Can Chemical Fertilizers Damage Your Yard?

Fertilizing LawnFew things are more picturesque of summer than a lush green lawn in Ann Arbor MI. It makes a wonderful natural playground for the kids, and it enhances the curb appeal of any home. But, the primary challenge is that quest to grow a perfectly manicured green lawn is often something more of fairytales than real life. That is unless you are willing to reach for a packaged solution – chemical fertilizers to kill off weeds and enhance the growth of attractive green grass.

The statistics are somewhat astonishing when you get right down to it. Nearly 100 million pounds of pesticide are used by homeowners and gardeners each year, and the more we learn about them, the more concerned we all are. Studies have shown that the chemicals contained in lawn treatments are creeping into our homes and contaminating indoor air and even surfaces, exposing children to levels as high as ten times as much as pre-application levels. In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 9,282 people found pesticides in 100 percent of the people tested, with the average person carrying 13 of 23 pesticides tested.

What Are Chemical Fertilizers and Lawn Care Products?

Chemical lawn treatments are more than just fertilizers. These combinations contain not just the “food” to enhance your lawn’s growth but also chemicals that kill pests. The problem with the chemical element in these treatments is that most are broad-spectrum biocides, meaning they are poisonous to a wide variety of living organisms, such as garden plants, wildlife, pets, and your family. And, it’s not just the active ingredients that can be harmful. The inert ingredients that make up between 50 and 99 percent of the formula may actually be more toxic that their active counterparts.

How Can Chemical Lawn Treatments Affect Your Family?

The biggest issue with chemical lawn treatments is that so many of them also contain a pesticide component. Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 of them have actually been linked with cancer or carcinogenic properties, 13 have been identified with ties to birth defects, 21 with reproductive issues, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with imbalances of the endocrine system.

Of those common pesticides, 17 have been located in groundwater, and 23 are capable of leaching into drinking water sources. Additionally, 24 are toxic to fish, 11 to bees, and 16 to birds.

Are Chemical Lawn Products Regulated?

No. The EPA currently allows no claims on pesticides or lawn care chemicals, and in fact, it is a federal violation to label pesticides with terms such as “safe” or “non-toxic.” It is estimated that nearly 90 percent of pesticides in use actually lack proper health and safety registration; however, they are still permitted on the market.

Are There Alternatives to Toxic Lawn Care Products?

Yes. There are natural options to maintain a healthy, pest-free landscape without the use of dangerous chemicals in Ann Arbor MI. One option is corn gluten, a natural pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer presently available to homeowners. Likewise, a thin layer of compost applied in the spring and fall can support healthy lawn growth while other natural practices can be applied to limit pests and disease.