HB Tomorrow for a Non-Toxic Huntington Beach

Non-Toxic Huntington Beach
Credit: Rob Dobi; OC Weekly

On December 16, 2016, HB Tomorrow formally urged the City Council to follow Irvine’s lead to make Huntington Beach the second city in Southern California to use non-toxic pesticides and herbicides in our public spaces. This proven alternative to exposing people and pets to harsh chemicals uses 30% less water, and is less expensive in the long run.

Currently, Huntington Beach uses a number of toxic chemicals in our parks and public areas where children, adults, and pets are exposed. These include herbicides (e.g., Roundup Promax, Glyphsate 4 Plus, Oryzalin 4 Pro, etc.), insecticides (e.g., Criterior 75, Safari 20, etc.), rodenticides (e.g., Kaput D, Talpirid), and mulluscicides (Deadline T&O). These chemicals are blown by winds and tracked into homes where they can be trapped in carpets for years.

When pesticides are used together simultaneously, they can interact with each other in unpredictable ways, changing or amplifying their effects. Think of this as the grapefruit juice effect: doctors often counsel patients not to drink grapefruit juice with certain medication because it may change how the body reacts to them. Pesticides work the same way, but very little research has been done in this area, so the interactions are largely untested, and thus unknown.

What is known about pesticides is that they are inherently unsafe. The EPA and the National Academy of Sciences concur that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds that household and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia as much as seven-fold.[1] Out of all 99 human studies done on lymphoma and pesticides, 75 find a link between the two.[2] The American Cancer Society published a study finding people exposed to the popular weedkiller Roundup were 2.7 times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.[3] Exposure to pesticides in our parks and public areas can lead to chronic toxicity and harm to children, adults, and pets.

While pesticides must be registered with and approved by the EPA, this is not a guarantee of safety. For example, of the 36 most commonly used lawncare pesticides registered before 1984, only one has been fully tested. Of these products, 14 are probable or possible carcinogens, 15 are linked to birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 24 with neurotoxicity, 22 with liver or kidney damage, and 34 are sensitizers or irritants. Obviously, lead paint, asbestos, and cigarettes were all at one time thought proven safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics says there is no safe level of pesticide exposure for children.

Huntington Beach residents are more susceptible to the dangers of pesticides due to climate and smaller average lot sizes. Since grass and plants grow all year, pesticides are applied year-round, increasing exposure compared to cooler climates. And lots are closer together than in other regions, with windows and ventilation closer to treated areas.

Harvard University has successfully used organic landscaping on its landscapes and hardscapes since 2008. Quail Hill in Irvine successfully adopted organic-landscaping practices in 2015 with no homeowner complaints and no increase in costs.[4]

We ask that you consider the issue and reach out to us if you’d like to support us or need more information.

[1] Lowengart, R., et al. 1987, Childhood Leukemia and Parent’s Occupational and Home Exposures, Journal of the National Cancer Institute 79:39.

[2] Osburn, S. 2001, Do Pesticides Cause Lymphoma? Lymphoma Foundation of America, Chevy Chase, MD.

[3] Hardell, L., et al. 1999 Mar., A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides, J. of the Am. Cancer Soc. (85):6. p.1353.

[4] For questions about Quail Hill’s organic landscaping program, contact Linda Reyes with Villa Park Landscaping at linda@vplinc.com.

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