Planting, treating, mowing, bug-killing, watering—and repeating—can seem like a full-time job for folks with yards. However, the origins of lawn maintenance are more evil than a gleaming lawn might imply. Fertilizer became popular after World War II, when manufacturers that produced massive amounts of nitrogen for bombs switched that capability to agriculture.
Pesticides and other lawn treatments have developed since then, with newer, safer options. Nonetheless, most of what people use in their backyards now involves potentially dangerous chemicals. These toxins have been related to cancer and other diseases in humans and animals. Yard nutrient runoff may also have a negative influence on the ecosystem.
What are the different types of lawn treatments?
Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides are some of the things that people might use on their lawns. Each has a distinct purpose. Fertilizers are used to supply nutrients to the soil, whilst herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides are used to control weeds, plant and animal pests, and bugs, respectively.
Can lawn fertilizer and other treatments make you or your pets sick?
In recent years, a variety of chemicals used in lawn-care products have been scrutinized for their possible health effects, notably the herbicides glyphosate and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. (more commonly known as 2,4-D). Ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact may all lead to exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to high levels of one or both of the substances may cause nausea, vomiting, and respiratory problems.
Glyphosate is the major active component of Roundup, one of the world’s most frequently used weed killers. While the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in a 2020 report that there is “no evidence that glyphosate causes cancer in humans,” the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the compound as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” A 2019 meta-analysis of research on the issue discovered that glyphosate exposure was linked to an elevated risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a kind of blood cancer, in people.
Are lawn fertilizers and other treatments bad for the environment?
Scientists are concerned about fertilizer because rain may wash it from farmers’ fields or neighborhood lawns into rivers, which can ultimately bring the pollution into the seas. Although the agriculture industry is the biggest perpetrator on this front owing to the large amount of fertilizer used, the mechanics are similar for treatments used at home.
Nitrogen and phosphate are two key components of fertilizer that are used to enhance plant development. However, when they enter streams, they may cause algae to flourish, especially poisonous algae, and oxygen levels in the water to plunge, making it impossible for much aquatic life to survive. Crop fertilizer pollution, for example, has led to a huge “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.