has been sprayed on crops. Exposure to high amounts of malathion can cause difficulty breathing, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, blurred vision, sweating, headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and possibly death. This chemical has been found in at least 21 of the 1,636 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  .    Effects on birds: Malathion is moderately toxic to birds.
  .    Effects on aquatic organisms: Malathion has a wide range of toxicities in fish, extending from very highly toxic in the walleye (96-hour LC50 of 0.06 mg/L) to highly toxic in brown trout (0.1 mg/L) and the cutthroat trout (0.28 mg/L), moderately toxic in fathead minnows (8.6 mg/L) and slightly toxic in goldfish (10.7 mg/L) [13,8,16]. Various aquatic invertebrates are extremely sensitive, with EC50 values from 1 ug/L to 1 mg/L [28]. Malathion is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and to the aquatic stages of amphibians. Because of its very short half-life, malathion is not expected to bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms. However, brown shrimp showed an average concentration of 869 and 959 times the ambient water concentration in two separate samples [12].

Dursban is a product name for the chemical chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is one of the class of chemicals known as organophosphates. These are complex chemicals widely used as pesticides in agriculture. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that approximately 60 million pounds of organophosphates will be applied to approximately 60 million acres of crops in the United States this year. Dursban also has been used in pesticide sprays for residential and institutional use, including the sprays used by professional exterminators.

From a CNN report. 
“But after a lengthy review, the EPA concluded that chlorpyrifos -- sold by Dow AgroSciences under the trade names Dursban and Lorsban -- poses a risk to children because of its potential effects on the nervous system and possibly brain development.”


Diazinon (O,O-diethyl-O-(2-isopropyl-6-methyl-pyrimidine-4-yl)phosphorothioate), a colorless to dark brown liquid, is a thiophosphoric acid ester developed in 1952 by Ciba-Geigy, a Swiss chemical company (later Novartis and then Syngenta). It is a nonsystemic organophosphate insecticide formerly used to control cockroaches, silverfish, ants, and fleas in residential, non-food buildings. Bait was used to control scavenger wasps in the western U.S. Residential uses of diazinon were cancelled in 2004; it is still approved for agricultural uses.

Clemson University Pesticide Information Program:
DIAZINON is the most widely used pesticide by homeowners on lawns, and is one of the most widely used pesticide ingredients for application around the home and in gardens. It is used to control insects and grubs. The agreement betwen EPA and diazinon manufacturers (5 December 2000), Syngenta and Makhteshim Agan, will eliminate 75 percent of the use which amounts to more than 1 million pounds of the pesticide used annually. Diazinon's use on turf poses a risk to birds, and it is one of the most commonly found pesticides in air, rain, and drinking and surface water.

Department of Health and Human Services:
Diazinon affects the nervous system in children and adults alike. Some mild symptoms of exposure are headache, dizziness, weakness, feelings of anxiety, constriction of the pupils of the eye, and not being able to see clearly. More severe symptoms include nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, slow pulse, diarrhea, pinpoint pupils, difficulty breathing, and passing out (coma). Very high exposure to diazinon can result in death.

  .    What advice does EPA have to consumers regarding disposal of any unwanted or unused diazinon product?
  .    Consumers who chose to dispose of remaining diazinon products rather than use them up should contact their state or local hazardous waste disposal program or local solid waste collection service for information on proper disposal in their community. Consumers who have opened containers should be informed that the pesticide is potentially harmful to the environment, and should not be disposed of in sinks, toilets, storm drains, or any body of water. 

The local government may recommend that consumers take diazinon products to a household hazardous waste collection site.
Acephate (Orthene)
Acephate is an organophosphate foliar insecticide of moderate persistence with residual systemic activity of about 10-15 days at the recommended use rate. It is used primarily for control of aphids, including resistant species, in vegetables (e.g. potatoes, carrots, greenhouse tomatoes, and lettuce) and in horticulture (e.g. on roses and greenhouse ornamentals). It also controls leaf miners, caterpillars, sawflies and thrips in the previously stated crops as well as turf, and forestry.
Oregon State University Extension Toxicology Network
Organ Toxicity: Exposure effects of acephate in humans can include: cardiac responses (bradycardia/tachycardia, heart block), central nervous system impairment, eye problems (miosis/mydriasis, loss of accommodation, ocular pain, sensation of retrobulbar pressure, tearing, dark or blurred vision, conjunctiva hyperemia, cataracts), gastrointestinal problems (abdominal cramps, heart burn, hyperperistalsis), respiratory effects (apnea, dyspnea, hypopnea, atelectasis, bronchoconstriction, bronchopharyngeal secretion, chest tightness, productive cough, rales/ronchi, wheezing, pulmonary edema, laryngeal spasms, rhinorrhea, oronasal frothing) and death due to respiratory failure (108).
One walk down the garden chemical aisle at Home Depot, with its awful smell, is enough to wean me from using these products.  I stopped using pesticides and herbicides several years ago out of concern for my personal health and that of the environment around me. 
Even if the negative affects were minimal to non existent, the manufacture of these chemicals is a very toxic one.  Many of the country’s Superfund sites were created by companies making pesticides and herbicides.  Monsanto, the maker of Roundup is linked to 56 superfund sites, those found to be the most toxic places in the United States.  Bayer Cropscience, the maker of Sevin, is linked to 26 sites.  Ortho, a division of Chevron Oil is responsible for a superfund site near Orlando, Florida.  3/4’s of a million people live within 10 miles of this site.
This is serious stuff, and as gardeners, we have the option of not using toxic chemicals in our gardens. Better to not buy them and properly dispose of what you have and live on a healthier planet.

  .    Disposal Contacts
                        To identify a local solid waste agency, consumers may look in the government section of the phone book under categories such as solid waste, public works, or garbage, trash, or refuse collection.
To identify your state pesticide disposal program coordinator, see

Aphids do not cause nausea and blurred vision, or kill amphibians, birds, or honeybees.  A strong jet of water will remove them and you wont feel sick afterwards.  Neither will your garden.


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