Often the first chance a child gets to play outside is in a garden or on a lawn. However, in order to keep these places beautiful and green, we heap on the pesticides. About 90% of Americans use pesticides, and we use a lot of them, about 2 billion pounds a year. Unfortunately, pesticides can cause all sorts of children's health problems. Immediate effects include nausea, vomiting, seizures, and shortness of breath. Longer term effects include neurological and reproductive disorders, birth defects, asthma, and cancer.

These problems are preventable. We can easily remove pesticides from our homes, both indoors and outdoors. Using a number of simple strategies, we can have beautiful lawns and gardens, and relatively pest free homes without endangering our children.

Did You Know?

What You Can Do

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is the safest way to control pests. IPM is a sequential process based on monitoring, prevention, mechanical and biological controls. In IPM you start with the least toxic step and proceed to the next step only if the first doesn't control the pest problem.

IPM Steps

Monitor the situation. Identify the causes of the problem. Determine what pests eat, where they are coming from, and what kind of organism you are trying to control.

Preventative medicine. The best way to get rid of pests is to not attract them in the first place.

Mechanical controls. If preventative medicine alone isn't enough, then try some of these techniques.

If all the previous options fail, it may be helpful to directly add biological control such as beneficial insects, nematodes, and pathogens. These techniques should be used sparingly in specific circumstances and under the supervision of a professional; otherwise they can do more damage than good.

Least Toxic Chemical Controls. When all else fails, it is useful to turn to least toxic chemical controls.

If you'd like more detailed advice, check out the following:
Special Tips for Gardens - Lawns - The House

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