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Do you think the City Commission should ban the use of pesticides in city parks?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 29, 2005

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Photo of Kyle Dehaven

“I think they should use more discretion, but not necessarily ban them.”

Photo of Thomas Smith

“They should ban them if someone can come up with an alternative instead of just letting the parks grow wild.”

Photo of Regina Van Rees

“No. They don’t use a lot of pesticides as it is. They use a limited amount and are very careful where they spray.”

Photo of Brian Jordan

“I would say no, because the parks should be presentable and not overgrown. Perhaps they should just cut back and use less of them.”


BunE 13 years, 2 months ago

That is the funniest thing I have read all month.

Punkin 13 years, 2 months ago

Banning pesticides from Lawrence's parks is a good idea, and one that is long overdue.

Children's behavior can increase their exposure to pesticides. Young children, sitting on lawns and in parks -which may have been treated with pesticides, are at great risk. They wash their hands infrequently and explore their environment with hands and mouth, increasing their exposure to pesticide residues in that environment.

The common herbicide, 2,4-D, is widely used on residential lawns, soccer fields, and public greenspaces including parks. This herbicide has been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other soft tissue sarcomas.

Children with soft tissue sarcoma (including lymphoma) are more likely to live in homes with pesticide treated yards, according to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, "Home Pesticide Use and Childhood Cancer" - Leiss, Savitz 1995, 85:249-252.

Sakuraba 13 years, 2 months ago

FYI original bob, pesticides are defined as any toxic substance used to kill animals or plants that cause economic damage to crop or ornamental plants or are hazardous to the health of domestic animals or humans. All pesticides interfere with normal metabolic processes in the pest organism and often are classified according to the type of organism they are intended to control.

I think you are thinking, well I guess thinking is a strong word, of insecticides.

Nice try to make yourself sound smart at someone else's expense. Does it make you feel better about yourself to point out the shortcomings of others.

Hey, I guess I do feel better. Thanks for the new hobby.

jwseele 13 years, 2 months ago

If in fact pesticides were a hazard to humans or animals i think there would have been a ban along time ago.

neopolss 13 years, 2 months ago


This city commission has their priority views way out of focus. This elitist group has lost all touch of reality and common sense. Why is it that the more book smart one becomes, the quicker they are to lose common sense and logic?

I'm dodging potholes left and right, trying to salvage the struts on my car, and the biggest concern is roundabouts and park "pesticides."

Let's have everyone in Lawrence bring $10 to downtown and we'll light the whole pile on fire. It would at least be a better waste of our money.

In an effort to make our city "special," "unique," and "charming," this commission has done a great job at making this city "suck."

I'm not the only one sick of the war cry "public health!" as the basis of every movement being performed.

lunacydetector 13 years, 2 months ago

enviro-mental wackos have taken charge, i keep forgetting. ban pesticides that kill mosquitos that carry west nile virus, and ban herbicides to kill noxious weeds? surely you jest, but this is Lawrence - I KEEP FORGETTING!

if they are applied correctly, there shouldn't be a problem.

personally, i don't let my kids roll in the grass because i know what chiggers will do. they will bite and my child will be uncomfortable.

the problem is children aren't being supervised by their parent(s).

this issue is ridiculous.

There is an Ann Coulter meetup at KU tonight! KU seems quite sensitive about it.

Punkin 13 years, 2 months ago

This is EPA's definition:

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for:

preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.

Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests.

Under United States law, a pesticide is also any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.

neopolss 13 years, 2 months ago

What does the definition matter?

This issue is a complete waste of city resources and time.

Unless you plan on rolling in the grass or eating dirt for prolonged periods of time, you have nothing to worry about.

Just about anything can be linked to some disease or condition these days, so it really becomes a non-existant argument. I can link broccoli to cancer if I look hard enough.

Punkin 13 years, 2 months ago

Annually, 67 million pounds of lawn pesticides are used in and around homes and gardens, and in industrial, commercial and government settings. Suburban lawns and gardens receive far heavier pesticide applications per acre than most other land areas in the U.S., including agricultural areas.

The hazardous chemicals that are continually applied to our parklands, our lawns and our gardens have been found to be tracked into our homes. One recent study found residues of the toxic herbicide 2,4-D contaminating indoor air and surfaces, exposing children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels.

Such widespread use and exposure is alarming considering that of the 36 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 14 are probable or possible carcinogens. Additionally, 15 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 24 with neurotoxicity, 22 with liver or kidney damage, and 34 are sensitizers and/or irritants.

Here is a great link to more information on municipalities which have acted to limit pesticide usage within their community.

Sakuraba 13 years, 2 months ago

Sorry to get so snippy. Regardless of the definition, this is a really stupid proposal. There is no way that this would ever pass because of the golf courses. I don't know much about turf management, but I would think that trying to maintain a golf course would be impossible with out pesticides. This is the base of operations for the GCSAA, so I don't think we are going to see many dandy-lions or crab grass patches on our golf courses.

