Pesticides: Methods to Defend Your Household, Pets and Crops

Pesticides: How to Protect Your Family, Pets and Plants

Q: I live in Westchester County, N.Y. and received a notice from my neighbors that they will be using commercial pesticides on their lawns. I have young children, a dog, and a large vegetable garden, and I am concerned that the pesticides will drift onto my property and harm them all. How concerned should I be and what can I do to protect my family?

ON: According to Westchester's 2000 Neighbors Reporting Act, the notification you received should include the names of the pesticides used and the name and contact information of the company using them. The law requires commercial processors and homeowners who use their services, with a few exceptions, to give local residents 48 hours notice before applying pesticides.

Start your research. Enter the name of each chemical in, a database created by the Pesticide Action Network, an advocacy group, or call the National Pesticide Information Center helpline at 800-858-7378. Once you know the risks of the chemicals used, you can decide your next steps.

“You have to know what you're working with,” says Margaret Reeves, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network in Berkeley, California. "If you know that, you can see the effects on different organisms."

Depending on the type of pesticide and the proximity of your property to your neighbors and whether there is a barrier like a fence, you may need to take steps to protect your immediate area. Warren Hanson, a pesticide specialist at the National Pesticide Information Center, suggests bringing your dog's water bowl and your children's toys. Close the windows and stay away from the grass for a day or two. "Everyone can have a different sensitivity to pesticides," he said.

You may also want to cover your vegetable garden. Whenever possible, Dr. Reeves, wear gloves when removing the cover and dispose of them carefully.

Keep in mind that these are probably not the only pesticides used in your neighborhood. The Notification Act provides significant exemptions, including those for granular pesticides, injections directly into the plant or soil, and emergency and point applications. Homeowners who apply their own pesticides without hiring a professional don't need to let their neighbors know.

You may want to raise the problem with your neighbors as they may follow a professional's guidance without worrying too much about the problem. Approach the conversation the way a friendly neighbor speaks to another, remembering that pesticides are legal and your neighbors have the right to treat their property. Suggest safer alternatives, such as: B. an integrated pest control approach. Beyond Pesticides, an advocacy group, offers organic lawn care alternatives on their website.

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