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Pesticides don’t just hurt pests

Pesticide warning.JPGby Anca

If you're running after that ant with a can of pesticide, think twice before spraying it. Pesticides affect not only the insects we want out of our house, yard, or food, but they also affect our health. According to a Center for Disease Control study, 90% of people tested had 5 to 16 pesticides in their bodies and most of the 11-year-olds tested had four times the amount deemed acceptable by the EPA. Since 80% of contact with pesticides happens indoors, it's better to forgo that spray can in favor of more humane ways (for you and them) of asking the pests to leave your house. Here are some things you can do to limit pesticides in your house and body:

  • Eat organic food: Organic foods are those grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, petroleum- or sewage-based fertilizers, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, or irradiation. Even then, there are traces of pesticides, but they are in 13% to 23% of produce tested versus 71% to 90% of conventionally-grown produce, per the USDA. Therefore, you should also always wash your produce. Also, check out the Environmental Working Group's guide to determine which produce have the most pesticides. If you're buying from your local farmer (also recommended) you can ask them if they use pesticides and encourage them to use alternative methods. You can find local farmers' markets and family farms through Local Harvest.
  • Do some home repairs: Keep pests out by installing or fixing door strips on doors leading to the outside, sealing baseboards, plugging holes and cracks around windows and doors with caulk or steel wool, and keeping window screens in good repair.
  • Switch to non-toxic methods: Buy pest control products without chemicals.
  • Keep the house clean: Do not leave food lying around in the kitchen and beware of dirt you bring in from the outdoors with your shoes.
  • Green your lawn: We apply about 70 to 75 million pounds of about 300 different pesticide ingredients to our lawns and gardens yearly. STOP using toxic chemicals for your lawn and garden and change to non-toxic, pesticide-free lawn and garden products.

Did I mention the consequences for the animals and insects that aren't direct targets of the pesticides but that are affected nonetheless? Pesticides contaminate soil, water, and other vegetation, and can be toxic to birds, fish, beneficial insects and plants that were not intended for obliteration. So, you're keeping yourself and the planet healthier by not using them. Check these links out for alternatives indoors and outdoors and for more info.