A compromise on the green spaces is the only possibility here. I don't think anyone really wants his or her kids or dogs playing in pesticides. At any rate, the commission doesn't just pull these issues out of thin air. Some concerned citizen or groups of citizens has to bring them to a head. Why blame the commission? The citizens are the ones who are wasting their time.

spongiform 13 years, 2 months ago

I think ticks and chiggers suck, so If they need to put small amounts of pesticides in the water to build up my resistance to the pesticide on the grass then I say DO IT!

Eric Beightel 13 years, 2 months ago

macon47 - parks are intended to preserve and maintain greenspace. It provides many indirect benefits so not everyone has to visit every park for them to experience the benefits of its existence. Percolation of rain water, natural barriers to intercept pollutants before they enter our waterways, etc. Parks are good and more is better.

Sakuraba - The article listed the proposal as all City Parks. Eagle Bend is a commercial enterpise for the city and thus not really considered a park. Nobody would be foolish enough to assume that the golf course would cease use of pesticides. It wouldn't be feasible.

As for the application of herbicides/insecticides/rodenticides/fungicides etc on city parks - I'm all for complete eradication where feasible. Noxious weeds require treatment, there is little that you can do about that. County code is county code and you have to kill the musk thistle or be fined. Otherwise, proper integrated pest management can take care of most if not all concerns and a good public education program - which could easily be accomplished using the funds set aside for pesticide application - can change people's perception of a healthy greenspace. This would start to reduce the negative opinions of having dandelions for example.

Anything the city can do to reduce its environmental impact is something that everyone should support.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 2 months ago

I've got an idea...

Let's get a referendum on the ballot that BANS the city commission. That way, we won't have to get upset over their new "cause of the week". I'm all for the smoking ban but I really don't need a babysitter.

As for the original question, I think that people get WAY too worked up over a few weeds. Why is it that a manicured lawn is only considered "perfect" if it contains none of the things that nature intended - grass, weeds, bugs, etc. Weeds are not bad things. In fact, there are some rather beautiful weeds out there that could help spice up the appeal of the parks.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 2 months ago

Over-the-Counter Herbicides Pose a Significant Threat of Soft-Tissue Sarcoma, Leukemia and Lymphoma By Richard Alexander, Esq.

In October, 1996 CNN reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had conducted a test of lawn herbicides and found that after outdoor spraying the level of contamination found INSIDE homes was TEN to ONE HUNDRED times stronger than what was found outside. Brought in on shoes and by pets, the floor and carpet concentrations were readily picked up by children from direct dermal contact as well as orally. In fact the video portion of the story showed four babies crawling on the floor and thoroughly mouthing every toy.

This report is indeed sobering, especially when it is known that one popular herbicide for many years contained high levels of dioxins.

On our webpage is a case report concerning Joe Pickering who died from a soft tissue sarcoma - very rare in a 40 year old - as a result of being exposed to dioxin laced "Weed B Gon" manufactured by Chevron and sold as part of its Ortho line of gardening products. Mr. Pickering, a 38 year old high school teacher, died in 1994. During the early 1970s he was employed by Chevron at its bottling plant in California and was exposed to Weed-B-Gon. The main ingredients of this herbicide during the early 1970s were 2,4 D and 2,4,5 TP.

A search of local homes in the South San Francisco Bay area produced twenty year old cans of Weed-B-Gon that when tested proved to be contaminated with dioxins and furans. Mr. Pickering died of a soft-tissue sarcoma which has been identified in medical literature as being associated with the contaminants found in this common household pesticide.

This is not the first case in which we have found "archived" samples of chemical carcinogens sitting on garage shelves. We successfully used the same protocol in our leukemia cluster in Northern California where we proved that dioxin laced pentachlorophenol was the cause of four leukemia illnesses in employees of a small lumber mill. In that case again the contaminated sample came from twenty year old buckets of Woodlife.

Weed B Gon found on the store shelf today is a much different formulation than what was sold in the past, but the untold story is that Weed B Gon using silvex was sold across the U.S. through 1980 and it was heavily contaminatedwith dioxins and furans.

Gardeners who regularly used the product and therefore had a chronic exposure are progressing towards a time when soft tissue sacrcomas, leukemia, and Non-Hodgkins Lymphomas, among others, may be presenting. The latency period is on the order of 10 to 20+ years. That's what we learned from the dioxin exposure to the residents of Seveso, Italy.

ayrcel 13 years, 2 months ago

Some pesticides the city uses are shaped like little round pellets, sometimes brightly colored. As a mother, I know what attracts my children's attention, little round brightly colored objects that might taste like sugar! Yes, they are very attractive to the little ones, so they pick them up and play with them and if they are young enough, try to eat them. And not everyone knows what these pellets are, including adults.

I also love dandilions. My children pick them with pleasure and look for them so that they can give me a bouquet, draw on the sidewalk and make yellow "paint", blow the seeds and make necklaces. I look forward to less monoculture and more diversity in the parks.

Change is the only constant in our world. I do not fear it.

