B.C.’s proposed pesticide regulations won’t protect children

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      On February 20, the B.C. government introduced a bill that will require everyone using pesticides on lawns and gardens to be licensed. The practical implication is that professional pesticide applicators will be able to spray weed-killers and insecticides on private residential property with impunity. The government suggests its proposed legislation will enhance public safety. We don’t agree. We believe that Bill 8 gives lawn companies, many of which are heavy users of pesticides, licence to spray at will.

      The government seems to believe that if poisons are used by licensed personnel they are acceptable. This is nonsense. Pesticides pose very significant health risks for people and the environment no matter who sprays them. Poisons don’t become benign just because the person using them has been instructed in their use.

      Scientific research done by family physicians shows that people exposed to pesticides are at greater risk for brain cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The science also shows that pesticide use is linked to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s. Children exposed to these chemicals are more likely to contract leukemia. Women exposed to high levels of pesticides during pregnancy are more likely to have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reduced IQ. Exposed children are also at increased risk for asthma.  If pesticides are now implicated in the rise of these tragic childhood ailments, it should concern us all.

      The Ministry of Environment says its new bill will “ensure cosmetic pesticides are being used safely and responsibly. This misses the point. Pesticides cannot be made safe. They are designed to kill; that’s what their “-cide” suffix is all about. The government is misleading British Columbians by appearing to enhance public health when in fact it is not.

      The only way to protect British Columbians is to reduce synthetic lawn pesticide usage to zero. But Bill 8 won’t do this. And it makes no mention of a future phase-out. On the contrary, it sets out conditions (namely licensing) that will allow companies to spray these chemicals in perpetuity.

      Is it practical to ban lawn-pesticide use by all parties? Ontario certainly thinks so. It has had a comprehensive prohibition in this area since 2009 and the law is working extremely well. Retailers are now selling non-toxic products and lawn-care firms are making good money offering pesticide-free services. Some are even creating new jobs because organic landscaping is more labour-intensive than its chemical counterpart. 

      Ontario’s ban is also proving to be very helpful environmentally. Research done by the province found that, following the legislation’s implementation, concentrations of lawn pesticides in urban streams dropped dramatically. In some waterways, for example, the amount of 2,4-D weed-killer was down 94 percent.

      B.C. should scrap this bill and instead legislate a true banone that would require both homeowners and lawn companies to use kid-friendly, non-toxic products. To bring that point home, this week the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and its partners are launching a provincewide advertising campaign. The ads feature the names of over 100 doctors and nurses who support a strong pesticide prohibition. 

      If we want to protect our kidsnot to mention our lakes, drinking water, and beloved family petswe need to listen to our health professionals. And the latter are saying with one firm and credible voice: "Ban the use and sale of lawn pesticides across B.C."




      Mar 11, 2013 at 7:13pm

      How did our perants ever raise us,? We had leaded paint,DDT,pencils with real lead,we played in the park till supper time,we ran with scissors.Now we can HIRE someone to spray our lawn and bushes if they are attact by pests,because we the people cant manage the sprays.

      Cameron Winters

      Mar 11, 2013 at 7:42pm

      I am sick and tired of people whinning about everything. People get a life.

      Wameron Cinters

      Mar 12, 2013 at 12:28am

      I am whining about people whining. Hypocrisy abounds.

      K. Jean Cottam, PhD

      Mar 12, 2013 at 5:33am

      I am sick and tired about people whining about people whining. Get a life; inform yourself about the poisons that are stuffed down your throat and down your brain. Some of these poisons were invented for use on the battlefield and not for poisoning people in suburbia! What you deserve is having pesticides for lunch, supper and breakfast. I am no more silly than the vast majority of people that put up with this outrage. I am not wasting any more time on the likes of you.

      K. Jean Cottam, PhD

      Mar 12, 2013 at 5:40am

      How did our parents ever raised us? In my case, I was never exposed to any poisons as a child and apparently didn't chew leaded pencils. I doubt that I am an exception. On the other hand, there are those who were and now suffer the consequences. No one can manage the sprays. They manage you. It is a silly myth that pesticides become safe when sprayed by a trained pesticide applicator. Pesticides remain toxic regardless of who applies them.


      Mar 12, 2013 at 8:45am

      I'd love to see this scientific evidence/link that every one of these tree huggers is talking about. Even the infamous CAPE cant show us this evidence. Therefore, they have no right speaking on something of this magnitude.

      Colin M

      Mar 12, 2013 at 10:25am

      How about some links to claimed research?? Most of these studies are not of actual products used or flawed and rejected epidemiology. I guess GP's are better interpreters of these studies than toxicologists or epidemiologists. All pest control products are not created equal and should be treated on a case by case basis - just like they are. Pesticides being broadly labelled poison is simple fear mongering.

      colleen moore

      Mar 12, 2013 at 12:34pm

      BC Liberals don't care about children. It is easier to bury them than take responsibility for young children who are vulnerable to poison and governments choices.
      How does that go again "A child or two a day keeps the vultures gay as regulators turn the other way.

      Cody Cruise

      Mar 12, 2013 at 1:53pm

      Why don't they use a real pesticide can for the picture. What they have there is a generic can. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) require that labels be affixed to every type of container that contains a pesticide. The registered label must also show the Pest Control Products (PCP) registration number. As well, pesticides registered by the PMRA are deemed safe to people, animals and the environment WHEN USED AS DIRECTED ON THE LABEL!!!!! Too many people have the thinking that if XX amount of chemical will work, then if I use XXXX amount of chemical it`ll work even better. This is were the problem lies, in people that either do not read and understand the label, or are ignorant and think they know better or more than the many highly trained scientists and evaluators employed by Health Canada and PMRA.

      Martin Dunphy

      Mar 12, 2013 at 3:25pm

      In many cases it matters not a whit what is contained on the label. Go here for a very brief overview of only some of the health concerns in Canada regarding pesticide exposure and numerous human cancers, fertility problems, and other illnesses. (The pesticide-industry posters above can go out for a smoke break instead.)