- Keep Off The Grass And Take Off Your
Shoes! Common Sense Can Stop Pesticides From Being Tracked Into The House
- A government funded study shows that
weed killers and other pesticides applied to lawns can be tracked into
homes by people and pets up to a week after treatment, causing unnecessary
exposure, particularly to children. By taking commonsense steps such as
removing shoes before entering the house and restricting youngsters and
pets from lawns following application, consumers can substantially reduce
track-in, concludes the study.
- Results of the study, involving application
of the herbicide 2,4-D to the lawns of 13 homes in the Columbus, Ohio,
area, are scheduled to appear in the May 1 print issue of the peer-reviewed
journal Environmental Science & Technology, published by the American
Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The research
was initially published on the journal's web site on March 31.
- The study was done by Battelle Memorial
Institute laboratories in Columbus and is one of several being sponsored
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Exposure Research
Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, N.C., to assess the potential exposures
of small children to pesticides used in and around the home.
- The measurement of pesticide levels in
the Ohio houses is the first actual in-home proof that 2,4-D can be tracked
into residences up to a week after application to lawns. The scientists
had previously predicted the track-in based on simulation studies.
- Rooms with carpeted floors, when compared
to bare floor areas, generally had higher levels of tracked-in 2,4-D, according
to the journal article. In homes with bare floor entryways, the highest
levels of the herbicide were found in carpeted living rooms and bedrooms.
In homes with carpeted entryways, the levels were higher there than in
other parts of the house.
- Having a rug or carpet in the entryway
of the house helps "limit the further migration of those residues
into the living areas of the home where children are more likely to play
on the floor," says the report's lead author, Marcia Nishioka, M.S.,
a senior research scientist at Battelle.
- The results of the study show that it
may be fairly straightforward to limit indoor exposure, says Nishioka.
"The important message here is that track-in of herbicides and pesticides
from the lawn can be limited by simple control procedures," she says.
"The consistent removal of outdoor shoes at the door by both the homeowner
applicator and children, or the use of a commercial applicator, can reduce
the levels brought indoors. Carpeting at the door, rather than a bare floor
there, can be used to catch the residues that do enter."
- Restricting the access of indoor-outdoor
pets to recently treated lawns and wearing coveralls when applying lawn
treatments and then removing the protective clothing before entering the
house are two other effective ways of preventing track-in, according to
the journal article. In humans, contact with 2,4-D can cause skin rashes,
dermatitis and irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, according to EPA's
hazard summary for the herbicide. However, "the long-term chronic
health effects of 2,4-D are unknown at this time," says Nishioka.
- "Residential exposure to pesticides
may increase the potential health risks to all humans, but such risks are
considerably greater for infants and toddlers, who frequently crawl or
lie on the floor, may have intimate contact with family pets, and mouth
their toys and other objects that may contain chemical residues,"
says EPA senior scientist Robert G. Lewis, Ph.D., study manager and co-author
of the paper.
- A nonprofit organization with a membership
of nearly 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical
Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research
conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs
in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.