Kaw Pickinton 13 years, 2 months ago

I would rather my kids play in sand with a dandilion in it than sand soaked in poision. Plus if the plan is to kill the weeds with steam I'm sure it will be less cost than spraying round-up every year.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 2 months ago

Lymphoma is cancer of the white blood cells, and half the people who get it die within 5 years. Those 5 years are likely to be a hellish combination of fear, worry, pain, and sickness caused by standard medical therapies -- radiation treatment, surgery (including bone marrow transplants or stem cell transplants) and/or chemotherapy. Side effects from therapies can include pain, nausea, vomiting, persistent mouth sores, and secondary infections like colds and flu after cancer therapies damage the immune system. Worse, lymphoma can go into remission, then flare up without warning, requiring all the therapies to be repeated. This is a disease that gives its victims a terrifying roller coaster ride through the valley of death.

There are two main kinds of lymphoma -- Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or NHL. NHL accounts for about 88% of all lymphoma. Some 287,000 people in the U.S. are living with NHL at any given time. About 55,000 new cases of NHL will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. and even more will be diagnosed next year because lymphoma is the second-fastest-growing kind of cancer. Between 1975 and 1998, the incidence (occurrence) of lymphoma increased at about 2.2% per year, though the rate of increase has slowed during the past decade.[1]

No one knows what causes lymphoma, but we know that all cancers are caused by multiple gene mutations (requiring probably 5 to 10 separate injuries) and/or by damage to the parts of the immune system that normally destroy cancer cells. (See REHN #693.) In the past two decades medical researchers have come to suspect that various combinations of factors give rise to lymphoma -- a weakened immune system, exposure to certain kinds of chemicals, and perhaps exposure to one or more viruses. Studies seem to implicate one particular class of chemicals -- chlorophenols. Chlorophenols are chlorine-containing chemicals that include dioxins, PCBs, DDT, and the so-called "phenoxy herbicides," including the weed killers 2,4,5-T, and 2,4-D. This last one is the most popular crabgrass and dandelion killer in America, sold as Weed-B-Gone, Weedone, Miracle, Demise, Lawn-Keep, Raid Weed Killer, Plantgard, Hormotox, and Ded-Weed, among other trademarked names.

Now the Lymphoma Foundation of America has pulled together and summarized in a 49-page booklet all the available studies of the relationship between lymphoma and pesticides.[2] It is an impressive piece of work by Susan Osburn, who directed the project, and a scientific review panel of 12 physicians and lymphoma researchers. The booklet summarizes 99 studies of humans and one study of pet dogs (see REHN #250) in relation to pesticide exposures.

Of the 99 human studies, 75 indicate a connection between exposure to pesticides and lymphomas. Twenty-four show no relationship.[3] The one study of pet dogs indicates that the popular crabgrass killer, 2,4-D, doubles a pet dog's chances of getting cancer. (See REHN #250.)

Eric Beightel 13 years, 2 months ago

it will take a fair amount of energy to heat the water to create the steam, so the trade-off may not be as clear cut as you think. However, increased energy with minimal increase in airborne pollutants in exchange for fewer poisons on the ground is likely a fair trade.

The city should release the figures they use to make whatever decision they make- I for one would be curious what the numbers are.

Lulu 13 years, 2 months ago

Dandelions are beautiful. They should NOT be killed. Spraying poisons not only pollutes the environment, it leaves residual effects that last for years. Remember Agent Orange? They said it was safe until people started dying of cancer. Who knows what goes into the sandbox at the park. It very well could be poisoned and this is cause enough to stop the efforts of poisoning these plants and the defenseless animals who might eat them.

On another note, I am sick and tired of hearing about Terri Schiavo, LET HER DIE! She is dying with dignity and in peace. The press conference yesterday said she stopped urinating. Her brain is so far gone, she is a non-person anyway. They should've pulled the tube years ago.

Back to topic, stop the senseless spraying of weed killer. We'll be better off, including the defenseless animals and plants. I love dandelions. They are beautiful.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 2 months ago

One thing that struck me last night was no parents spoke out against the "no pesticide" plan. Also several neighborhoods offered up their parks for immediate participation.

Bradfield lawn maintenance products offers a corn gluten fertilizer that acts as a pre-emergent which of course is applied at this time of year.

Good Job Marie...thank you very much.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 2 months ago

I am surprised people take cancer so lightly even though it's expensive and painful to treat and many times terminal. Carcinogenic ingredients are present in pestcides,herbicdes and fungicides. Women and children are for what ever reason are very susceptible. Pregnant women and children are constantly cautioned regarding exposure to these killing chemicals.

Cancer takes a long time to show up. How does anyone know that someone you know who has/had cancer was not a result of exposure to a carcinogenic landscape mainentance product? Cancer does not show up a day,week or one year later.

Pesticides,herbicides and fungicides are loaded with carcinogenic ingredients as are chemical fertilizers.

The oil companies love the chemical lawn treatment business. Why does anyone believe these compounds would have been banned long ago if they were so dangerous? Ever heard of special interest groups? Ever heard of campaign funding?

Our great grandparents and in some cases grandparents managed without these cide(to kill) products.

There are park departments and golf courses being successfully maintained using natural and/or organic products.

Here are but two sources from the very many:

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