It’s well known that the types of chemicals routinely sprayed on lawns are a potential hazard to all manner of living things, ranging from insects and amphibians to pets like cats and dogs to humans.
But did you know that the standard waiting period as to how long people should stay off of a lawn after it’s been sprayed may be longer than once thought?
That was the key finding of a 2013 study, which examined the levels of lawn pesticides in the urine of dogs in order to determine how long exposure to the chemicals may be harmful.
In the study, which was published in July 2013 in the journal Science of the Total Environment, dogs tested had lawn pesticides in their urine for at least 48 hours after spraying, much longer than the usual time period most people are advised to stay off of them.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, most companies that spray lawn chemicals recommend that people (and pets) stay off of the affected areas for 6 to 24 hours.
As the Post points out, however, there is no official scientific standard for how long people should stay off of a lawn after it is treated.
And the potential for chemicals to mix together and cause problems that otherwise wouldn’t be seen is another problem experts are concerned about, including Gary Ginsberg, a public health toxicologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut. He recommends people stay off of treated lawns for at least 2-3 days after sprayings.
Many states and counties require signs to be posted after sprayings, including in Maryland, (commercial applicators only).
Chemicals Remain a Week After Spraying
As the Post article added, a 2001 study also found that a week after lawn treatment, the notoriously harmful pesticide 2, 4-D was found on all indoor air surfaces after wafting in through various openings in homes.
Exposure of the chemical was found to be 10 times higher than the previous week to children, according to the study.
As the 2013 study previously mentioned detailed, exposure to herbicide-treated lawns has been associated with a significantly higher bladder cancer risk in dogs.
Herbicides applied include 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 4-chloro-2-methylphenoxypropionic acid (MCPP), and dicamba, and were sprayed on grass plots under different conditions for the study.
Luckily, there is a growing movement for organic lawn care in the United States. In Ohio for example the number of people requesting organic lawns has been increasing dramatically.
Organic lawn care utilizes natural substances to treat and nourish the soil, along with natural weedkillers (or pulling them by hand) to maintain a chemical-free lawn for improved health, and less environmental risks.
Lawn Care and the Monsanto Connection
Few people realize that the biggest lawn care company in the United States, Scotts, is a strong ally of Monsanto, and recently plans to introduce a highly controversial new product have actually led to petitions and grassroots movements against the company.
Also, more and more evidence has come out calling into question the safety of even small amounts of pesticides in recent years; one prominent MIT researcher even unveiled a thought-provoking chart about autism rates and pesticides, for example.