Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Toxic Yard
Our yards have shrunk into small rectangles of grass from which all forms of life have been banished or have voluntarily vacated. To maintain a certain standard of appearance, we dispense bagged weed-and-feed products or pay a service to soak these areas with a cocktail of toxic herbicides and pesticides. Some of the over thirty chemicals routinely used on millions of American lawns have been found to cause lymphoma, cysts, leukemia, bladder cancer, neurological diseases, developmental disabilities and increased mortality in canines. In studies of the effects of chlorophenoxy herbicides, dogs were found to be more susceptible to their toxicity due to poor urinary clearance. It took them nearly 100 hours to clear amounts that rats could clear from their systems within about an hour. Curiously, some of the companies that make and dispense these chemicals use images of dogs on their products, marketing materials and vehicles.
The toxins we introduce to beautify our lawns and green spaces find their way inside the dog’s body through airborne particle drift or inhalation, direct skin/body contact or absorption and grooming activities or ingestion. Studies have shown higher levels of herbicides and pesticides in the carpets dogs lie on and in the house dust they inhale than in the soil of their treated yards. When the brains, immune systems and bodies of developing canines are exposed to these chemicals, the resulting damage can have life-long and life-threatening effects. We may not be spraying chemicals ourselves but there is a very good chance our neighbor or community is. Exposure to unhealthy environments can sicken and kill yet it is rarely ever considered to be the cause of the perplexing disease complexes veterinarians see in thousands of dogs annually.
If you don’t consider the beauty of your lawn to be more important than the health of the dog in your life, intend to find a better way. Feed the soil with leaf or bio-mass compost produced by your county or state. Spray weeds with distilled vinegar or just pull them out. Better yet, spread a compost made from your own yard and kitchen waste, leaves and clippings and learn to love your weeds.