Most homeowners strive to achieve the perfect lawn, sometimes, spending hundreds of dollars a year on costly pesticides and fertilizers to accomplish their goal. In their quest for the most beautiful lawn in the neighborhood, they unwittingly create a hazardous environment for both their children and their pets. The use of lawn fertilizer and herbicide compounds are the most common.
Lawn chemicals are not limited to types of lawn fertilizer. Pesticides, herbicides and the numerous combinations of chemicals designed to eliminate weeds, insects and diseases that affect the growth of grass and shrubbery are all included. Many contain toxic ingredients such as organophosphate and benzoic acid. Lawn chemicals come in liquid and powder form and can be easy applied through spreaders and pressure sprayers of different sizes. It is estimated that nearly 100 million pounds of lawn chemicals are used by homeowners alone, each year in the United States.
Types of Exposure
There are several ways pets or adults can be exposed to lawn fertilizer. They include:
Inhaled – normally when the fertilizer is being applied by a spreader or sprayer
Absorbed through the skin – by laying down or crawling around in the grass once the chemical has been applied
Ingested through the mouth – this occurs mostly in pets who lick their fur after laying down in an area where fertilizer has recently been applied
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention have performed tests that show the number of people found with herbicides, pesticides and lawn fertilizer residue in their blood or urine is steadily increasing.
The main problem with the excessive use of lawn fertilizer and other chemicals is that what isn't actually used by the plants, runs off and can leach into the groundwater. As more and more chemicals are used, the levels of toxic chemicals found in our drinking water continues to rise at an alarming rate. Learn more about the impacts of lawn fertilizer in water.
Who Is At Risk
Children and pets are often the most at risk when it comes to the use of lawn fertilizer and other types of chemicals. Several things affect a person or animals level of exposure and subsequent risk. First, the age of the pet or child is significant. Children and young pets are still developing physically and mentally. Repeated exposure to toxic chemicals can cause them to be developmentally delayed in a variety of ways.
The size of the person or animal in question is also relevant. The smaller a person or animal is, the lesser amounts of a chemical are needed to cause significant symptoms and health issues. Lastly, and probably the most recognized reason lawn chemicals pose such a hazard is the fact that small children and pets are the closest to the ground. They lay, crawl and roll around in the grass on a regular basis. The more they are in contact with areas where chemicals have been applied, the higher their risk will be. Learn more about why you should choose artificial turf for your dogs.
Types of Conditions
Excessive exposure to lawn fertilizer and other yard chemicals can lead to a variety of health issues. While problems that arise out of short term exposure normally reverse themselves, prolonged exposure can lead to permanent damage. A few of the types of conditions that can arise from being exposed to lawn chemicals include, but are not limited to:
Lymphoma (especially in pets)
Skin conditions (hot spots, mange, hair loss due to severe scratching, especially in dogs and cats)
Humans and animals will often have different types of reactions when exposed to toxic chemicals. A person might experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, severe itching and difficulty breathing.
There are several ways to avoid using toxic chemicals. Organic fertilizers are quickly becoming popular in areas where there is an abundance of children and pets within the neighborhood. Eliminating the need altogether for these chemicals is one of the best way to avoid these issues. Replacing your existing lawn with artificial turf is the shortest path to a clean and healthy yard.