It’s no secret that garden and lawn care chemicals can have negative effects on humans and animals. You may have heard about one of the biggest product liability claims in recent memory: the Monsanto Roundup herbicide lawsuit. As of May 2022, Monsanto has settled nearly 100K Roundup lawsuits – paying out around $11 billion.
In America, we take great pride in our lawns. Not only does it boost the curb appeal of our homes, but it’s also the first impression to everyone passing by. We all want the greenest, lushest grass and the most colorful garden. Achieving this doesn’t always come naturally – you need some help from certain lawn care chemicals. If you’re not careful using these products, they can pose a serious risk.
Health is THE most important factor in life. No amount of money or fancy-looking lawn is worth compromising your wellbeing. It’s in your best interests to be aware of toxic lawn chemicals.
In this post, we want to discuss the regulations surrounding garden and lawn care chemicals – and how to avoid compromising your health. Let’s dive in.
What Are the Regulations for Commonly Used Lawn Chemicals?
Knowledge about chemical exposure has advanced dramatically in recent decades.
According to the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Section 24(a), “A state may regulate the sale or use of any federally registered pesticide or device in the state, but only if and to the extent that the regulation does not permit any sale or use prohibited by this Act.”
In a nutshell, companies may obtain a federal registration for a lawn chemical product allowing distribution and sale, but the state may have additional requirements. Illinois requires a person or company applying general or restricted-use lawn chemicals (like pesticides) for the course of employment to be licensed.
Homeowners applying general-use chemicals on their lawns do not require any licensing. Restricted-use chemicals, on the other hand, would require a private applicator license. Restricted-use chemicals are not available to the general public – as they can cause harm to the homeowner/family. These chemicals are not generally needed on lawns.
Now, many general-use products may use toxic lawn chemicals. But most are relatively safe if used as instructed. Here are some of the most common ones to be mindful of.
Dealing with pests is simply a reality of having plants, a lawn, or a garden. There are a few ways to keep insects and other pests off your plants: smother, repel, poison, or manually pick them off. The first three options use garden chemicals that can be potentially harmful to humans if exposed in large quantities.
Petroleum oils are commonly used to smother pests from gardens. Improper application of this chemical – like applying too frequently or without gloves – may result in irritations of the skin. Moreover, inhaling the chemical from the spray could cause lung infections. To avoid health risks, we advise people to always wear gloves and a mask to protect themselves.
Most poisoning agents used for lawn care include pyrethrums – which are naturally-occurring chemicals found in chrysanthemum flowers. Fortunately, pyrethrums (natural and synthetic) used in garden chemicals have very low toxicity levels for humans.
Another common chemical used as a pesticide is neonicotinoids. These garden chemicals are extremely toxic to insects (especially bees) – and must be used sparingly.
For homeowners, exposure to these pesticides should be minimal. If used correctly, you shouldn’t have any problems.
There are many, many different lawn chemicals used as herbicides. What you need will depend on the type of weed you are targeting. One of the most common is glyphosate, used for a range of weeds. Glyphosate is most commonly sold as Roundup – which as mentioned earlier, has created international controversy.
Glyphosate was ruled to be a “probable” human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, it’s important to note that this decision was based on a very small number of animal studies. There was also no determination regarding the level of risk. The European Food Safety Authority analyzed this evidence and ruled the risk of these garden chemicals is minimal when used as directed.
Another one of the common lawn care chemicals is triclopyr, which may cause skin and eye irritation if used improperly. The side effects of herbicides on humans may include:
- Stinging eyes
The good news is it’s not known to cause long-term health problems if used correctly.
Most homes and properties use some form of fertilizer. The type of lawn care chemicals used depends on the type of soil. Most general-use fertilizers are non-toxic to humans if used as instructed. If you aren’t sure which type to use, it’s recommended to fertilize your lawn through a trusted service provider to avoid any risks.
If used improperly, fertilizer side effects on humans may involve:
- Low blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach aches
How to be Safe with Lawn Care Chemicals
The common theme in this article is simple: always use lawn and garden chemicals as directed.
As personal injury attorneys, we strongly recommend researching every product you use for product liability lawsuits and recalls. Even though the product may be stocked on the shelves at your local department store, there may be health risks involved.
Some common garden and lawn care chemicals could be dangerous – they just haven’t been officially ruled dangerous yet. For this reason, always wear gloves, protect your eyes, cover your mouth, and take all the safety precautions to avoid health problems.
Over to You
Summer is here and many people will be soaking up the sun while maintaining their yards. Keep in mind, lawn care chemicals are designed to kill living organisms – and they may not be completely safe for human use. No matter what pests you’re dealing with, do not put any chemicals on your property blindly. This may put you and your family at risk.
At Midwest Injury Lawyers, we’re happy to answer your questions. While we aren’t experts in the science of lawn care chemicals, we can advise on product liability claims and do our best to point you in the right direction.
If you have any questions about product liability claims or personal injury law in Illinois, don’t hesitate to reach out. Give us a call at (312) 786-5881 or send us a message online to get started.