Doctor’s Orders: Stop Spraying Pesticides Around Your Children

The province of Winnepeg in Canada is one of the last major holdouts of the nation’s pesticide revolution that began in Hudson, Quebec, in 1985.

In Canada, the vast majority of the population — more than 80 percent — lives in municipalities where weed killers are banned for “cosmetic” purposes. In other words, you can’t apply Roundup and weed ‘n feed just because you don’t like the appearance of a dandelion.

The province of Manitoba has recently taken up that conversation in earnest. Here, in this column in a Winnepeg newspaper, a local physician speaks out:

By Dr. Debbie Pollock

As a medical doctor, I feel a responsibility not only to improve the health of my individual patients but to help protect the health of our community by protecting the larger environment. As the mother of an eight-year-old boy, I feel that it is important to protect my son from unnecessary exposure to toxic lawn and garden pesticides in the environment.

Six provinces — Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador — and 160 municipalities have already implemented a cosmetic pesticide ban. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has led an extremely successful anti-pesticide campaign across Canada in recent years.

Now, Manitobans, have the opportunity to support a ban on cosmetic lawn and garden pesticides in our province. The Manitoba government has released a discussion paper regarding a potential ban on non-essential pesticides entitled Play it Safe: A Consultation on Cosmetic Lawn Pesticides. The deadline for public consultation is Oct. 1.

Why should we ban cosmetic pesticide use in Manitoba?

Pesticides are toxic chemicals that harm human health and the environment. Pesticides are among the most widely used chemicals in the world and also among the most dangerous to human health. Pesticides for lawn and garden care are a broad range of chemicals that include: herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. They are a leading cause of poisonings here in Canada and have been estimated to account for thousands of deaths each year globally.

The pesticide literature review released by the Ontario College of Family Physicians in 2012, showed “consistent associations between reproductive, respiratory and neurological problems in humans and pesticide exposure.” Also, the current body of knowledge suggests a connection between pesticides and cancer.

To finish reading the column, click here: